It’s been a confusing month, financially speaking, in many households. Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan-Smith reassured full-time parents that we will be entitled to a full state pension. But before we could get too excited about being able to ‘stick another bar on’ in our dotage, we learned of the Beecroft report and its recommendations for no-fault dismissal. What sort of place will the world of work be when we return to it?
Amid said confusion, my husband comes home sporting his bulldog-ingesting-a-wasp face. I know instantly he’s heard yet more disturbing news on the radio.
‘Households like ours,’ he splutters, ‘are binning £13 worth of unused groceries EVERY WEEK!’
Such profligate waste would strike horror into his thrifty northern heart. I put the kids to bed and come down to the kitchen to find my trajectory to the gin bottle is obstructed by an up-ended bin.
Have we been invaded by foxes or a news-hungry paparazzo with the wrong postcode? No. My husband is filing the rubbish. He holds aloft a furry green lump.
‘This cheese is supposed to be mouldy – it adds to the flavour.’
‘It’s cheddar, not Roquefort,’ I remind him.
‘And this rotting head of cabbage, can’t you use it to make a puppet?’
Now why didn’t I think of that? Then he rifles through the recycling.
‘You only bought this Cosmo yesterday! You’ve read it cover to cover?’
‘Too busy sorting socks and child-proofing the house.’
‘It says on the spine it’s for fun and fearless women.’
‘That’s why I binned it.’
That moment I notice something I have indeed junked with improper haste – a flyer from a local cleaning lady.
‘Absolutely not!’ my beloved protests, ‘we’re in an age of austerity.’
‘Don’t you see? You save us £26 a fortnight by going through the bins and we pay her half that to clean up afterwards. It’s a money spinner. And if employment law changes, we can send her packing the moment you say so.’
My light assumes his bulldog-chewing-wasp face again as he mulls it over.