I am stumbling around the kitchen, trying to organize my day. Tea, yes, a cup of tea. My ten year old daughter is looking at me patiently. She is eating her cereal. On the Today programme, Robert Peston is discussing banker’s bonuses, apparently they are all getting them again because bankers are doing well. Really? ! I thought the word of the moment was “make do and mend”.
“When are you going to tell me?” she asks.
“What’s wrong! It’s money isn’t it. Don’t worry, we’ll cope. We always do.”
I instantly feel better. My daughter is very reliable. The phone rings. Who the hell could be ringing at 7.30? My daughter is off the through the front door. I pick up the phone.
“Madelaine. It’s Barry, Liability Bailiffs. Didn’t want to call you first thing. Thought I’d give it an hour of two!”
First thing? An hour or two? What time does his day start? Five o’clock, apparently. Bailiffs like to catch people early. He is asking me if I am feeling any better. I tell him no. And I am not, my stomach is crawling with rats. I feel sick.
“Have you got a cup of tea?” “Yes”.
“Good. Now, about this re-payment plan?”
Re-payment plan? Apparently, I sound like a nice woman. Barry knows I am good for the money. Barry is he going to help me.
“When is your next money coming in?” I haven’t got any money coming in. I haven’t got any work.
“What? Nothing?” I blather on about being freelance, about putting out all kinds of articles and proposals, and that I have lost my one fee paying job. He is brisk, no nonsence Barry!
“Well, now’s the time to get another one. I know its difficult, but a woman of your resources, you can find something, easy”. My resources, what can he know about my resources? I haven’t any!
“This is no time to give up!” Who is this man, is he my counsellor?
“Do you own your house?” “Yes.” I can almost hear the sigh of relief. Shall I tell him about the mortgage, the missed payments? No time, Barry is warming to his subject.
“I’ll tell you what, we’ll make a plan.” We! “First thing, you get on to agents, three of them, and get an idea of what the house is worth. You offer each one an exclusive deal, but none of this, its two and half percent business. You beat them down. One per cent is all we’re paying”.
Paying? For what? My house, it’s the quickest way to get all this “sorted”. “And get yourself that paying job. Look online, there must be something. Another thing, you’d better make a start on all those bills you’ve been stashing away, I’m sure there are plenty of them”.
Well, yes…he’s right actually, they are behind the clock in the sitting room, and there are a few in the bread tin. “Work out how much you owe. I’ll give you a call tomorrow morning, see where we are.”