We are totally broke.

“I’ve tried to cut out absolutely everything but the bare, bare essentials,” I explain to Short Tony in the Village Pub. “But it’s just not working.”

One problem is the unexpected things that happen each day. Example: I decided that I would make a nourishing risotto with all the manky things left in the fridge that would otherwise be thrown away. I created a stock from an old chicken carcass (net saving: one stock cube) and we had a delicious yet economical dinner. Unfortunately, at the same time, the LTLP managed to leave the cordless phone outside in a rain storm.

Daily saving: 1 stock cube – price of 1 new telephone = (insert negative amount in here).

I picked it up from the lawn. There is a convention in cartoons whereby if somebody falls into a river, they emerge onto the bank, take their shoes off and pour a gallon of water out. They then pluck a fish from their ear. The telephone was a bit like that. I tried to look on the bright side; our phone bill will be less next month. I did not shout at her much in case she suggested that I got a proper job.

Short Tony is sympathetic. His garden renovation plans have turned into a government IT project and I suspect that we are in the same boat, viz the third-class compartment of the one heading towards the iceberg carrying a cargo of live angry sharks and some industrial magnesium.

We have a short and hopeless conversation about where all the money went, before ordering another pint.