Instalments are a way of life. Who has a mortgage? Who is paying off a loan? How are the credit card repayments going? Do you use the direct debit TV licence payments? When you see something that you want, do you immediately explore the different ways of having it?
I first knew this as Hire-Purchase.
It’s a vague memory but I know it was common. There would be a payment book, a bit like a savings pass book. Your regular payments would be recorded as you watched your balance gradually reduce. Is this when the rot started? Many people classify us as a must have society.
We venture into these agreements with the knowledge that the road of repayments will eventually end. But what about people who cannot keep up the payments? Their life may quickly become a mess.
They may blame the pressure of modern life or the slippery practices of the provider. Now whilst I shudder at my brief encounters with debt and hardship, this post is not about the great quagmire of financial liabilities.
The instalments I want to talk about relate to doing things; I’m sure there are parallels with the financial side. Let’s start with my wheelchairs and scooter. They get their power in instalments. If I didn’t charge them up regularly my life would become a mess.
My house would become a mess. I would become a mess. Imagine how many times I’d fall over; eek!
The more recent instalments I am becoming aware of relate to doing the more extraordinary things. Some years ago, when I was capable of getting up and down off the floor and could walk a bit, I decided to fit a phone extension into my bedroom. This was not possible to do in an hour like I may have expected in the eighties and a lot of the nineties so I had to plan the whole operation.
Stage 1. Buy the stuff.
Stage 2. Plan the route of the cable.
Stage 3… yawn.
It took six hours to complete. I could have asked a friend. I have good friends who are always willing to help but I wanted the satisfaction of doing it myself.
I was particularly pleased with the tacking of the cable to the skirting board and the drilling of the hole in the wall. No loose wires to trip over. As you may be aware, there are wiring nightmares in all households. Buckingham Palace I believe.
The most evident is the myriad of cables which build up behind the television.
They lie there like a nest of mischievous vipers. You can spend hours tidying them up with cable ties and junction boxes but when you’re out of earshot they will hiss their hissy giggle as they break away to wrap around each other. When you go to admire your handy work some two hours later, your smugness changes to despair as you look at the aftermath of a snake orgy. Most of them are black and shiny; some sort of faux leather fetish?
The phone extension may have been the minor accomplishment of a minor task but at least it showed me the way ahead for doing things for myself. Back then, I was able to plan and sequence everything in my head. That’s impossible to do now. If I wake up and decide to do some sorting out and cleaning, I get horribly confused. I fly off at tangents beginning other jobs before remembering the original one. There is no point in getting downhearted about this however. It means that in the confusion I’ll have achieved more than I set out to do. All right it took four times longer but look at what I’ve done! (Stands up and attempts a pirouette in an Angelina Ballerina style before realising I can’t actually do it and tumble to the floor like a centre forward.)
Last week when I was up against the wall, the housework wasn’t going to do itself. Yes, I’m getting old. I’m talking about housework. Sleep and rest were the priority so each day had to be planned. Feed the cat. Rest. Make tea. Rest. Stare at the uncleaned surfaces in the kitchen. Rest. Clean one of the surfaces. Rest. How tedious. But like hire-purchase, the instalments eventually end.
Then you buy something else; or in this case I just make more mess. Even the card has to be recycled in stages. How tedious. The washing? How tedious. This is the price of independence.
At the end of the Christmas term in 1995, I went on a bit of a bender.
After finishing school, I went to a birthday do on the Friday night which lasted until Saturday morning. My mate Stash was with me the so next day we had a bit of a lunchtime session.
In between the lunchtime and going on on the town I completely sorted out the house before preening myself for the big pub crawl.
It was a bit of a girly night out and we ended up in Da Vinci’s. What happened when we all climbed into a cab? I said: “A lot of my pupils gave me wine for Christmas. Anyone fancy a nightcap?” Stash was asleep but my three lady friends nodded. After all, the price of drink in Da Vinci’s was a bit outrageous so we had to catch up. The impromptu party broke up just before day break. That’s all I remember.
The next morning-and it was morning, I had to clear up all the wine soaked tea mugs. I collected a few of those in my teaching career. I can see some people cringing at the thought of wine in mugs. It was necessary, believe me.
Was the Sunday a day of rest? We went to the pub at lunch time and ended up back at my mate Steve’s house. He was the one responsible for the Friday party so I’m assuming there were some left-over goodies.
So was Monday a day of rest? No it was a day of penance.
The weather was freezing and I had to drive down to Brighton to get my brand new Ford Ka taxed. I had to park some distance away and fight my way through one of those Eastern winds, fresh from the heart of Siberia. Yet I did it.
It was a true lost weekend. I suppose each episode of that epic time was an instalment in its own right. Maybe times like the eighties were an instalment of my life. I often joke that I spent that particular decade in a drunken haze. It’s not actually true. I did almost everything I ever wanted to do in the eighties.
Now as I sit here on my comfortable sofa, I’m wondering how many instalments I need to get to the pit.
Stand up. (Not easy.)
Get into the wheelchair. (Unsteadily, trying not to set off my Lifeline alarm.)
Put things away. (To avoid a cry of despair in the morning.)
I’m also hoping that despite the mundane nature of today’s subject matter, you’ve actually reached the end of my post. Thank-you for reading.