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Readers who reached understanding after 1971 perhaps need to know that before decimalisation there were 20 shillings to the Pound and 12 pence to the shilling.

When I was a lad, I knew that money was tight so I got used to having rather less to spend than the other boys in my road. If we went to the Fair, they would have five shillings, I had three shillings and sixpence. When they had five shilling kites, I had the smaller two and sixpence one. Later aged 15, when I went on a school trip, everyone else had the maximum allowable spending money, I had rather less. But I still have the musical box and walking stick I bought on that trip some fifty years later, I wonder how many of the more expensive versions have survived? Later still at University, most other students had the maximum grant of some £7 a week. I had just £5. I say all this neither to boast nor seek sympathy, but to rejoice.  I could still afford ten decent cigarettes a day and a pint or two on Saturday.

Now a pensioner I laugh to myself when I hear someone say with great sagacity: You get what you pay for! or relate how they went to Debenham's to buy something that was readily and cheaply available in the Pound Shop. And as for Designer clothes, well how ridiculous to pay through the nose to advertise someone's label. No I am not a meany or a skinflint, but I do naturally go for the cheaper option. There was a time back in the seventies when as a family we had two cars and a sailing dinghy, about which I boasted with tongue in cheek to my colleagues, knowing that in total they had cost less than most had paid for their one car. All functioned perfectly well and did what I required of them. It is true that my dear old camper cost over £4000 when I bought it in 1987 but it did me very well up to 2002. And, at the caravaning exhibition we went to in 87, new ones were up to ten times that amount with their chintzy curtains and plush interiors. My comment to the salesman was Where do you put the muddy wellies?

So I am happy with my lot, knowing very well that I am much better off than the friends who struggle on Benefit or Tax allowances and I am content to subsidise them as far as I can, providing that what I give them is not wasted.  And that really is the key. Wasting money is high up in my list of sins and that too comes from my childhood. If we wasted,  or failed to look after, what we had, there were no replacements.  I do not decry the Consumer Throw Away Society, but just point out that there is a different way.

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