And nothing more
Cash in brown envelopes
At the end of evenings behind the bar
Spent on the other side of other bars
Bus fare to the next party
Booze and good-times
The only catch being
What I had was never enough
Dodging train tickets
Running out of money in the pub
Walking home in the cold


Then came
My father once told me to do whatever I wanted but to first pay the rent.
It was only this maxim that kept me steady
While I drank all my earnings
Borrowed tenners from friends and had to be reminded to pay them back
Ran up a credit card debt
And an overdraft
The bank could would call and call
And there was still so much to pay for
Never enough to go somewhere
To do something
To see something in the world
Just working
And paying
Paying the rent
The bills
Travel to the office
Tights, period pads, new glasses, shoes to replace the worn ones, a coat for winter, birthday cards, Christmas presents, bottles of wine on Friday nights
And trying to pay off what I owed
Like catching at the tide
Or the wind


I learnt too well the value of money
And spent my days in corporate Sales
Too scared to earn less for something worth more
After an exceptional deal came in I paid off the debt and forever freed myself from it
Finally realised I wanted to put my earnings to something
(Something: a master’s degree)
And learned to save
One month
At a time.
Then I learned
To put aside
And to manage
And once I had tuition fees saved up
I had mastered
How to budget
And forecast
And plan
And how to have enough
On not very much
How to turn what I had
Into something I wanted
I brought those
Numbers and figures
To heel


Adding up
Taking Away
Getting addicted to
The numbers on the screen going up
Instead of down
Always in the black
Never the red
Feeling only that the having more
Means wanting more
And that what I have is so little
The worry that it will always be only a little
That something will happen
(Something: some great unforeseen cost like redundancy, eviction, automation)
And what I earn won’t be enough
To keep up
So each month
The adding up
The taking away
The putting aside
Like a chant to keep away demons
Praying to Mammon
To keep me in the Black
Keep Me In The Black