Z at school 7 – pocket money

Goodness, I wonder what happened on Wednesday – the number of visitors doubled and the number of pageviews shot up several times.  Must have been the alluring title of the post.  Today’s item of spam (I don’t often get spam comments through now, but the occasional ‘trackback’, which is a spam link, I suppose) came from France, I see from the stats.  I’ve only had 33 items of spam since moving here in August and used to get more than that every day, so I remain unfailingly grateful to Ronan for setting up this site.

Sweets were mentioned in a comment – h’m.  I didn’t eat many of them when I was small.  My mother didn’t approve.  She didn’t often eat sweets herself (with a few exceptions) and didn’t buy them for us.  Neither of my parents ate puddings either, and she didn’t make cakes.  The baker’s van called round and a cake was sometimes bought, but not as a general rule.  And if you’ve been reading (and you can’t have missed it, not in this country anyway) all the articles advocating the elimination of sugar from our diet and that of our children, please consider that human beings are born with a liking for it.  Human milk is sweet, much more than cows’ milk.  That a lot of sugar is added to processed food is certainly true and it’s one reason I don’t buy the stuff – I’ve been reading labels for over 40 years, it wasn’t news to me.  I’d rather give a child a cake or some sweets and know they’re eating sugar than buy a supposedly savoury item that’s had sugar and other junk added to make it palatable.

Anyway, back to olden times when Z was young.  This post is entitled ‘pocket money,’ but I didn’t get any.  I blame my sister.  When she started school, my parents decided it was time to give her pocket money, so she was given some (I don’t know how much, a penny? A threepenny bit?) every week. But after a while, it was observed that there was no evidence that she ever bought anything, nor had any money and enquiries were made.  It transpired that a small con-man was sitting next to her on the bus and telling her a sob story about how poor his family was – and she, being a sympathetic and evidently credulous child – handed over her cash.  So they stopped giving her pocket money and never started again, neither with her nor with me.

And frankly, I think it was poor parenting.  An explanation of why she shouldn’t have done it, a trip to the shops on Saturday to monitor her spending, buying a piggy bank and posting the money in every week – any of these would have started to show her the value and the pleasure of having, spending and saving money, but I think they just ducked out, and they used it as an excuse never to revisit the matter, not because they couldn’t afford to but because they didn’t bother.  If we needed or wanted anything, we could ask – but I was the most undemanding child and hated asking anyway, so I rarely did.  I remember once at school, a teacher was dismissive of a drawing I’d done in pencil and suggested I do it in felt pens, and I didn’t feel able to explain that I didn’t have any and had no money to buy them with.  Of course my mother would have bought them, but I’d not have dreamed of asking.  I wasn’t at all deprived, but I had few opportunities to buy what I wanted for myself, it was all my mother’s choice.

As a child, I craved sweets and can still remember how I longed for them.  My mother didn’t disapprove of ice cream, now I think of it, and that was allowed, and I snaffled the occasional sugar lump, but actual sweets were a rare treat.  Some children seemed to have inexhaustible supplies and were generous, but I couldn’t take something I was not in a position to offer a return for.  I do remember (this is a first, darlings, I’ve never told this to anyone before) occasionally finding a dropped sweet in the playground and, if it wasn’t too dirty, picking it up and dusting it off and eating it.  Awfully disappointing if it had been found by ants first.

The result of having so little cash was that I was extremely canny with it.  Much later, when I had a Saturday job, I never ran out of money.  I had a simple rule – I didn’t buy anything that cost more than half of what I had.  If I wanted something, I had to save up for it, so wasn’t inclined to fritter money away, but by the time I had enough to pay for the desired object, I often wasn’t that bothered about owning it any more.  My only other rule was to contribute to the housekeeping.  By this time, my father had died and my mother had been left with a hugely reduced income, once Death Duties had been paid (money was deemed to be the husband’s in 1970 and she was taxed heavily – no tax-free inheritance to the spouse in those days) and I used to buy a little food treat every month when I was paid.  I might buy a bunch of grapes, some steak or good cheese, something we couldn’t usually afford.

A thoroughly rambling post today, but I’m going to reminisce about all those sweets next, I think.  Whatever happened to Spangles?

5 comments on “Z at school 7 – pocket money

  1. Mike Horner

    If you’re going to talk sweets in your next entry, I may be jumping the gun a bit here – One of the things that could be bought without coupons (remeber rationing ?) during and just after the war was liqorice root. It looked like old twigs and when chewed had a delicious liqorice flavour. A few years ago when the ‘Swedish’ grandchildren were staying for Christmas, Father Christmas put liqorice root into their stockings. They were doubtful about this until I ‘recognised’ it, and showed them how to enjoy it. Rather to my surprise, they loved it ! Whenever they’ve stayed over Christmas since, including this one just past, they’ve found a stick of liquorice root in their stockings, and have much appreciated it.

  2. Z Post author

    Jump away, Mike – no, I don’t remember rationing!
    Sugar rationing ended the month I was born and it all finished the next year. I’ve seen liquorice root but I don’t think I’ve ever tried it.

  3. PixieMum

    I can remember rationing – just. The memory is of four ration books, two green and two beige in my mother’s shopping basket.

    Our family weren’t great sweet eaters, in my teens I remember returning from school, having a cup of tea with my mother, often there would be a treat like grapes or a share of Cadbury ‘s Bournville chocolate.

  4. 63mago

    Oh GOtt, Taschengeld. No. Never was able to keep it together, always lacked the self-discipline you describe, and I admire. Was always too much of a gambler. Murmelspiel, snicking coins to the wall, betting, Würfel, later billiards – I cold not keep it together. It became better when I grew up, but … Sorry, I am very bad with money. I can still play billiards, if that helps …

    BTW you are triggering a lot of memories in my head.

  5. sablonneuse

    At least I can still log in here. Would you believe WordPress won’t help you unless you are a paying member at the moment because they have too many requests!
    I agree children should be taught to manage money and I used to give my two their entire child allowance BUT they had to pay for their school meals out of it and they had savings accounts at the Poat Office but it was up to them how much they paid in.
    Sorry you were deprived of sweets as a little girl. I can remember buying Black Jacks (4 for 1d) and also Spangles and Smarties. but can’t remember how much pocket money I was given – or maybe i just had a few pence from time to time when there was some to spare.


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