Alice-Azania Jarvis: 'Spending money on my own birthday just isn't appealing'

In The Red
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The Independent Online

So, not long until my birthday. Less than a fortnight, actually, since it falls on Thursday week. It's all rather depressing given the current circumstances. Usually by now I'd be pretty excited – if only because I tend to view the day as an excuse to eat, drink and spend as much as I want.

This year, that thought is decidedly less appealing. One reason, I suppose, is my age. It's beginning to dawn on me that I can't spend my entire life hovering in the disorganised hinterland of semi-studentified early-twenties chaos. Proper adulthood beckons. One day, instead of arriving home and shoving my post, unopened, in to a pile, I'm going to have to get my act together and buy some filing cabinets (or something).

This year, that day seems unnervingly close – if only because of my continued persecution at the hands of Moorcroft Debt Recovery. I received a fourth threatening note last week (the result of yet another "error on the system", apparently) and felt the same sense of dread as I did with the first. It's rather like having a particularly strict schoolteacher breathing down your neck to make sure you don't bunk off – at least, I'm hoping it has the same effect.

Of course, there are plenty of other reasons that I should dread the day. I feel obliged, somehow, to celebrate – to mark the occasion with a meal, a night out, or even a birthday party. But the thought of such an incongruous expenditure is just not appealing – even if it is for my own self-indulgence.

Especially if it's for my own self-indulgence, in fact. Is it really fair to ask my cash-strapped friends to trek all the way to some dive of a bar in East London, specifically for the purpose of buying me drinks and singing "Happy Birthday"? After all, no one has much money to spend these days – even those who've managed to keep their jobs.

I'm just as reluctant to host any type of event myself. My flat is still largely unfurnished (have you seen how much a sofa costs?) and no matter how much alcohol your guests bring with you, a hefty off-licence bill is still largely unavoidable.

So, 12 days to go and I still don't have a plan. It's a sign of the times but also, perhaps, of maturity. They always say that the older you get, the less birthdays seem like celebrations.

So maybe – just maybe – if I spend the day on the sofa with a Marmite sandwich I'll start opening my post, and the bailiffs will cease to call.

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