Donald MacInnes: A glutton for punishment, my card’s really on the ropes this time


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The Independent Online

Last week I detailed how my flimsy little Santander debit card had taken a man-sized kicking in Miami, due to the demands placed upon me to make sure I tipped with as much largesse as American waiting staff deemed acceptable (for the record, it's 83 per cent of the value of the bill, plus a 3 per cent cut of your net wages for the next four years, plus a set of Argos pasta plates). However, that shock to my monetary system was but a stern telling-off compared with the toe-to-toe slugfest to which this day, Christmas Eve, provides the climax.

As big-spending Saturdays go, this is the heavyweight championship of the world, in Las Vegas, against a 7ft-tall opponent with more stamina, a longer reach and a flashier silk robe, his name embroidered on the back in gold thread (Ronnie "The Overdraft" Retail).

Of course, as a contest, this bout is over before you even open your wallet. Following what seems like hours of punishment, your bruised rectangle of plastic is in a daze of pain and confusion; swiping the air, vainly searching for that one knockout purchase that will mean you can step into Christmas with your head held high. Your rational self (in the form of a grizzled old trainer with a squashed nose and rasping Brooklyn accent) stands outside the ropes, imploring your card: "Stay down, kid! It ain't worth it! Come February, no one will remember what ya got them! Stay down! Ya wanna be eatin' through a toob the rest of your life?"

Even the soon-to-be-victorious Mr Retail is standing over your spreadeagled card, sickened by the carnage he imposed and pleading with his vanquished opponent to see sense (even though it's currently seeing three of everything): "Listen to him, kid! Stay down. I don't wanna have ta kill ya!"

But your card invariably staggers to its feet on a count of eight, shakily assuring a sceptical referee that it can fight on and that, yes, it can remember its name (it can't).

And so we buy that 6ft tube of Jaffa Cakes in the hope that the cousin to which they are gifted will agree that their monetary value is equal to or greater than that of the pre-owned DVD of The Vicar of Dibley from a bargain bin during a closing down sale in Blockbuster.

Forgive me. I'm not being cynical. I actually love Christmas shopping, which is why I have to go now and get mine finished. Anyway, my card is beginning to see better out of its left eye and is keen on a rematch with the January sales. The fool.

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