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Spend & Save

Donald MacInnes: For my Next trick, they got the heavy mob involved...

In The Red

I can't even begin to explain how bad with money I was when I was younger. However, given that my failure to do so would result in you staring at a blank space in a newspaper more famed for having words collected into interesting stories – none of them, thankfully, concerning the amount of cellulite on Jessie J's thighs (just for the record, her chart-busting pins are as tight as a Hollyoaks storyline, girls!) – I should probably make an effort to elaborate on my fiscal ineptitude.

Simply put, the fact that all of my bills are now paid promptly and with no fuss by direct debit is certainly not down to my being at all organised.

I only got to this stage when it became obvious that if I didn't begin to pay my creditors in a more regular fashion, I was going to end up sleeping with the fishes. Or at least lying on the bottom of the River Thames as the fish swam past and wondered what the smell was. Something had to give. And by "something" I mean "me" and by "give", I mean "money to them".

A couple of weeks ago I told you how my first full-time job with a teenage girls' pop magazine rewarded me with the huge salary of £110 per week. You would think that, given we are talking about a period of time 72 years ago, this would have represented a living wage, but it was far from that. And being that I was regularly having to interview a parade of stars (including Gonch and Ziggy from Grange Hill), I had to have a wardrobe that didn't look like I was appearing in a local production of Oliver!

So I got a store card for Next and proceeded to run up a balance of around £342,000. When the monthly bills started to come in, I took a Zen, almost Buddhist approach to payment.Namely, I sat cross-legged on the floor and chanted, hoping this would make them go away.

It didn't work, so things escalated and I started to get letters with parts of them written in red, threatening me with all sorts of punishment, up to and including banning me from every branch of Next until the year 4000. Thankfully, I already had sufficient pairs of chinos to enable me to start my own army, so I ignored them.

Then it all started to get really messy. Lawyers got involved. Then collection agencies. Then I started to get scraps of paper shoved through my letterbox signed by people called Sal "The Clam" Benedetto and Raymond "Suffering" Di Franco. Then things got really weird. But for details you'll have to wait until next week …