Donald MacInnes: My ex-backpacker wife gets drastic when I eye the plastic

In The Red
  • @DonaldAMacInnes

There is a nursery rhyme that goes: Jack Sprat could eat no fat, His wife could eat no lean, And so betwixt the two of them, They licked the platter clean. And, taken literally, aside from encapsulating my aversion to anything but the leanest, crispiest bacon or the trimmest cut of beef, it also metaphorically describes the approach to shopping in our house.

While my wife takes the phrase "careful with money" to new levels of prudence, I adopt a more "Johnny Big Wallet" approach. I love spending money about as much as she hates it. And yes, she is English, while I am Scottish, so put than in your regional stereotyping pipe and smoke it.

We suspect my wife's aversion to financial outlay stems from the fact that she spent much of her younger days travelling the world as a flip-flopped, friendship-braceleted backpacker, so usually had to make her Peruvian Ding-dong or Mesopotamian Hoo-hoo go as far as possible. Yes, I am aware that those are not currencies for those parts of the world, but my understanding of global tender is not the issue here.

As a result of her having to live for extended periods of time on not a great deal of money and being financially in a position to eat only food which could, at one end of the scale, be described as "basic" and, at the other end of the scale, as "shallow-fried insects", she has a level of cautiousness which seems to complement perfectly my "chuck some money at it" approach to life. As the cast of Grease sang at the end of the movie: "We go together, like ram-a-lam-a-ding-dong." Although, what they were doing singing about Peruvian money is beyond me. But so is Peru, as in far away, so not to worry.

From where I got my financial profligacy is anyone's guess. I have certainly discussed in these pages my youthful imbecility when it came to paying bills on time or avoiding a situation when you have the actual owner of the Next chain of clothes shops calling you up at home and demanding (with swearing) that you pay something towards your pulsatingly vast store card deficit or suffer a lifetime ban from his stores.

Wherever it came from, my generosity towards shops is balanced nicely by my wife's sensible attitude to splurging. She even knows when I am about to whip out a debit card before I feel the need to do so. Apparently, I get a look in my eye which gives her time to grab my wallet and throw it somewhere she knows I definitely can't get it – the Next menswear department…