Sitting at the dining table with empty plates in front of us I can feel the dog lying on my feet out of sight, hopeful. A familiar discussion strikes up.
“How many chocolate puddings are left?” my son asks his girlfriend.
“I think there are two. How many have you had?”
“I had one yesterday. But I don’t know if one of them is Beth’s.”
“Really? I listen to this conversation every week,” I say, scooping up the plates and too many condiments to be sure of getting to the kitchen without breakages.
“You’ll use up so much emotional energy stressing about what’s left you won’t enjoy what there is,” I call back through the open door.
When I was a boy my copy of “Tiger & Scorcher” was delivered every Saturday morning, generally before I was awake.
My dad would bring it into my room and put it on my bed so that it was there for me when I opened my eyes. It’s truly one of the most precious memories of my childhood.
Most weeks I would only read the stories that were not my favourites before I got up so that I had something to look forward to when I went to bed again on Saturday night.
In my house, it wasn’t hard to imagine that there would never be enough.
It wasn’t just money that was tight. There didn’t seem to be much happiness in the people around me either, and not much certainty or stability.
But I guess I must be well over that now.
Retiring to my desk I turn on my computer and look at the little external drive I bought because it gave me an extra 3TB of space that I show absolutely no sign of needing.
There’s an email circular from comedian Daniel Kitson about some shows he’s going to stream from empty theatres in the autumn.
I buy tickets knowing that enjoying the show in the comfort of my own home means I’ll avoid another of my small idiosyncrasies.
Going to the cinema or the theatre, and getting on planes I get this surge of anxiety until I’m sitting in my allotted space. I’ve never really thought about it before but, now that I do, I see it’s about my relief at my seat, the one I have actually paid for, still being there when I reach it.
The children are in the kitchen with me now while I stack the dishwasher.
My son and his girlfriend are still negotiating over the chocolate puddings.
“You have the pudding and I’ll have the brownie that’s still left,” he says
“You’ve still got one of the brownies I made last weekend?” I ask, surprised they’ve made it this far.
“Yeah,” he says, “And I don’t think it’s a scarcity mindset. I’m just being considerate and thinking of other people,” he tells me with a smile.
I raise my eyebrows and smile back.
Pushing the sauces back into the cupboard I notice the expensive bottle of olive oil that I haven’t opened yet because I don’t want it to run out.