Happy New Year

It was minus five outside but only zero inside as he scraped the ice from the window so as he could see out. He was feeling rather lucky this year, as two years ago it had reached minus eight inside and he had to wear a woolly hat over his ears when he went to sleep to prevent chilblains on his ears. Also this year he had some luck on Christmas eve at his local shop, where punnets of grapes were close to their sell-by date and therefore at half price, so he was able to buy two instead of the usual one, this gave him a treat for the following day, to add to the wholemeal loaf and four pints of milk, which had been his daily purchase for the past six months since the bank had quadrupled their charges for overdrawn accounts.

The thought of the man from the next street who had been in the same year as himself at school, crossed his mind. The poor man had died of a heart attack four days before Christmas, his two young children had crossed the road to a neighbour’s house and asked for help as “Daddy won’t wake up”.

He himself was feeling very lucky indeed as he was still alive but never the less could keel over to the same fate at any time. He thought about his own children, who he would not be seeing again this Christmas, as he could not afford to on his £5 a day, which he had for his one punnet of grapes, loaf of bread and bottle of milk, the rest all went on bills and debts.

The mother of his children had her birthday very soon, but he wouldn’t have to worry about that again this year as she has died four years ago. It was now fourteen years since he had been in full time work, ever since taking voluntary redundancy to look after his two children whose mother was no longer able to.

It was time to log into Universal Jobmatch, it had to be done every day along with searching all the other job agency websites for possible vacancies. He didn’t hold much hope as without a trade his only chances were minimum wage jobs needing the use of a car to get to their locations, his own car had been long off the road and lay rotting in the garage as the running costs were way beyond his Job Seekers Allowance so he relied upon buses to get anywhere, their timetable rarely matched any start times or locations of any jobs on offer.

He had been offered an interview for a trainee bus driver in Bristol but without money for the train fare or smart clothes required for the interview he had to pass it over, he would not have been able to get to the depot for his shifts anyhow. It would have taken him six months to save up to get his car running again, so he was caught in a catch twenty two. He no longer expected to work again at his age either, so had only death to look forward to.

Tomorrow would be different though, as people would no longer be asking did you have a nice Christmas, instead they would be saying, “Have a Happy New Year”.

All characters appearing in the above work are fictitious.
Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

2 January, 2015

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All images and written works by David Forward are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License