Anyone following my blog with attention over the last year will have noted regular comments about my dwindling financial resources. The sale last August of the Cottage helped immensely to stop the rot. But I still have a house to run, a car to fuel, a normal social life, Christmas and birthdays and holidays to find money for, and not least ongoing electrolysis to pay for. All on a pension that many would regard as pretty good, but all the same is still less than average earnings. I have no other income.
Since the Cottage went, I've been putting money away in my savings account every month by standing order, but really it's only to spread my costs. My forward figurings show that it'll all get drawn out again over the next year. It'll be 2014 before I will actually start to make headway with my savings. Salvation will come with a big bang in November 2014, when my State Pension kicks in. Then I can finally save big time, and eventually (for example) afford a trip to New Zealand to see my step-daughter.
Meanwhile, some extra cash would be handy. The obvious answer is to get a job.
Yes, it's not so simple. The present dire state of the jobs market is well known. There is certainly work out there, but a lot of it isn't suitable for my age or physical limitations. My old job hasn't left me with skills that I can readily sell, not after seven years of retirement. I'd be willing to try something very different, but I can see that I'd be coming up against the same problem as most people: if the job isn't local, then travelling expenses will take a big bite out of the net pay. A bus pass (available when I'm 60 in July) isn't much use when you live outside the city - I'd have to drive in Fiona, and park her too, maybe at some cost. Then there's income tax and national insurance contributions. I get nothing from any further NIC paid - money down the drain, which would be highly annoying. If I was taken on at the legal minimum wage - highly likely - I might not be very much better off for the effort made, and the leisure time foregone. Which negates the entire point of finding a job in the first place!
Office work would suit my past experience best, but if I'm going to sit on my bottom in some office, maybe in front of a computer screen, thumping a keyboard all day, I think I'd be better off at home. At least I can then take a break when I like, and avoid enforced inactivity. It wouldn't help my weight problem one bit.
Which brings up the subject of control. I've escaped from the tyranny of managers. I've had seven years of undiluted freedom from someone overseeing what I do, telling me what they want done, and having to work within a team. Seven years of rule-free existence. Seven years of living without restrictions and personality clashes and insane procedures. Although middling-senior in my Department, I was never completely in charge of my daily life. At the moment I am. I don't think I would easily be able to adapt to imposed control again. Certainly not as a shop assistant or a shelf stacker. I'd tolerate most anything to save my life, of course; but when I simply want extra cash for holidays the price to pay, the likelihood of being at someone's beck and call, is not attractive.
And then there's the risk of victimisation. I'm trans, and whatever my superficial skills at passing, the fact will be noticed and people will react to it, whether boss or colleagues. It may make it very hard to land a job in the first place. But even if I'm successful, someone is bound to make life difficult for me. Do I really want that hassle? Admittedly the law can help me. Once I have my GRC, the Equality Act will be there to use as a woman can use it, not simply as a trans person. But of course it's a big gun that won't assist much in day-to-day life at work. It won't stop the little comments and glances amd appraising looks and sly jokes that I'm not supposed to hear, but will.
I don't need a job to stave off boredom. Nor to meet people. Just for the cash. That's a very good reason for seeking work, but then there's a moral issue here too. There are many people who also need a job - downhearted youngsters not long out of school, desperate mothers and fathers with children to look after, pensioners who live in virtual poverty - and I do ask myself whether it's right to take a job from someone who needs it more. I'm not highly principled, nor do I possess much of a social conscience, but this kind of thinking has run through my mind. I do live comfortably, and I'd want the extra money only for personal reasons, not to survive. Would it be selfish to 'steal' work from someone else? Because I'm sure I could. I'd make a good impression at any interview, if I got that far, and the interviewer wasn't put off by my age or transness. But would it be the moral thing to do?
Too much analysis?
I feel a bit like a posh privileged child wanting to play at Going To Work. Unfair? Well, look at the bottom line: if I got a job, and I didn't like it, I could walk out and it would make no great difference to me. I wouldn't go hungry, nor have to make drastic economies. People who genuinely need to work can't walk out as they please.
Or, even more fundamentally, am I just lazy by nature? My Mum always thought I was never cut out for work. All this agonising may simply be a way of finding excuses not to work at all. Some would say that's exactly the case. And it's probably true. Sigh.
At Melford Hall, comfortably ensconced on the settee, Lucy picks up a copy of Country Life and idly flicks the glossy pages. The fire crackles. Withers, her butler, enters.
Withers: 'Will you be going out this afternoon, my Lady?'
Lucy: 'No, Withers, it's a bit cold. I'll just have tea as usual.'
Withers: 'Very good, my Lady.'