ON MONDAY MORNING I wake early, feeling rather hollow inside. My gaze flits to the pile of
Unopened carrier bags in the corner of my room and then quickly flits away again. I know I spent too
Much money on Saturday. I know I shouldn’t have bought two pairs of boots. I know I shouldn’t have
Bought that purple dress. In all, I spent. . . Actually, I don’t want to think about how much I spent. Think
About something else, quick, I instruct myself. Something else. Anything’ll do.
I’m well aware that at the back of my mind, thumping quietly like a drumbeat, are the twin horrors of
Guilt and Panic.
Guilt Guilt Guilt Guilt.
Panic Panic Panic Panic.
If I let them, they’d swoop in and take over. I’d feel completely paralyzed with misery and fear. So the
Trick I’ve learned is simply not to listen. My mind is very well trained like that.
My other trick is to distract myself with different thoughts and activities. So I get up, switch the radio on,
Take a shower, and get dressed. The thumping’s still there at the back of my head, but gradually,
Gradually, it’s fading away. As I go into the kitchen and make a cup of coffee, I can barely hear it
Anymore. A cautiousrelief floods over me, like that feeling you get when a painkiller finally gets rid of your
Headache. I can relax. I’m going to be all right.
On the way out I pause in the hall to check my appearance in the mirror (Top: River Island, Skirt:
French Connection, Tights: Pretty Polly Velvets, Shoes: Ravel) and reach for my coat (Coat: House of
Fraser sale). Just then the post plops through the door, and I go to pick it up. There’s a handwritten letter
For Suze and a postcard from the Maldives. And for me, there are two ominous-looking window
Envelopes. One from VISA, one from Endwich Bank.
For a moment, my heart stands still. Why
another letter from the bank? And VISA. What do they want?
Can’t they just leave me alone?
Carefully I place Suze’s post on the ledge in the hall and shove my own two letters in my pocket, telling
Myself I’ll read them on the way to work. Once I get on the tube, I’ll open them both and I’ll read them,
However unpleasant they may be.
Honestly. As I’m walking along the pavement, I promise my intention is to read the letters.
But then I turn into the next street – and there’s a skip outside someone’s house. A huge great yellow
Skip, already half full of stuff. Builders are coming in and out of the house, tossing old bits of wood and
Upholstery into the skip. Loads of rubbish, all jumbled up together.
And a little thought creeps into my mind.
My steps slow down as I approach the skip and I pause, star-ing intently at it as though I’m interested in
The words printed on the side. I stand there, trying to appear casual, until the builders have gone back
Into the house and no one’s looking. Then, in one motion, I reach for the two letters, pull them out of my
Pocket, and drop them over the side, into the skip.
As I’m standing there, a builder pushes past me with twosacks of broken plaster, and heaves them into
The skip. And now they really are gone. Buried beneath a layer of plaster, unread. No one will ever find
Gone for good.
Quickly I turn away from the skip and begin to walk on again. Already my step’s lighter and I’m feeling
Before long, I’m feeling completely purged of guilt. I mean, it’s not my fault if I never read the letters, is
It? It’s not my fault if I never got them, is it?
books in our life
Confession of a shopaholic – book one of a shopaholic series part 10