At a bar in south-east London recently some friends and I held a competition to determine who should pay for the next round. Whichever of us had the smallest overdraft would get the drinks in. The winner seemed relieved: the compensation for shelling out was learning that she wasn’t as hopeless as the rest of us.
We were several rounds in — usually, talking about overdrafts is taboo. While we’ll confess to shameful exploits with blasé bravado (or fake chagrin), overdrafts are actually embarrassing — they suggest you’re failing at adulthood. After this black game, one friend said he was relieved to hear my number was the same as his.
I’d hazard that for many, overdrafts are more troubling than student loans. I’ve watched the recent Tory tuition fee palaver with half-interest — I graduated in 2011, went on the rabble-rousing tuition fees march through central London in 2010, and ever since I started earning enough money, some of it has been siphoned off by the Student Loans Company. The debt is so huge it’s always felt meaningless. Meanwhile, I’m horribly attuned to the size of my overdraft. Moreover, any communication from the bank, no matter how benign, makes me feel hunted. My statements live inside a laptop case, which I put under the bed for good measure.
The difference is that tuition fees are a necessary evil for most, while being a spendthrift is my fault. I deserve to pay penance, though I swear I didn’t spend it all on fripperies. Perhaps what I need is zeitgeist intervention: “kakeibo” is the latest buzzword on the same theme “sisu”, a Japanese term for financial mindfulness. Disciples document their finances in cute journals. Sounds like Instagram bait to me — we’ll all be out of debt in no time.
Try the Swaney way, if you’re that desperate for attention
I am fascinated by the sheer cheek of Elizabeth Swaney, the (really) unlikely Olympian who this week represented Hungary in a qualifying round for half-pipe skiing. This involves performing tricks while skiing along a half-pipe lined with snow, perilously high above the ground — though not if you’re Swaney, who made the event literally her own, mustering a single, half-hearted jump, coming a very, very comfortable last, and missing qualification by more than 40 points.
The 33-year-old isn’t really Hungarian but Californian. Her grandparents are from Hungary: she applied for their team after falling short of the standard required by the US team. Nor is this her first rodeo — she once made a failed bid to represent Venezuela in the skeleton bob, also by dint of some quirk of genealogy. Moreover, she once ran for the Democratic nomination for governor of California (Arnold Schwarzenegger got it) and also tried become a professional cheerleader.
She’s clearly deluded. Though I admire her pluck — it takes real balls to exhibit such a resounding lack of talent in front of other Olympians. Plus, when your usual pro starts training as a toddler, there’s something rather endearing — and formidable — in someone deciding, in their 30s, that they’d like a piece of the medal pie.
“I still want to inspire people to get involved with a new challenge at any age in life,” Swaney told interviewers after the half-pipe. If she finds the challenge she’s good at, she’ll be unstoppable.
Pain conquers all in the glass house
Apple’s HQ in Cupertino, California, is rendered almost entirely in glass. Walls, doors, meeting rooms, all transparent — though presumably the bathrooms make a nod to privacy.
The future is not all it’s cracked up to be, though: Bloomberg reports Apple employees keep walking into walls. Duly, employees are affixing Post-it notes to surfaces as caution signs, scandalising the aesthetes in the building. This passive-aggressive spat is familiar to anyone who’s ever conducted a war with housemates exclusively through notes left on the kitchen counter. People in glass houses should let it go.
I’ve had enough sleepless nights
Research finds that more than half of all couples are now sleeping in beds bigger than your standard double. We’re upgrading to kings and super-kings in order to get a better night’s slumber. After three years at university trying to conduct a romantic life in an institution-issued single, I sympathise with the five per cent stuck in berths for one.
Obviously, you upgrade if you can. 4am is no time to have an acid, whispered argument about the division of space — nor to take matters into your own hands. Last week I pretended my boyfriend had jerked awake of his own accord when, in fact, I’d shoved him. His head was on my pillow — sleepless nights make monsters of us all.