As the sound of my husband’s ancient Honda fades away, I’m up and at it. Springing up from my computer, I go round turning down every radiator valve, apart from the one in my room.
I work for myself from home – and like a lot of us, I’m doing it save money.
I’ve read all the tips: wear a scarf and long socks; hot water bottle on the knees; use those weird bean bags you put in the microwave for two minutes.
People I speak to on Zoom calls – clients, friends and colleagues – sometimes ask me why I’m wearing a coat and I make light of it. ‘I’ve just come in from outside,’ hoping they don’t spot my fib.
Many of them are languishing in T-Shirts and sitting in cosy-looking rooms while I’m in three layers and a fleece and decked out like someone dressed to walk up Ben Nevis on a winter’s day. Goodness knows how I became so nesh.
I know the lighter evening are cheering some of us all but there is no getting away from the fact that with the combination of increased food costs, higher bills to heat and light our homes and the imminent rise in national insurance, we’re going to feel the pinch.
In our house we are lucky. We are able to pay the bills – for now – but the daily reminder of how bad it can get is there on my Twitter feed.
Single parents and families on benefits are facing desperate choices between eat or heat. Older people my age are totting up the supermarket shop and noticing two weeks ago it was £40, and now it is £57. And they are wondering how long they can manage.
Add in ‘shrinkflation’ – where food items get smaller – and you have a recipe for despair.
Of course, all this cutting back, budgeting and being savvy when it comes to making ends meet would be second nature to my parents’ generation. My mum remembers her dad growing vegetables on his allotment in Basford and letting the chap down the road have a steady supply of potatoes and cabbage for the pig he kept in his backyard. At Christmas, they all got a bit of that pig to eat.
I don’t know anyone with a pig – and I’m veggie – so I’m not planning on taking a leaf out of his book. But I am being more frugal but also being thankful for what comes for free – the sight of my snowdrops springing up and my mum knowing every single word of the Frank Sinatra song You Make Me Feel So Young.
There’s still joy in those little things.