Within seconds of waking up this morning I remembered it was the start of Live Below the Line week. I would be lying if I said the ensuing emotion was one that even mildly resembled excitement. Instead, I dragged myself out of bed (which my husband will argue is no different to any other day) and boiled the kettle for my usual cup of tea. However, it wasn’t my regular cup of tea at all. It cost less than 1p (27p for 80 tea bags and a splash of UHT skimmed milk) and while I am renowned for only ever finishing half a cup of anything, today I savoured every mouthful until I could see white porcelain at the bottom of the mug.
My first proper reality-check came when I calculated the cost of my watery porridge with banana versus the dog’s pellets, rice and turkey-mince combo…and realised his breakfast cost more than mine. But the little blighter earned his keep when I scored a sponsorship from his dog-walker. Plus, we had a great chat about Fairtrade and he left more enlightened about his contribution to the end of extreme poverty. That conversation alone made my bland instant-noodle lunch worth it.
To escape the tedium of studies and an afternoon sans study snacks, I decided to take the dog for a long walk in Wimbledon Common. It was a gorgeous day and I actually felt like I was somehow more appreciative of the things I don’t have to pay for.
Having just finished making my dinner for the week – lentil and kidney-bean cottage pie with instant mash (out of a packet!) – I’m aware of what a gamble I took. If this went wrong, I was going to be forced to eat a horrible dinner for five days straight or go hungry. It made me realise what a skill cooking is when you are living in poverty. When you live on £1 a day, there is no room for burned rice or over-salted beans. You eat it regardless. To my sheer relief, my dinner was surprisingly good. So good, in fact, that I’d like to go back for seconds. But I can’t. There’s only enough for five days.
I have one more biscuit ration for today which I am going to enjoy with another precious cup of tea when my revision of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four threatens to overwhelm me. And tomorrow I get to look forward to…doing it all over again. If you would still like to sponsor me as I take the Live Below the Line challenge, you can do so here.