Dulltown, Europe: Today’s choice adjectives are: carbonated, fingered, caducibranchiate, crumpled, ocular, and fleshy.
Careful with money, stingy, tight, deep pockets short arms, skinflint, Scrooge-like, are a few words and phrases that describe people who are, shall we say, ‘not known for their generosity’? I have encountered a few of these folk in my time, and in my experience this skinflintery nearly always seems to go hand in hand with emotional meanness. Oh, the poor things!…
This affliction seems independent of how much money these people actually have; I’ve known very rich people and very poor people who in their tightwaddery were surprisingly similar.
I think this attitude to thrift is probably learned in childhood and therefore must be very difficult to shake off. People who measure their lives with money rarely see the light and blossom (Scrooge-style) into warm generous human beings who are fun to be with. I must admit that I do find these people amusing, and occasions they will look up and say, ‘Dave, what are you smiling at?…’
‘Oh, nothing…’ I reply, as they carry on trying to stick the thin sliver that remains of the old bar of soap onto the side of the new one, or struggle to sharpen the last inch-and-a-half of a pencil. I can understand this in older people who grew up in bad times when life was much harder than it is today. Yes, let’s try to save the planet and not waste stuff, but when it comes to day-to-day living and interpersonal relationships, come on, let’s loosen up a bit!
I can’t help but smile when I recall examples of this sort of behaviour that I have witnessed or had related to me:
The chap who had his new girlfriend over to stay the night and in the morning charged her thirty pence for her breakfast egg…
One evening I was doing some woodwork for a couple of friends of mine. It was a very warm night and I was energetically sawing some timber; the chap popped his head around the door and said, ‘Fancy a beer Dave?’
‘Oh, yes,’ I said, ‘That would be very nice.’
A few minutes later he and his partner came in with a single small can of beer and three glasses, one for each of us.’
A friend of mine had some friends round at his flat and found that he had run out of sugar for his guests’ hot beverages. ‘It’s alright,’ he said, ‘I’ll nip down and get some from the chap in the flat below.’ On knocking on the door of the flat and explaining what he wanted, the chap below disappeared into his flat for a moment and then came back with some of those little wrapped sugar cubes* that he had obviously pinched from cafe tables. He unwrapped one and tipped out two or three of the tiny cubes into his palm and said, ‘How many do you need?…’
*Nowadays cafe sugar comes in little sachets rather than wrapped cubes.