Sarah Todd: Home & Country

Sarah Todd says teens should get used to handling real money.  Pic: Martin Keene/PA Wire
Sarah Todd says teens should get used to handling real money. Pic: Martin Keene/PA Wire
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A CEILING came down this week. There had been a constant drip-drip of water escaping from the shower and then, without any dramatic creaks or cracks, the plaster below came crumbling down.

Thanks goodness it was The Daughter in at the time. Like all girls, she can wrap her father around her little finger, so there were no raised voices or recriminating stares.

If yours truly had been in: a) the whole lot (including me) would have come tumbling down, and, b) it would have been put down to a personal fault such as ‘taking too long to wash your hair’.

Kind words were found in the most unlikely of places; the bank. For the first time in about six months there was a cheque to pay in. What a pleasant experience. A cheery ‘Good morning Mrs …’ and ‘Is there anything else we can do for you today?’

It’s such a shame the way business has swung so much away from the personal touch. An old invoice book with carbon copy sheet is - yes, it’s probably rather strange - a proud possession. Such joy can be had from looking back and remembering deals done and the fee charged.

Now, it’s all done on the blessed computer. No cheque book stubs or paying-in books to keep things straight.

When a cheque used to arrive there was the feeling of actually having the money in your hands. You’d earnt it; worked for it. Here it was. Usually hanging around on the kitchen table for a few days in pride of place until being paid in at the bank.

One of my earliest memories is going to do the banking with my grandpa after market.

Farming families doing their shopping on market day and fitting it all in around calling in at the bank before closing will ring a bell with many. My grandma used to go into town on market day, while her husband was at market so wouldn’t need any dinner making, and get all the shopping.

The fact that children so rarely see money being dealt with - it’s all done in the dead-of-night in front of a computer screen - can’t be good for their fiscal futures.

Many of The Daughter’s friends have debit cards, so if they go shopping for new clothes they just pass over the plastic. Can this be okay for 12 and 13 year-olds? She has to dig around her bedroom, empty piggy banks and coat pockets, to find some hard cash. Going out with a purse full of money and coming back without - and then having to save up again for the next trip - is surely a basic life lesson?

Shopping for clothes isn’t something that worries The Son. His mind is on conkers. He found a box and filled it with egg box bottoms to create little nests for each conker. There’s also string, scissors and - wait for it - about 20 copies of this disclaimer (pictured).

“People have to know that if they’re playing conkers they can’t go off to the teacher crying,” he explained matter-of-factly. Maybe he could draw a document relinquishing all liability for shower usage?