Thoughts For The Day: Don't Money Lend, My Friend

Lending cash to your mates is awkward. 'When will I get it back?' you wonder. 'Will I have to ask for it?' - if only it was as easy as turning away as they slip it into your coat, never to be mentioned again.
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Lending cash to your mates is awkward. 'When will I get it back?' you wonder. 'Will I have to ask for it?' - if only it was as easy as turning away as they slip it into your coat, never to be mentioned again.

I had to lend a mate money last weekend and far from being pleased with my generosity, I have to tell you, well, I have to tell someone, anyone actually, that it really ruined my weekend. I know I need to address this frugal thing. I’ve spent the whole first part of this week telling myself I will get the money back next weekend. But now I’m thinking, will I have to ask for it? If I don’t, how long before I get that money? Will I need to ask that mate how his week's been first? How much small talk will I have to make?

There should be an unwritten rule that borrowed money is returned upon next immediate contact with the borrower. They should have the money in their hands soon as they see you. Or, there should be an unwritten rule where you just leave your coat on a chair, and the borrower just slips money in one of its pockets, and no one acknowledges it. There’s no awkward moment. You see them walking over to your coat, you see the notes peeking out of their bunched fists, and you know where they’re going, you know what they’re doing, and they know you know, but no one needs to say anything.

There are people out there who do lend money, and I just don’t understand how they can function when someone asks them for money. There are plenty of times I’ve needed money, but I’ve never asked for it because I’d be too worried about them asking to borrow money off me in future.

My mate gets paid next week. I’m thinking I could ask him to lunch Thursday, to get my money earlier, on the pretence it’d be good to hook up. But would I then have to pay for lunch? Given he'd be paying me back, would he stump up extra on lunch? Awkward.

Now, I’m actually living in a hotel and have been since mid-summer because I just can’t get my life together. I imagine my situation to be like that of a footballer who’s just switched clubs and is holed up in a hotel for his first few months at his new team, whilst some club lackey tries to source him some new million pound plus home, except no one’s looking for my next home. The newsletters from FindaProperty.com informing me of the latest magnificent must see studios don’t get to me because the free wifi the hotel claimed was available in every room is only accessible if I take my laptop and stand outside the communal WC on the first floor.

"There should be an unwritten rule where you just leave your coat on a chair, and the borrower just slips money in one of its pockets, and no one acknowledges it."

It calls itself a hotel, but I think like the Champions League, it’s not really what it claims to be. You get breakfast, and one bar of soap and loo roll a week (and never on the same day every week), and the maids steal from you at least twice a week. I’m buying cheap stuff that I leave as decoys around my room so they steal those rather than what’s left of my most important possessions.

Anyway, I think some friends assume that because I’m living in a hotel, and because I’m a ‘columnist’ (my fault – having, in an earlier piece for ST, referred to myself as a columnist) for Sabotage Times, I’m actually doing well and so the approaches for money have come in more frequently this summer. And these approaches have come from people whom I know are better off than me. I need to be rich, if only so that lending people money won't be such a big deal.

Right now, mentally, I'm all over the place, wondering when this money, a not insignificant amount, will come back to me. And I’m certain my mouth did a funny movement when I was asked for the cash. If I'd had some warning, I'd have bitten on my lip and quashed any involuntary shocked mouth movement that occurred when I was asked for it. Obviously, if and when my mate returns the money, I’ll have to go through the motions and say, "You sure?", desperately hoping he doesn't say, "well, actually"... That bit’s almost as bad as being asked for the money in the first place.

Shortly after lending the money, as I made my way back to my hotel (okay, I admit, that does sound good), I refused to pay 60p for a pint of milk. It felt good. Like I was clawing back some of this money I’d lent.

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