Dates are funny things, aren’t they?
Stick an arbitrary label on a day, and something happens – you’ll remember that thing on the same day every year going forward.
There are birthdays, anniversaries, dates when someone died, dates when we went somewhere special.
April 6 is the day my house should have been repossessed.
I wish I didn’t remember that quite so vividly, but there you go. On this date, not so very many years ago, I was due in court to explain to a magistrate why they shouldn’t let the mortgage company take our house.
The letter had arrived a week or two earlier. I’d sat on the bottom step and cried, while Flea stroked my arm and whispered, “Be happy, Mummy,” to me.
I was £70,000 in debt after my divorce. On top of that, a client bailed on a five-figure contract I’d banked on – meaning I simply couldn’t pay the mortgage for four months, and I was spending a fortune I didn’t have on solicitors in the hope of recovering some of the money I’d lost.
As a parent, there are some fundamental things you do. You raise your child to be happy and healthy, and you put food in their belly and keep a roof over their head. Realising I might not be able to do that, because of my own stupid decisions, was a really tough lesson to learn.
I’m sure that given the recession, there are hundreds of families who’ve had a similar experience. And many of those aren’t lucky enough to have the sort of job I do – which does at least have the potential for earning some extra cash when you’re strapped. We were incredibly lucky, in so many ways. Through hard work and a healthy dose of good fortune, I found the money to pay the arrears, just before the hearing took place.
So as it turned out, April 6 was just another day.
But I don’t think I’ll ever forget the blind panic I felt staring at that date on the letter.
Life moves on, as it does, and things got better, as they usually do. Especially if you work hard, and keep at it, and are lucky enough to find great people to work with. Thankfully, the financial crisis passed without major incident, and life got calmer. Over time, I cleared the debt, and learned a few important lessons in the process about managing our finances and living not just within our means, but a bit below that.
Today, I bought myself a new car. No loans, no financing (like many people who’ve clambered out of debt, I don’t do credit any more). It’s my car, bought and paid for by my hard work.
It’s not brand new. It’s not especially fancy. But it’s all ours.
And I’m happy, just like Flea wanted.