Teenagers on the other hand are a whole different ballgame. All items on their Christmas list are the size of a 50p piece and cost a gazillion times more. Santa would need to re-mortgage his workshop and redeploy several elves to get even close to the amount of money needed to fill a teenager's stocking.
School trips start from about £250, and they need so much school uniform it's a wonder they have any time for learning at all with all the changing that must go on.
With this worry constantly in the back of my mind, I have always worked. Recently, however, I have joined the growing ranks of the unemployed in the UK, and the once niggling worry is now jumping all over my brain like a child on a bouncy castle. Luckily, the mortgage payments are covered by the insurance, but, my insurance company informs me, my claim is not valid unless I sign on.
"Right," I naively thought, "That should be easy enough."
Oh how wrong I was...
I arrived at the Job Centre, eagerly clutching an envelope full of relevant paperwork, on the first day it opened after Christmas. The Job Centre was empty, apart from a 'yoof' who looked as if she was expecting applause for being out of bed at such an ungodly hour (1.30pm) and two security front men.
Me: I'd like to sign on please.
Security man: You need an appointment.
Me: But there's no-one here.
SM: That's the system. Here's the number to call.
Me (wondering if the proffered number is in fact the number for the 'phone on the desk in front of him): Can I not just see someone now? There's no-one else here.
SM: No. You have to go away, ring the number, get your appointment and come back.
Me: Well, can I ring now?
SM (unnerved by a question not on the card): It's not usually done, but I suppose so.
I get out my 'phone and move to sit on one of the many empty chairs.
SM: You can't ring from in here. You have to go away and ring. That's the rules.
Me: I suppose this system, complicated as it is, is creating jobs...
The irony was lost on the 3 amoebas in the Job Centre. I moved outside and sat in the car, where I rang the number in full view of the Job Centre reception and it's 3 inhabitants. The man on the 'phone offered me an appointment for the following Tuesday.
Me: Can I have an appointment now, please? I'm sitting just outside.
Phone man: Oh. Why are you outside? You're supposed to go home and ring from there.
Phone man: I'm afraid next Tuesday is the first available appointment. They're very busy over the Christmas period.
Me: THEY'RE NOT BUSY!! I CAN SEE THEM!! THEY ARE CHATTING AND DRINKING TEA!! In the two hours it has taken me to reach this point, NO-ONE HAS COME IN OR GONE OUT!!!
Phone man (unknowingly quoting 'Little Britain'): Computer says 'no'.
I'm going back on Tuesday. It is highly likely this post may have a Part 2...
Today: Reasons to start your own business, courtesy of You Tube and Loose Change TV