Tom Utley: The Free Things Our Neighbors Offer Creates A Fun Hell!

Oh, the killer allure of free stuff! Showing something for nothing has been testing my strength to resist almost to the breaking point since the height of the pandemic, when general-spirited neighbors created a WhatsApp group for the residents of my street.

I should explain that the original purpose of the group was to provide assistance with shopping, dog walking, and the like to neighbors who were forced to self-isolate.

I was very impressed with the response that showed the best of human nature. Neighbors who had barely exchanged a word with each other before Covid (I live in south London, where we tend to keep to ourselves) showed they were willing to make almost any effort to help those in need.

The offer of something for nothing has been testing my strength to resist almost to the breaking point since the height of the pandemic, when general-spirited neighbors created a WhatsApp group for the residents of my street [File photo]

The offer of something for nothing has been testing my strength to resist almost to the breaking point since the height of the pandemic, when general-spirited neighbors created a WhatsApp group for the residents of my street [File photo]

Now that we’re all freed from house arrest, the group has evolved into something a little different.

True, the same neighborhood spirit survives, with requests – granted easily – to loan tools, for example, or to help move heavy furniture. But recently, the collection has also become a shop window for merchandise that our neighbors no longer want.

Lure

In the past few days alone, our street clothes disposers have introduced shelving units, armchairs, camping gear, exercise bikes, bunk beds, stackable wire drawers, “washable bedding” (whatever they are) and all sorts of other pieces. And cut out, illustrated with pictures of things ready to grab.

But the big difference between our WhatsApp group and other online retailers is that everything that our neighbors advertise – including things in good condition, which might bring good money on the open market – is given away for free. Free. on the house.

I am sorry to say that all this generosity, arising out of the noblest of motives, has shown the worst of my possessive natures. But that’s the allure of the free stuff.

For no better reason than that those kid-sized bunk beds were given free of charge, I found myself looking at them and thinking: “Oh! These deserve! Maybe I should put it in a bag?

However, as is often the case, I was saved from overburdening myself with items I didn't need by the fact that, like almost everything the group had to offer, it was promptly picked up by others (who, dare I say it, perhaps They didn't need them either) [File photo]

However, as is so often the case, I was saved from overburdening myself with items I didn’t need by the fact that, like almost everything the group had to offer, it was instantly snapped up by others (who, dare I say it, perhaps They didn’t need them either) [File photo]

Leave aside the fact that I have no perceived need for them, as our youngest of four is now 29 years old and over 6ft tall. We also forget that our grandchildren already have perfectly fitting beds of their own.

The fact that I could have had her for nothing made her almost irresistibly attractive. Although it never occurred to me to pay for it in a store, I found myself deeply in love with this most generous offer.

I was drawn to those bed linens, which are washable, even though I had only a vague idea of ​​what they were.

However, as is so often the case, I was saved from overburdening myself with items I didn’t need by the fact that, like almost everything the group had to offer, it was instantly snapped up by others (who, dare I say it, perhaps They didn’t need them either).

I also thought, I must admit, that Mrs. U would be pissed off if she brought home those bunk beds, or that armchair, or shelving units, or camping gear or even mattress covers, which are washable.

In fact, I know I would be very upset if Jeremy Hunt, the new chancellor, rats out the Conservative Party manifesto to the triple lock, or forfeits any of the other benefits on offer to hundreds of thousands of people like me who don't really need them.

In fact, I know I would be very upset if Jeremy Hunt, the new chancellor, rats out the Tory manifesto of the triple lock, or seizes any of the other benefits on offer to the hundreds of thousands of people like me who don’t. t really need them

That’s because our marriage, like so many others I’ve come across, has long been a constant battle between anchor and hoarder. In our case, I’m the hoarder, she’s the remover (although with other mixed pairs I give you, it’s often the other way around).

In fact, in my 42 years of marital bliss, I’ve fought tooth and nail to keep my wife from getting rid of audio equipment we haven’t used in decades, favorite long-wearing white-collar T-shirts, or Latin textbooks I haven’t used. As much as it’s been looked at since I was 13 (“But, my dear, I may someday need to quote him in my column!”).

Meanwhile, my desire to collect more possessions grows stronger with each trip you take to the council’s recycling landfill. And this urgency is never more urgent than when the property in question is offered for free.

mystery

Don’t tell me I’m the only one. In fact, can you put your hand to your heart and say you were able to resist taking home twice as much veggies as you need, back in the days when every supermarket offered Bogove deals?

If so, you have a stronger willpower than me. True, I told myself that if I accepted the offer of this extra “free” bundle of buds, no one would eat them and I would just have to throw them away when they turned acne and black. But that never stopped me from taking them home.

Or look at those cheerful bundles on the faces of contestants at game shows when they learn they’ve won the mysterious prize for a TV the size of a tennis court or a collection of the best garden furniture.

Don’t care that they might live in a cramped family on the eighteenth floor of a tower, so their prizes won’t be of any use to them. Who cares when they’re free?

In the same way, I was thrilled when I turned 60 in 2013 and qualified for the 60+ card, introduced by then-mayor of London, Boris Johnson, for free travel on public transport (remember it?).

As readers with long memories remember, I resisted the offer for several weeks, telling myself that since I was still working full-time at great pay, I really didn’t need a charitable foundation from my fellow taxpayers.

But my conscience soon succumbed to my addiction to the free stuff, and I haven’t paid for my DC travel since (except, of course, through my local and national taxes).

Burning to

After nearly nine years, the government has never stopped showering me with gifts, except for the “free” health care that all Britons have been providing since 1948.

Not only do I get free travel, but I also benefit from a winter fuel allowance, free prescriptions and eye tests, reduced energy bills, and best of all, David Cameron’s expensive triple pension. I was given all this, although even in my semi-retirement I was still a higher taxpayer, with no urgent need for any of it.

Of course, many will argue – and some in the most violent terms – that no one compels me to accept any of the advantages offered to me. If I had an iota of decency, they’d say, I’ll turn them down until I leave more for those who need it most.

But how many of us, I wonder, could honestly say they would choose to cough, if they were offered the choice between paying for a trip — or a GP visit, for that matter — and getting it free at the point of delivery? I can’t speak for you, but I’m no blinker saint.

In fact, I know I would be very upset if Jeremy Hunt, the new chancellor, rats out the Tory manifesto of the triple lock, or seizes any of the other benefits on offer to the hundreds of thousands of people like me who don’t. t really need them.

This is what Rishi Sunak is facing. It is all too easy for vote-hungry politicians to do such good things at election time. It’s very hard to get rid of them again when times are tough.

But, let’s face it, most of us are adult enough to realize that nothing is actually free. We also know that the Treasury simply cannot continue to play Santa Claus with anything like the scale we’ve seen during the pandemic.

So yes, I wish Mr. Sunak every success in his mission to cure the nation’s deadly addiction to the free stuff. Just don’t expect us to smile while he’s at it.

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