The Billy Bragg T–Shirt Challenge


The very t-shirt I did not buy


Last week I got a great text from a friend, it was Sunday morning and I was contemplating whether I could spend the whole day in my PJ’s when I noticed there was a message on my phone. As usual I had the sound was turned down so hadn’t noticed it come in. As my phone dumped all my contacts a while ago I wasn’t sure, at first, who has sent it. So half assuming it was some sort of spam I glanced at it before looked more closely. ‘I have a spare ticket to Billy Bragg tonight – do you want to come’. Do I want to go and see Billy Bragg? Silly question, I can’t imagine ever saying know to that. Thankfully the message was signed so I didn’t have to reply – yes please and who are you?

I texted back as fast as my middle-aged thumbs would allow – ‘count me IN!’

I am definitely out of touch as I wasn’t even aware that Billy Bragg was in Australia. I went to the website to see what gig I had agreed to attend (wouldn’t it be terrible if Billy had gone all religious and was doing a bible reading).   The gig turned out to be Billy Bragg and Joe Henry ‘Shine a Light Tour’. The two of them jumped on a train in Chicago and went across the USA getting off and recording train songs along the way. Not officially – they just found a quiet spot and recorded the track and then got back on the train.   How cool would that be, just like being old style wandering minstrels or hobos (there was much hobo discussion during the gig).

How good was this? – Billy Bragg and trains – two if my favourite things. I, of course, caught the train into the city for the gig.

The gig did not disappoint – it was magical, in the amazing Melbourne Recital Centre, even the seats were comfortable. More like going on a journey with a good friend than a traditional gig, I enjoyed every minute. The songs are still in my head and the feeling of just being in the moment, being totally happy and content exactly where you are.

So after all that joy what I needed to top it off, to keep the moment alive was some merchandise.   I love buying t-shirts at gigs, I have draws full of them, going all the way back to Glastonbury 1982. I do wear the t-shirts, although I probably have enough to last about 50 years, it is not like they wear out quickly. I wanted a t-shirt badly but on this occasion I had to watch my friends buy merchandise and step back looking on longingly (Helen step away from the merch). I almost waivered, my friend offered to buy one for me, but I sadly said no, there was no way a t-shirt I did not need could be defined as anything other than stuff. The whole thing was made more difficult by the fact that it was a particularly nice t-shirt, blue, with a train on it. But I am not buying stuff so I took a picture instead. I am still a bit sad about this one…..

PS – Coming soon what happened to my tablet, will I get it fixed?


Week 13 Officeworks and saving money


Wow what a massive temptation, I had to go to Officeworks this week, to get some supplies for an upcoming consultation, this could have been bad.

Stationary is one of my favourite indulgences (along with Gin), I just love notebooks and pens and pencils, particularly mechanical pencils, they are the best. So when I have to go to Officeworks or another stationary store, I usually pick myself up a couple of note books and a pencil or two to add to my collection – after all I am bound to need them one day.

So knowing that this was a weakness I determined to be strong and only buy what I needed for this particular consultation. I wrote a list and set off to the store, to discover I had forgotten my list and the USB containing the map I needed printing. Still I persevered and wandered round the store looking at all the cool stuff, I picked up a very nice looking notebook just $4.50, what a barging! Still I was strong and put it back down again. I bypassed the mechanical pencils – will power is a limited resource and I did not want to take that risk. I even got through the check out ‘maze of temptation’ (you know that bit at the end that has lots of $3-$5 bits and pieces that look oh so useful). When I went to pay I was surprised by how cheap the trip was – I might be onto something here.

Well, I think we can call that a success and saving money is always good, in fact many people have said to me ‘you must be saving heaps of money’ doing this (stuff reduction). Sadly this is not the case. Well I say that but in truth I have no idea how much money I actually spend. My brother, who is an accountant, was amazed when I told him that. He genuinely could not comprehend that I could not be aware of where my money was going. To be truthful it is a little bit silly on my part, I have always lived within my means but if I ever want to retire I may have to be a little more grown up about this.

So I installed an app on my phone called Money Smart. You log all your expenses into categories and you can see where your money is going. I have been doing it for three months now so I can see some patterns.  I decided  that the easiest way to save money was to look at where the biggest chunk of my money goes and stop or cut down on that particular expense.  After a quick review I can see that cutting my biggest expense means  I wont be paying my mortgage or utility bills anymore.

OK, that is probably not going to work so I looked at the next biggest expenditure which turns out to be entertainment and eat out.  Saving money is going to mean I will be cooking at home and catching up on a heap of DVD’s and books in the next three months – I can live with that.

Week Twelve – A logistical Challenge


Stuff Diary Week 13

I confess I bought some stuff, well a stuff. But I have an excuse, or even a reason. I am about to go on a walk for a few days, (you can read about it at Water will not be freely available and what is available will not be treated, so I had to come up with a solution. In the past I have relied on purification tablets, which make your water taste like a swimming pool. Then, a bloke I met while walking last year suggested I get a Lifestraw. This is a clever little piece of kit that filters your water as you drink. What is more Lifestraw commit to providing water to a child in a developing country for one year for each Lifestraw sold. I did think about it and workshop the idea with a few friends one of whom, Matt, has appointed himself as my ‘Consumption Probity Officer’ he confirmed that this purchase could be considered both a safety item and charitable donation and as such he could ‘inform you this ‘donation’ meets our non-procurement of new stuff guidelines’. Given Matts’s love of outdoor gear is even greater than mine I am not he is the best person for the job, but we will have a lot of fun discussion Stuff.

So now I have bought a book and a Lifestraw, however I will be using both the week after next, I didn’t buy them just in case, or because they were cheep, or because they might come in handy. I haven’t bought anything that I don’t have an immediate use for, and that is good except…

Gin. I have been stocking up on Gin, now like Gin and I particularly like all the fancy types you can now buy (at great expense).   But I don’t actually drink that much and I think I am at risk of becoming a collector. I reckon I am buying Gin to sate my buying stuff desires and so it is going to have to stop. I have put a temporary embargo on buying any Gin until I drink all that I already have, at my current rate of consumption verses stock available this will take me pretty much up until Christmas.