“And your money will look after you,” everyone choruses dutifully.
“And that brings us to the end of the show,” says Emma. “Join us tomorrow, when we’ll be making over a trio of teachers from Teddington…”
“… talking to the man who became a circus performer at sixty-five…” says Rory.
“… and giving away £5,000 in ‘Go On — Have a Guess!’ Good-bye!”
There’s a frozen pause — then everyone relaxes as the signature music starts blaring out of the loudspeakers.
“So — Becky — are you going to New York or something?” says Rory.
“Yes,” I say, beaming back at him. “For two weeks!”
“How nice!” says Emma. “What brought this on?”
“Oh, I don’t know…” I shrug vaguely. “Just a sudden whim.”
I’m not telling anyone at Morning Coffee yet about moving to New York. It was Luke’s advice, actually. Just in case.
“Becky, I wanted a quick word,” says Zelda, one of the assistant producers, bustling onto the set with some papers in her hand. “Your new contract is ready to be signed, but I’ll need to go through it with you. There’s a new clause about representing the image of the station.” She lowers her voice. “After all that business with Professor Jamie.”
“Oh right,” I say, and pull a sympathetic face. Professor Jamie is the education expert on Morning Coffee. Or at least he was, until The Daily World ran an exposé on him last month in their series “Are They What They Seem?” revealing that he isn’t a real professor at all. In fact, he hasn’t even got a degree, except the fake one he bought from the “University of Oxbridge.” All the tabloids picked up the story, and kept showing photographs of him in the dunce’s hat he wore for last year’s telethon. I felt really sorry for him, actually, because he used to give good advice.
And I was a bit surprised at The Daily World being so vicious. I’ve actually written for The Daily World myself, once or twice, and I’d always thought they were quite reasonable, for a tabloid.
“It won’t take five minutes,” says Zelda. “We could go into my office—”
“Well…” I say, and hesitate. Because I don’t really want to sign anything at the moment. Not if I’m planning to switch jobs. “I’m in a bit of a hurry, actually.” Which is true, because I’ve got to get to Luke’s office by twelve, and then start getting my stuff ready for New York. (Ha! Ha-ha!) “Can it wait till I come back?”
“OK,” says Zelda. “No problem.” She puts the contract back in its brown envelope and grins at me. “Have a great time. Hey, you know, you must do some shopping while you’re there.”
“Shopping?” I say, as though it hadn’t occurred to me. “Yes, I suppose I could.”
“Ooh yes!” says Emma. “You can’t go to New York without shopping! Although I suppose Becky would tell us we should put our money into a savings plan instead.”
She laughs merrily and Zelda joins in. And I smile back, feeling a bit uncomfortable. Somehow, all the people at Morning Coffee have got the idea I’m incredibly organized with my money — and, without quite meaning to, I’ve gone along with it. Still, I don’t suppose it really matters.
“A savings plan is a good idea, of course…” I hear myself saying. “But as I always say, there’s no harm going shopping once in a while as long as you stick to a budget.”
“Is that what you’re going to do, then?” asks Emma interestedly. “Give yourself a budget?”
“Oh, absolutely,” I say wisely. “It’s the only way.”
Which is completely true. I mean, obviously I’m planning to give myself a New York shopping budget. I’ll set realistic limits and I’ll stick to them. It’s really very simple.
Although what I’ll do is make the limits fairly broad and flexible. Because it’s always a good idea to allow some extra leeway for emergencies or one-offs.
“You’re so virtuous!” says Emma, shaking her head. “Still — that’s why you’re the financial expert and I’m not…” Emma looks up as the sandwich man approaches us with a tray of sandwiches. “Ooh lovely, I’m starving! I’ll have… bacon and avocado.”
“And I’ll have tuna and sweet corn,” says Zelda. “What do you want, Becky?”
“Pastrami on rye,” I say casually. “Hold the mayo.”