He owed this small triumph (of completing the first draft of his book) to Nelly, who had said ‘It’s what you need. No distractions and you won’t have to worry about kennels.’*
This evidence of concern had moved Tom. At the same time he thought, she wants the money (rent). The web of their relations was shot through with these ambivalences, shade and bright twined with such cunning that their pattern never settled.
*Nelly was offering him her cottage in the bush to write in.
The Lost Dog by Michelle De Kretser.
It’s true. People are not comfortable around the subject of money. There mere whiff of it can change the colour of a relationship.
When reading the above passage I was reminded of my dealings with my neighbour. She approached me the first time about money after her husband died. She wanted to borrow A$50 to send to her father, then soon to turn 100, in Greece.
Since then she has asked to borrow it numerous times. In exchange she cleans my house. This was at my suggestion. She does a meticulous job and I always say, just do the bathroom and floors. Once she even left a bunch of flowers in a vase (which had been gathered from plants growing on nearby public property).
Over the last summer break I was watching a DVD in the afternoon with my teenage son. She turned up proffering a packet of biscuits and asked to borrow $50 again. I was really put out that she had interrupted our reverie and told her it was the last time. When she departed my son quipped, it’s an expensive packet of biscuits.
I have since heard that she owes another neighbour $1000. Think I will clean my own house from now on.