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Monday, November 26, 2012


I am exhausted. It is barely 10pm and I am already exhausted, despite having done very little save a little washing up and boiling my Christmas puddings (which involves pouring water into the pans at intervals). Hardly taxing.
I don't know when or how this gnawing fatigue came creeping over me, overcoming my every move and thought. The tiredness gets me, makes me forget that I am hungry, causes me to lose things, wheedles tears from me for little or no reason and jump-starts me into fits of stressful anxiety over yet another thing that I have remembered to add to my ever-growing to-do list.
I should jettison the to-do list. I know that. But without it I would forget what I am supposed to be doing, or what I should be doing.
It has been a while since I published to this blog. I doubt people still read it, as there is very little of use or entertainment on it nowadays. Maybe one day. When I have time.
When I have time!
The doctor has diagnosed me with RDD - reactive depression disorder. Caused by stress. Caused by doing too much, by volunteering, by taking extra on myself 'because I can take it'. Because nobody else will. Because I feel guilty saying 'No'. No to friends, no to my mum, no to everyone. It cannot be said. I have been brought up to believe saying 'no' is selfish. It is putting my own needs before others' and that is wrong.
And now as a result of this residual guilt I have broken down, fallen apart, faltered at the first new hurdle, collapsed and feel the weight of everyone's expectation bearing down on me, the would-be Atlas.
So take my few, my paltry words, my sporadic, less-than-entertaining blog posts as they come.
I am exhausted.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Eat your Way to Five Pounds a Day

Jabba loves dat chicken. MMM finger lickin' good.
I have been trying to eat less by eating smaller meals, more regularly. 
However I have been failing. We keep being sent sweets and treats to the office, which means that instead of slowly losing weight, little by little, I am probably gaining the pounds, little by little, until a month before the wedding I suddenly wake up out of my desk-fodder induced stupor and cry: “I am never going to fit into my Pronovia 2013 collection design”.
This is the fault of a desk job, according to workplace health advisers Vielife. A survey conducted among Brits found that 12 million of us suffer from “Nutrition Attrition”.
This means workers have eschewed their five a day in favour of free cake and easy sandwiches, which may be convenient, but it is hardly helping them to work effectively and healthily.
The data showed that more than 40,000 working adults in the UK - based on Vielife online health and wellbeing assessments - show that 36 per cent of working people have poor nutrition, creating personal health risks and losing 3.5 weeks of productive time each a year - an urgent wake-up call for employers and businesses.
Only one out of 10 people said they eat the recommended six portions of fibre per day and less than one in five people manage to eat their five portions of fruit and vegetables.
Actually, I am good like that. I eat a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables. I just like to wash them down with a packet of crisps afterwards.
However, Vielife found that people with a ‘good’ nutrition score have a 6 per cent higher job satisfaction score and 15 per cent higher mood score than people with a ‘poor’ nutrition score.
Stress levels increase for those without a decent diet - perhaps not surprising; but absenteeism increases. Respondents with poor nutrition scores report 50 per cent more sickness absence than those with good nutrition scores. That’s 4.8 days a year per employee against 3.2 days a year, costing the average UK organisation an extra 576 days for every 1000 people employed.
This means productivity declines, costs in cover increases and the whole team suffers as a result of one person’s doughnut disorder.
But if we ate better and cared more for ourselves and our staff, we could not only work better but maybe also play better, take up hobbies, have energy to do other tasks or go to events more often.
What this means for providers is that they should be kind to my waistline and instead of offering the odd lunch or chocolate goodie, they should just hurl a banana in my direction.
What this means for me is that if I want to earn more and to be more productive, eating healthier and fresher means I might lose those 5lbs but I’ll gain £5 a day in additional revenue through freelance or selling more of my handmade jewellery and cards.
This will also help to paying for that dress.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The IEA has lost the plot over pensioners

Let them eat nothing

Does Clegg talk to Steve Webb, ever? Did anyone over the age of 60 vote LibDem? Has Clegg officially lost the plot?

I refer to his comments at today's Lib Dem Conference when this chap, whose parents were hardly malingering in poverty during his comfortable upbringing, said that pensioners should start getting their incomes cut by way of surrendering universal benefits.

Well, that is well and good. Perhaps the most wealthy pensioners don't need a fuel allowance or a free TV licence. But why should these be taken from them? Every winter that comes the fuel bills get higher and higher, and with the effect of inflation eating into people's incomes, and affecting the oldest of the population the most, the fact that everyone can get a fuel dividend or a free TV licence is a pretty nice benefit.

It's one of the virtues of living in a so-called democracy, Clegg, a democracy where there is a decent, if heavily in need of repair, national health service. A democracy whereby rich and poor are treated with respect.

And when you state that it's time to cut from the most wealthy, you end up squeezing those who are on the border lines - who are just about making do, by sheer willpower and the fact they have been prescient enough to save all their lives. Now you want to penalise these for their prudence.

What's more, you will end up opening the floodgates for a whole raft of ill-informed ideas from think-tanks whose staff have all benefited from a middle-class upbringing and education, and whose parents probably live quite well in a finely appointed country home, tending their begonias, waxing their jackets and going on constitutionals with their black Labradors, who all seem to be called Ollie.

I refer to this insane release from the IEA:

"Commenting on Nick Clegg’s call for wealthy pensioners to surrender age-related universal benefits, Mark Littlewood, Director General at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:

“Nick Clegg is right to highlight the unfair nature of universal age-related benefits, but all pensioners should surrender these benefits. Means-testing would be a bureaucratic nightmare and would not make savings for the government.

"The three non-cash benefits to pensioners should be abolished. If the coalition is worried about the poor they should focus on increasing the cash means-tested benefits already in existence. The current system lacks any economic rationale.

“The government has imposed many new burdens on the younger generation, yet older people have remained largely insulated from the cuts. It is time this changed.”

This is patent nonsense. One-quarter of those who are deemed poverty-stricken in this country are pensioners. Many of these do not have family or friends on whom to rely, and their one ray of light is getting a free TV licence so they get some form of human contact.

Why shouldn't the poorest have a fuel payment in winter? Energy companies are raking it in and to suggest that this, along with other benefits, be cut, is simply condemning the poorest people to death. That's right, whoever at the IEA considers that there's no economic rationale to giving a fuel payment, even to the poorest old folk. You talk 'economics'. I talk 'ethics'. We have a responsibility to care for our elderly. Perhaps your parents are well off enough not to miss £75.

Well let me tell you, Mister, without that £75 my mum would not be able to afford the higher central heating bills at Christmas, and would end up freezing. And she's not even on the poverty line. You take that away from the nation's poorest pensioners, and you are signing a death warrant. Smart move, Mr Littlewood, smart move. I bet your pension will come in at more than £9000 a year. That's what my mother lives on. A company pension of £9000 a year and about £1800 from the government. Is that what you hope for in retirement? Is that what you long for? Is this your dream? I think not, Mr Littlewood, I think not.

The third benefit is free travel. Well, not every old person in this country has a car, can drive or is able to drive. How do you think the oldest people get to hospital, to the shops, just outside of their front doors? If your mad idea is ever taken seriously, thousands of the nation's most elderly will end up becoming prisoners in their bleak, cold, TV-less houses until they die.

Perhaps you think old people just want to malinger inside their homes, shivering beneath a WWII grey serge army blanket and looking at a giant photograph sellotaped to the front of a blank TV screen? Perhaps you forgot that the majority of the pensioners that you would push further into Dickensian poverty spent their youth working for, and fighting for, the freedoms that you in your nice, comfortable, middle-class job and higher-than-most retirement will enjoy.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Panel debate: Restoring trust in financial services -

Panel debate: Restoring trust in financial services -

Financial Adviser, one of the papers for which I work, has been instrumental in the launch of this campaign, from a germ of an idea in November last year, through to the official launch earlier this month.

On the way we have had some very high profile support, from the outgoing archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, Rabbi Jonathan Romain, Keith Tondeur OBE - founder of Credit Action - and many big-name companies from the world of finance: NS&I, Legal & General, Vanguard and SCM Private.

But sadly not a single front-bencher of any party decided to get involved. We asked known religious politicians - not a single one wanted to lend their support to the Question of Trust campaign. I guess none of the Treasury, DWP or policy makers in Whitehall think that it is important to restore trust in financial services and to instil values of fidelity, faithfulness and honesty.

That pretty much explains the following: Barclays, HSBC, Northern Rock, Equitable Life, PPI mis-selling... etc etc

ho hum!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Now if only I had thought of this instead of doing my roots...

The wonders of the weather in England at the moment will never cease to amaze me. We are wearing our winter coats, scarves and thick black tights. Those days of wearing strappy sandals and pretty floral dresses have gone. They left in April, when the good weather disappeared.

I've never known a summer like this. Sure, it always rained during Wimbledon, to annoy the players from hotter climates and see if it could put them off their stride, but all through May, June and July, this persistent, cold drizzle has become exceptionally annoying.


1) We have to wear winter clothes
2) We can't go outside and enjoy a walk at lunchtime
3) Weekends are spent running from shelter to shelter
4) BBQ... not on your life. Nobody is having any.
5) Summer skirts and pretty shoes have been relegated to a corner of the wardrobe
6) Apples and orchard fruit have not grown. They are all the size of small plums or have not ripened at all.

Now I am trying to find the positive in all this and there are many.

1) Bewel Water has now become full again after many years of drought
2) Salmon fisheries are happy about their reservoirs being refilled
3) There's no hosepipe ban
4) Women no longer have to worry about keeping their legs shaved or using fake tan.
5) We're becoming more cultured as we are looking for indoor pursuits, including museum and exhibition visits
6) It's an excuse not to do gardening

But in all this it has become a big talking point, binding everyone together this Jubilee year. One PR told me: 'I have taken up running and now my hair just continually looks like I am wearing a frizzy poodle on my head'.

This has given me ideas - pet-themed headgear. And here is my personal favourite, courtesy of the good folk at Icanhascheezburger:

Lolcats: NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA - Cheezburger - BETA


Friday, June 22, 2012

My Milkshake, the Pliny Way

My Milkshake….
ego ventus reputo suus vicis la la la la,
calor es lalala,
pueris es exspectere

Mea crassum coagulatum lactatum qua se e addo totus pueris ut horto,
et they're like,
its melior quam suus,
nil refert, quam vox suus
melior quam vestra

Poseo docui tuam
Sed ego habeo ut tutela
can animadverto vestri in it,
tu volo mihi ut docui techniques
ut freaks illa pueros, nil potest exsis et vendere,
sed teneo, furtificus adepto caught,

ecce! si vestri smart,
la la la la la, calor es supies,
la la la la la,
pueris es exspectere,

Mea crassum coagulatum lactatum qua se e addo totus pueris ut horto
addo perficio totus pueris ut horto
et they're like,
its melior quam suus,
nil refert, vox suus melior quam vestri
Poseo docui tuam,
(c) Simoney Girard

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Prolexic Mitigates Politically Motivated Layer 7 DDoS Attack Against Client of
HOLLYWOOD, FL – (May 16, 2012) – Prolexic, the global leader in Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) protection services, announced today that it mitigated an application layer (Layer 7) attack on behalf of (  This web hosting company based in Scandinavia provides a safe web presence for global, independent news media and human rights organizations that are denied freedom of expression in their home countries.
Unlike more common bandwidth floods aimed at the network (Layer 3) or transportation (Layer 4) layers, application layer (Layer 7) attacks can be structured to overload specific elements of an application server infrastructure.  Even simple attacks – for example those targeting login pages with random user IDs and passwords, or repetitive random “searches” on dynamic web sites – can critically overload CPUs and databases. 
One of’s independent news media clients in Asia recently came under a complex Layer 7 GET flood attack.’s DDoS mitigation team routed the client’s traffic to Prolexic’s 500 Gbps cloud-based mitigation platform.
Prolexic’s Security Operations Center (SOC) quickly determined the type of attack and discovered that it was launched through a large multi-hop proxy network in order to mask the attackers’ source IP address. In minutes, Prolexic mitigated an attack that could have brought the site down for many days or weeks.
“Launching DDoS attacks for politically and ideologically motivated purposes is not new, but is increasing in frequency,” said Neal Quinn, chief operating officer at Prolexic. “This illustrates the ubiquity of DDoS and that targets are no longer limited to high profile commercial web sites.” offers DDoS mitigation services as a core part of its standard and customized packages of web hosting services. As part of an agreement with Prolexic, can leverage resources at Prolexic’s SOC to mitigate large and complex attacks that are beyond the capacity and capabilities of its own network and technicians.
“The collaboration between and Prolexic works extremely well because we can leverage Prolexic’s proven experience in protecting large enterprises against DDoS attacks to give our social justice clients more peace of mind,” said Thomas Hughes, director, Media Frontiers, the parent company of “Our partnership with Prolexic is now a crucial element of our mitigation services, and thanks to Prolexic’s proven expertise, our clients can continue their freedom of expression without disruption, even in an increasingly hostile web environment.”
To learn more, read the full case study at
About Prolexic
Prolexic is the world’s largest, most trusted Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) mitigation provider.  Able to absorb the largest and most complex attacks ever launched, Prolexic restores mission-critical Internet-facing infrastructures for global enterprises and government agencies within minutes. Ten of the world’s largest banks and the leading companies in e-Commerce, SaaS, payment processing, travel/hospitality, gaming and other at-risk industries rely on Prolexic to protect their businesses. Founded in 2003 as the world’s first in- the-cloud DDoS mitigation platform, Prolexic is headquartered in Hollywood, Florida and has scrubbing centers located in the Americas, Europe and Asia.  To learn more about how Prolexic can stop DDoS attacks and protect your business, please visit, follow us on LinkedIn,Facebook and Google+ or follow @Prolexic on Twitter.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Cutest cat ever?

This cat is just so funny - he is really enjoying his liquid catnip treat! Usually cats make that sound when they're fighting, but a lot of cats also mrowwwomnomnomnom when they're excited and eating something really yummy - that's the only time when my cat makes this noise - when he's eating a piece of ham!

So listen in and turn the volume way up for maximum fun effect! And thanks to CuteOverload for the cool link

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Food and Fashion and Fun

I've been trying - not very hard, admittedly - to get my blog up and running to feature all my recipes and crafty stuff.

However I've been extremely lax. Thank goodness therefore for Samantha Downes and her new EllaMag, where she has been kind enough to feature some of my baking recipes and photos.

Please check out her amazing website at and comment on my foodstuff!

Oh, and if you would also please kindly follow OriginalShimmeringDesigns too I promise to start uploading lots of photos of my craft creations and recipes for your delectation!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Crash and Burn

I am trying to lose a little weight before my friend's wedding in May. I don't need to lose a lot, but enough so that I can laugh and speak while wearing the bridesmaid's dress.

I say this because the dress was so very snug in the first fitting and I have put on a little since then and I actually got asked the other day if I would like a seat on the train.

This is flattering in some ways - it means that I am pretty skinny except on my boobs and belly, so I look pregnant rather than fat. However it is depressing for someone who knows that a few sit ups each day wouldn't be so bad, but for whom the very thought of any form of physical exercise has sent shudders down the spine.

It's not that I don't want to exercise... I do. I love swimming but have been unable to do so thanks to prolonged labyrinthitis. I've had David Bowie chasing me on Esher staircases for weeks now, while small dwarves chant: 'you remind me of a man' while I sleep. It's most distracting.

But the last time I got into proper gym routines I lost far too much weight and ended up dangerously close to snapping in the breeze.

Is there anything apart from jogging/weights that would help me tone up without dropping weight? My metabolism is crazy and will go overboard if I try something too strenuous.

Tips would be greatly appreciated!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

It's not Friday but the Budget has stolen a day from me.

It's not Friday, but the Budget has stolen a day from me. And caused me to repeat the headline of my blog post as my first line.

It's a cheap subbing trick that the sub editor's desk uses when they can't be bothered to think of a standfirst.

But that has nothing to do with chancellor George Osborne and his "Budget that rewards work"; his stern admonition to those wealthy who seek to avoid paying stamp duty on their big houses, "you have been warned" and various Despatches-box banging to emphasise his point that "Wallace and Gromit must stay in Britain".

 What happened yesterday was basically a later Budget (he usually stands to deliver at 12 noon on the dot) and 59 minutes (with some interruptions from a rather boisterous House of Commons) later, we had to scurry into meetings/to our desks to knock out the stories. In all we did 20 stories for the paper AND 10 stories for the web - from a team of just five journalists (I wasn't writing).

With all that copy editing, and with various hiccups on the way - from the machine at Marks & Spencer not working at 7:30 in the morning (the time I used to get up, last week, before the Budget planning wrecked my sleeping pattern) through to one of the Panelists being struck with a mystery bug and another forgetting to write their blog and various other minor irritations, I was completely copy blind by 5pm. I literally could not see to look at the screen nor even to look at the printed word. Which for a journalist whose job involves writing and reading copy, this is not a good thing.

Thankfully the Santander press office took pity on our poor team and treated us to Benihana's  in the evening - the food and the entertaining and slightly sexually disturbing chef almost banished thoughts of the boy-faced Osborne and his desk-thumpery.

However, it did not quite help.

This morning I was convinced that it was Friday. I sent out a twitter #FF to a bunch of people, most of whom said thank you; one was then convinced it was Friday and got worried that she'd missed a day of work.

I also started telling people I would see them tomorrow (thinking it was Saturday) when it blatantly wasn't and if my jeggings had not been hanging out to dry, I would have worn those to work forgetting that it is Thursday and I have three damn meetings.

Finally, I decided to go for my Friday morning ritual - a Cumberland sausage sandwich on brown bread at the Little Dorrit Cafe. Argle. Now I have to have one tomorrow as well ....

The only reason I can think is that on Wednesday, we did twice the amount of work that we would usually do on a press day and went out and almost died as a result. I think I also dreamt about work, which would add to my time-space-continuum confusion.

So thank you, George, for ruining my week, for stealing more money from female pensioners and seeking to shoo away all the wealthy people from the UK and send them scurrying to the Canton of Uri.

I am sure I am grateful. But you now owe me more than the £171 that the BBC's Budget calculator promises that I will be better off by as a result of Osborne's "working Budget."

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Looking forward to penury

You know it is a bad time for pensions when even the Metro carries a story about the depletion of our pension savings.
Metro, by the way, is usually the one paper I strive to avoid in the morning, given that it usually only contains terribly depressing stories about children kicking ponies in the head or grandmothers sleeping with their progeny’s boyfriends - hardly the encouraging kind of get-to material one should read when going to work.
It’s so bleak sometimes I want to give up before I even get to the office.
But today, I wanted to get to the office to check my own pension savings. I’m afraid I’m one of those who have several small DC pots and one or two deferred DB pots left untouched. I intend to leave those DB pots untouched but to merge the three DC ones into my current scheme in the clutch-at-straws hope that by the sheer power of accumulated force, any incremental rise in interest rates/performance of the funds might be accelerated by having that additional £5k.
When I read that DB liabilities jumped £133bn in February alone, however, the safety of my old DB pots also looks miserable. And to think I dared to sign up for a company pension the very day I joined my first employer, Reed Elsevier Butterworths Tolley Et Al (as it was then, more or less) way back in 1999.
Was I really wrong? Jeff Prestridge, our esteemed columnist, has for many years extolled the virtues of Isas to augment - and perhaps even replace - traditional pension pots. I have an Isa too, of course - 10 per cent of salary to pension/Isa, 10 per cent to charity, the rest on the mortgage and the darn cat. That’s what I always believed.
But even with the wondrous Broughy of Schroders boosting my long-term Isa savings and cash, well, doing bleep all, I’m not exactly going to roll in the lap of luxury with this little bunch.
Now it seems with an estimated shortfall of 40 per cent I need to boost my own savings considerably. Perhaps even make it 25 per cent, 30 per cent of my monthly income. On my salary and with my bills, mortgage and travel expenses, that seems barely reasonable.
I’m pretty boring - I don’t drink, I don’t go out clubbing and my taste in clothes is so avant-garde that I pretty much hate, loathe and detest clothes shopping. But even if I squeeze a few more pence out of my salary, will any of it make any difference in the long-run?
We might not even have pensions by the time I come to retire which, it seems, will be a few weeks before I die - at least I won’t have to worry about long-term care costs, as I will be in my grave.
The only sniff of help might be from the fact that I have a property, although I am getting worried about my windows, my ceiling, rising crime (not in my property, although that could be a way out of my personal pensions crisis .... perhaps granny-crims will be on the rise... ) and a million other things to worry about, not least the fact the leaseholder of the flats has gone awol, just when I wanted to buy back some years on my lease.
I’ve forgotten my thread. Oh yes, so basically my Isa savings are pitiable, my pensions are pitiful and my retirement prospects are the pits. Well this is cheery.
I should never have read the paper this morning. Next time I board the 8:50 to London Bridge I’m going to get a copy of the Metro and shove it up, well, maybe I’ll be too depressed to do any shoving. Perhaps I’ll start collecting them and store it as fuel for when I’m 75.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Nobody understands me

Apparently I do not speak or write English and therefore people who do speak and write English cannot understand me.

I say this because quite evidently, I can do both fluently. However, it seems that nobody gets what I'm saying, so I must either assume they do not listen, they do not understand because they haven't grasped the meaning of my words and so take it upon themselves to do what they think I meant, or that they are being deliberately obtuse.

What has prompted this outburst?

Well several things. First of all, I put a job advert in for a 'literate reporter' to work across features and news on our weekly financial newspaper.

Out of the 60-plus entries I received, about five came through with no spelling or grammatical mistakes on them.

Many of the applicants had proudly informed me they were 'fluent' in English, only to assure me of the complete opposite through their appalling spelling, lack of syntax and complete fabrication of vocabulary. 'Journalisticism' is not a word, nor is our paper called XXXX 'Advertiser' (although we do carry a lot of adverts, so perhaps you were just being a smart Alec. In any case, you went into my 'idiot' pile').

One man went to great lengths to tell me how much he wanted this job, his dream job, because he loved Formula 1.

I don't know how he got from IFA to 'Bernie Ecclestone' but he also went onto my 'idiot pile'.

When I have a free moment, each of these idiots will receive a letter from me explaining why I dismissed their application instantly and suggesting that, if they wish to get a job in journalism ('journalisticism') then they either learn how to spell or use a spell checker.

Because I am the human spell-check, sweethearts.

So, either 55 of these applicants were being deliberately obtuse, failed to understand my meaning or just didn't read the job description properly, or I was not writing in English. So many people cannot be wrong... can they?

The second thing to tick me off is the lack of understanding that people have when I speak on the phone. Admittedly you now only have my word for it but I can at times, and helped by gin, sound extremely posh. Sort of like a sardonic Lady Thatcher but without the apparent insanity.

So when I speak on the phone, I am offended all the time when people whose verbal skills are only slightly better than that of a Macaw keep asking me to repeat things because they 'don't understand my accent'.

This really gets to me. How many 't's must I overemphasise on words until you catch my drift? Why should I have to say 'ow-ah' instead of 'hour' or 'Stre-am' instead of 'Streatham'?

However, I am evidently not speaking English. (I am, just in case you didn't already pick up the gist of this post).

The third thing that frustrates me is when I email things so carefully, using short words and short sentences, and people ask me to explain it all verbally.

My temptation in this matter is to just read my email to them, pointing at each word in turn and enunciating v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y the various syllables just in case the vocabulary was too much for them.

This does not go down well with colleagues. Or my mother, who put the phone down on me, but that was probably fair enough.

I don't mind people asking me to explain things, or to clarify things. But when they have an email in front of them and ask me: 'What did you want me to do with this?' the logical conclusions to draw are either that I have been writing in ancient Sanskrit or they just haven't bothered to read the email properly.

All these things, and so many, many more things - oh, another example: Facebook posts where people instantly jump down my throat thinking I've declared allegiance to one flag when it is clear to all the other 30 commentators that I had categorically not declared any such thing - make me sad.

What has happened to communication? What has happened to the beauty of the written word, where once upon a time, great novelists luxuriated in finding the mot juste or, if they couldn't, they just stuck a French phrase in, like wot I just did, and pretended they were educated.

Alas! Text speak and 140-character Twitter feeds have killed the radio, television and newspaper star.


Wednesday, January 04, 2012

No cash please, we're mates!

Your friends will be borrowing £1 coins off you: beware
As we start 2012 with a whimper, carefully nursing our battered wallets back to financial health by not spending on anything except reduced lines baked beans and bread, let us not forget those whose friends are responsible for their penury.

Yes, friends. I'm not talking about lending money to friends - although I would no longer advocate this as you never know what situations may happen to prevent your friends from repaying you in full, in the time you needed. It can affect the dynamics of a relationship or, like Charlie Sheen's character Charlie in an earlier-than-Ashton series of Two and A Half Men, mean you get stung in an elaborate plot that involves you sleeping with your step-sister-in-law-to-be, lending her $50,000 and buying a Ferrari you didn't want.

What I am talking about is the Cash Converter friend. The friend who turns to another for all their coinage and notage needs. The friend who gets the bus with you and has not got £2 for the fare. The friend who does not have anything smaller than a £20 when it comes to paying tips. The mate who suggests getting a taxi but somehow does not carry anywhere near enough money to foot the bill.

According to a Capital One survey, Brits have been forking out £562 million a year as a result of ‘subbing’ friends.

More than 43 say they never receive a penny of this borrowed money back.

Now you have been warned. Next time you go out with friends, ask them to make sure they have some cash. Or don't carry any yourself and make sure you recoup your 2011 losses in 2012!

Capital One asked respondents which items they had paid for on behalf of others who did not have cash in the past three months:
Drinks in cash-only bars/restaurants
Items bought in cash-only stores e.g. markets
Tips in bars and restaurants
Taxi fares
Charity donations and fundraisers
Items purchased with cash due to a minimum card spend
Tolls and one-off/unexpected charges