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'I'm reduced to rifling loose change from my son's piggy bank and now waddle with a pocketful of coins'.

Byline: MIKE LOCKLEY

THE future looks bleak after a 'spend, spend, spend!' festive break.

I'm reduced to rifling loose change from my son's piggy bank and now waddle with a pocketful of coins that form a grapefruit-sized bulge in my trousers.

"Have you raided your child's piggy bank, or are you just pleased to see me?" teased the brassy blonde who serves at our petrol station, Mae West style.

Hot with embarrassment, I mumbled I'd raided the piggy bank and pointed out there could be a few stray foreign coins in the handful of shrapnel slammed on her counter.

There was, which she delighted in pointing out - through the Tannoy. Including some with members of the 1990 England World Cup squad on.

"It's that man Paul Gascoigne again," she bellowed down the microphone, rejecting yet another bogus coin, while the growing queue behind me tried to stifle guffaws.

Fifteen minutes it took to pay for that Twix bar. And I only had enough because she 'gave in' over a Jersey 10p.

A medieval knight in full battle armour and chain mail would make less noise than I do as I walk through town, the loose change chinking with each step.

And it's the weight of the stuff! I now try to evenly distribute it between each pocket after developing a pronounced 'list' to the left.

I had to run for a bus the other day and worried shoppers thought a bunch of Chavs were engaging in a sword fight.

And I got stuck in the mud while watching Joe play football on a park pitch - up to my waist.

Luckily, they heard my cries and managed to pull me out before I became totally submerged.

The girls at work now call me the One Arm Bandit Man, which really hurts.

The wife assures me we have got money - it's just tied in bricks and mortar.

"Listen, Julie," I told her, "I had a hell of a job getting the girl at the petrol station to accept a Jersey 10p coin. She's never going to take a brick."

Yet our son seems to be revelling in our financial predicament, however.

"Dad owes me pounds 15, Grandma," he said over Sunday dinner, brandishing the pathetic note I'd scrawled and pushed into his money box. It included a pledge to honour the debt 'when I'm straight'.

"When will you be straight, Dad?" he asked.

"Oh, 20 years - max."

"Oh, Michael," scolded my grey-haired mother. "Fancy plundering your own son's savings. There's got to be a less painful way of getting the odd bob or two."

"There is," I told her, sternly.

"Roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, assorted vegetables and a dessert. That'll be pounds 6 please."

YOU'VE GOTTA LAUGH: I've just realised why Turtle Wax is so expensive. They've got tiny ears.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jan 6, 2008
Words:468
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