ONCE upon a time in a land far away lived a woman who had a magic touch when it came to finding money. From an early age she found the locks on the portals of the money palaces opened at her glance and the guardians smilingly filled her coffers with coins.
When the coffers emptied, as happened frequently, she would open another lock and lo, that guardian would quickly replenish the empty coffer and even give her more coins to fill another coffer.
For many, many years she skipped from money palace to money palace happily paying the forfeit they asked – coins back when she had them plus a little, well a lot, more.
In time she no longer had to magic open the locks for the guardians sent her small plastic cards she could use anywhere and everywhere up to enormous amounts.
Up to and, because of her magic touch, far beyond the original sum.
And the more she used these tokens, the more other guardians came to offer more and more coins and more and more tokens.
How she accepted them all and danced around the globe scattering them to spread their goodness to less fortunate mortals.
There were a few unsettling moments when a stern guardian would call her to his palace and tell her this couldn’t go on.
That always came as a surprise as she was so unused to such hard words from these kindly benefactors and so squeezed tears into her eyes. They couldn’t bear her sorrow and they dried her eyes with the promise of further coins.
And she, in return, promised to “sort herself out” and “learn prudence”, whatever that meant, and off she went to spread her coins further.
One day the nice people who gave her loadsacoins for writing for them said there would be no more. But after a lot of serious money talk they handed her a bag of gold.
The guardians queued up for their share and she felt fresh tears of sorrow paying them all off, knowing that never again would her magic work, and they would never more come to her call.
So she banished herself to a country across the sea and a house in a field where no temptations would ever come knocking.
There she met another guardian; a fierce queen who could not be cajoled by a smile and a promise. This guardian told her the only coins she could take from this palace would be the ones she put in.
(The woman had never been in such a palace before and it frightened her.)
If she used the book of papers called cheques to give more than she had, she would be cast out and could even face the dungeon.
And the plastic keys? The fierce queen laughed in her face.
The woman knew then she had reverted to being a mere mortal and for a long time feverishly counted and re-counted her handful of coins to make sure she used only what she had.
She sorely missed her old guardians on her brief forays into the big towns and could only press her nose against the Max Mara windows – glass between her and the cashmere beige of a mid-calf coat she didn’t need.
Rarely would she return to the land far away, for no longer could she meet her old friends who had the same magic as she once had. She could no longer use the plastic key that bought the bottles that fizzed on opening or pay for the dinners as she always did.
And her pride would not allow her to sit there, a poor relative at the feast. So in time she stopped going and used her coins to buy only the greatest magic of all – books and more books.
And in time too, as her writing brought more coins to the coffer she now fully controlled, she grew to quite like this fiscal life where real grown-ups sat behind the locked doors she could no longer magic open.
Of course there were times she raged and ranted in her empty house as unforeseen problems demanded coins or had to be ignored.
But in general it was a better financial system, she convinced herself.
Then, one day, a big tempete huffed and puffed and blew part of her house down. She phoned the insurance guardians who willingly agreed to pay and sent workmen to look at the damage.
The repair would cost close to €3000 but they would meet it as they had done the last time the big wind came. When a cheque came for almost €1800 for first payment to the workmen who still have not come, the woman was disconcerted for normally she never saw the money.
So she put it in her bank and tried to forget about it.
One day she realised with horror that a demon must have stolen and spent it and so she spends her days avoiding the call that will tell her the workmen are on their way.
And berates herself for reverting to her old magic beliefs that “something will turn up”.
In a real fairytale, of course, something will.