I'm reeling in the poker a little. It's possible to play too much, to be so affected and tugged by the nuance and dynamic of each hand that you lose sight of the game itself - losing a tournament, once a shrug and a drink away from forgetting, becomes an episode of burning unfairness the emotional memory of which cannot be purged for hours. Winning is little better: rather than celebrate, one ends up berating oneself for not doing better, winning more, finishing higher.
It's a trap familiar to poker players and adaptive perfectionists (there's a Venn diagram for you) - a trap escaped only by stepping back. I didn't, and have no bankroll left through late-night tilting in ring games. But there you go. Fortunately I am cognisant of my own tendencies and took the precaution of only ever depositing small, affordable amounts - it's budgeted for, so I haven't lost anything. A couple of quid a month for hours of entertainment - and the possibility of winning more back - is affordable.
I am all about affordable. My mother was recently appalled to hear that I didn't have any spare cash: I tried to explain that I have enough food in the cupboard to last to the next paycheque, that all my bills are paid and I am breaking even, but this is an alien concept to most people - having enough money to get by is seen as a failure, as not enough at all, and it's because of this we have a credit crunch and a housing crash and all the rest of it. People don't know what enough is.
I am not suffering as others might. I have no pension, having always felt that it's a lot of money for little return (none, if you don't earn enough to buy an annuity, and you can't get the money back) and too dependent on other people's successes. I have no car, and require no petrol. I have no mortgage. I have credit card debts, of course, and the interest rates for these continue to increase entirely out of kilter with national interest rates - but what else is new? They did before the crunch, and will continue to do so forever, at least until the banks can find another scapegoat.
At the moment I can feed myself, pay my rent and not default on anything. This is enough. I don't take holidays abroad, because that isn't a necessity: nor are plasma TVs and anti-ageing cream. Nice to have, but not needed. This slowdown will be hard for me, but I know I can survive it because I've been in my own personal economic slowdown for years: and if food prices come down as they tend to during a recession I could be slightly better off.
Having no disposable income has taught me a thing or two about what's really important. It'll be interesting to see if society can learn these things in the coming years.