Say what you want about Scrooge, he certainly had a nice way with words. Christmas day. A fine excuse to pick a man’s pocket every 25th December… Die? They had better do so and so reduce the surplus population… And so my affections have always gone out to him. Especially in this time of rife profligacy when the benefits of frugality are being reassessed. They call it saving the planet, but they will only do it when it is couched in those terms. I noted a worrying instinct in myself the other day. I was buying some trifle or other and it cost £3 and I paid for it without the slightest of winces. My instinctive reaction was: it’s ony three of those minor monetary units. Hardly anything at all. Do not let it register on my inner abacus. You can see this is the thin edge of a very dangerous wedge. The pound sterling as a negligeable unit. I remember when the French franc shifted into the Euro in the year 2000. People continued to talk and count in Francs for years. Some people still do. At the time of the Franc some people spoke in old francs from decades before. The day you transitioned from one currency to the other was the day your inner abacus ceased to work its checks and balances, the day its mechanism got unbalanced and couldn’t give you instinctive winces on key figures. A dangerous day. Relaxing about money is the renounciation of a key set of values about the world. If you do not wince if you are paying £3 for anything you are going wrong somewhere. Scrooge was right.