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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 47 | volume IX | March-April, 2006



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                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 47March-April, 2006
Prose

Bank Closure

/10
p. 1
Thomas Shapcott

    Everyone saw it coming, but that did not lessen the small shock when the initial phone call came, followed by the formal letter with its proffered regrets and the terminology of rationalisation, which is another word for rationing. Rationing is something Bernard just remembered from the Second World War and after, when he was still a small kid. Rationing meant regulations and queues and going without. Sugar rationing was what he remembered, and the time he was almost scalped by his mother because of the experiment he and Beverley-over-the-road had been doing with home-made lollies. The lollies were a failure, the sugar was wasted – he still remembered his mother scraping crunchy remnants off the kitchen floor and swearing, actually swearing. Beverley was barred from the kitchen.
    He had spent a great deal of his time rationing, if you think of it. Rationing, not rationalising. There was that period in secondary school when he undertook a long regime of rationing the aniseed balls. He cannot remember why, now, aniseed balls so obsessed him, but he collected them in their hundreds. He stored them under his bed in old Vegemite bottles. And he rationed them out to himself, one at a time, no more than three a day. There were only two of his friends who were ever allowed one aniseed ball from his store. They were Bill and Kenneth, and they swapped precious Malay States stamps for them. Even then Bernard was a sort of Banker. When his father took him to the Commonwealth the first time. he was fascinated by the Tellers, doling out coins and paper money.
    Why aniseed balls? That’s too far back even to worry himself with. It was a phase. Like the later decision to ration the number of times a year he allowed himself to go to the pictures. A year. Not a month or a week: even then he had a sense for the breath-span, as it were, of financial accountability.
    Later, it was not really surprising that he rationed the number of hours his own kids were allowed to watch TV. Even last year he had noted – or Jean had drawn it to his attention – that instinctively he had rationed the number of minutes he permitted himself to read the morning newspaper. She had timed him. At five past eight, after the ABC news, until 14 minutes past eight. Bernard scanned the news


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