You find out who your friends are when you’re skinny. One of mine asked me to be his domina | Liz

II’ve had a disaster since my last column. I was returning from work one evening in December when a car veered onto my side of the road on a curve. I went off the road straight into a tree. Luckily, I was only going about 10 mph and, even though my little Kia was a write-off, I was physically OK. If I had driven faster I would have gone over the edge with a 20 foot drop on the other side.

No car means no work. I had to raise £750 to get myself a new motorbike. The only reason I managed it was because I had just taken out a £600 social fund budget loan from the government, which is available to me because I am on Employment and Support Allowance. That £600 will get me through Christmas – ask anyone who’s struggling financially and they’ll tell you how hard it is at that time of year, and it’s a lot harder as a single parent like me. In the end, £66 from the Energy Bill Support Scheme allowed me to save enough scraps to buy presents for the children. The cars reappeared. My son got a remote control car. I gave my daughter a £50 New Look voucher to get herself some new clothes.

However, I was appalled when I went to collect my energy grant. While people who are billed for electricity (generally, people who are better off) automatically get £66 a month, those of us who use pre-paid meters have to apply for it. It was not well promoted either, so a bunch of poorer people did not register at the meters, and it remains unclaimed. Those of us on overpaid meters usually also pay for electricity at a higher rate. The government has again set things up in favor of people who are better off.

When you’re down, you can see who your real friends are. A few weeks ago I shared with others how difficult things were for me and the kids. It’s the first time I’ve gone public about it. I didn’t ask for anything or expect anything, but the response was amazing. Before I knew it, there were packages left on my doorstep. Bernadette, the mum of one of my daughter’s friends who works for the NHS, sent lots of stuff – sweets, chocolate, crisps, slices of meat, sauces, Dreamies for the cat. I was so touched.

When you’re struggling, it’s also when you see that some friends aren’t quite as true as you thought. Take Danny, who I’ve been friends with for years. Recently he said he wanted to ask me something, but he was embarrassed about it. I told him we were close enough for him to ask me anything. He mumbled something about wanting me to do something for him, and that there would be money in it for me to help the kids. The next thing I knew he sent me a photo of his bare ass, with an angry red whip cut across it. Yes, that’s right, he wanted me to be his dominatrix.

I was offended on three fronts. First, Danny knew so little about me that he thought I would do it. Second, to take advantage of my situation to ask me. Third, his bare face when he sent me a photo of said ass. I told him that I thought that would be crossing the line and it was a line I didn’t want to cross with him, or anyone else. In fact, I ended up telling him to get lost. So it looks like my friend Danny is now my ex. Meanwhile, Bernadette, whom I barely knew, proved to be a true friend.

  • As told to Simon Huttenston. Liz is 40 years old and lives in the South West of England. Names have been changed

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