Herbert, Frank (New English Library, ISBN 9780450011849)
Hilary shared an apartment, and thus rent, bills and housekeeping, with Sophie. Like Hilary and me, Sophie supported herself through a mixture of Austudy and various atrocious part-time jobs. After a brief stint working for a telephone sex line, she found her niche as a telephone psychic.
An ineradicable optimism endeared Sophie to you as a friend, but it made her an appalling housemate. It amounted to the faith that when you found yourself without the time or money to do something, you could do it anyway.
At first, we assumed that she just thought fate would provide for her, but her faith proved more profound. As she explained to Hilary one day, Sophie believed in the elasticity of time and money. She’d inflated mere human irresponsibility into a metaphysical scheme in which conscious will could bend time or arithmetic. If you needed money for something, such as your half of the rent, but didn’t have all of it, you could make the portion you had stretch to cover it.
In large part, she put this theory into practice through her chequebook. When the rent fell due and she found that she only had half of it, she would write a cheque for the full amount anyway. She reasoned that she would have a few days before they deposited the cheque and then a few more days before it cleared to get the rest of the money into the account somehow. If possible, she would take the cheque in late on a Friday to buy herself extra time. When a few days later no miracle had enlarged the account balance and the cheque bounced, they would become just one more foxhound in the pack of involuntary creditors who hounded her with debt collectors.