Blog: Live Below The Line

For reasons i’ve almost forgotten, i’ve decided to take part in the Live Below The Line campaign, to highlight the plight of the millions of people worldwide who are living on the equivalent of £1 a day. I will have to live on £5 for five days and I am raising the cash for St Mungos. Sponsor me here!

I will hopefully never experience what it feels like to be really, truly hungry, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to raise some money and to appreciate what it’s like to not know where your next meal will come from.

DAY ONE

9.23am – I’ve taken the decision to eat only when i’m hungry, so I am yet to have breakfast. I feel fine so far as I wouldn’t usually eat until I get to my desk anyway. I’ve done no preparation so i’m going to have to go to Tescos before I get in to work.

10.14am – So I settle on Tescos own brand value wheat bisks (50p). I regret the purchase immediately as I remember someone telling me the best thing I can get for my dollar is oats. Oh well, too late now. I also buy an apple from a vendor for 15p. Two wheat bisks washed down with warm water (nearly regurgitated, not that it would make any difference to the consistency): I am wholely unsatisfied.

11.34am – Having checked the rules, I can’t receive food donations from kind colleagues, but I can eat food purchased before I began the fast as long as I toll up the price, so I decide to have a plain Ryvita (4p) from my draw, with a splodge of Encona Hot Pepper Sauce (2p).

12.56pm – I pop back to Tesco to get some supplies and settle for baked beans (30p), kidney beans (18p), passata (29p), sweetcorn (32p) and two packs of the noodles I even refused to eat at uni (10p each). This is all the cheapest option available for the size and is designed to last me at least two more days. I am still not hungry so am holding out for lunch. All I can think of is breaded pork and…oh my god…someone’s gone and got a takeaway in the office…

1.12pm – Just realised I can’t actually concentrate on any work and i’m definitely feeling a pang, so my body is telling me to eat.

1.36pm – Halfway through my Tesco value chicken noodles. Which are, incidentally, disgusting. 7.7gs of saturated fat and 385 calories. All for 10p! No wonder there’s an obesity problem in this country. Not full. WANT A NANDOS.

1.49pm – Had to eat my apple to wash down the revolting noodles. Ate the core.

2.06pm – Regretting spending 10p on another packet of noodles. Can’t cope with the calorie intact to satisfation ratio. Pathetic. Have decided to sell them to a colleague. Is this cheating?

3.20pm – Having my only tea of the day. I figure that’s less than 10p and seeing as i’m not eating the other noodles…

4.47pm – One dry Ryvita. Still better than the noodles.

5.09pm – Sister just called to say she was eating a packet of Monster Munch in my honour, because they’re my favourite.

6.16pm – Bought wholemilk to water down (48p) and a banana for breakfast (9p). Got a refund on the yuk noodles (10p). GET IN.

19.47pm – Having nearly murdered a woman on the bus for her KFC, I am feeling pretty smug about my 40p dinner AND i’ve saved half for tomorrow’s lunch. I feel I might be cheating though, as i’ve decided to buy measures off my housemates rather than buy packets of lentils outright. I actually feel full!

Dinner consisted of lentil-kidney bean-passata-rice gloop:

Lentils 10p
Rice 12p
Kidney beans 17p
Seasoning 1p

DAY TWO

9.43am – Today is going a lot better. I have just had a hearty breakfast of two wheat bisks with milk (wholemilk watered down to make it go further) and a banana. I don’t feel sad like yesterday morning. This has to be a result. I AM WINNING.

SOME QUESTIONS:

I am wondering…

A) Can friends sell me food?
B) Is using my wiley ways allowed? Can I try and get a free dinner for showing my boobs?
C) Can I have a cup of tea with a used tea bag?

10.32am – A cup of tea (PG Tips tea bags from 5 kilo bag I have estimated as costing 2p). Lesson for today: I don’t have to suffer!

12.17pm – Having about 4 tablespoons of my lentil-rice gunk. I reckon little and often is the key, and always eat when you’re hungry.

12.19pm – Some bastard has stolen milk from me! Everyone at work knows i’m doing this and I have written a note stating that if you steal from me you are stealing from the needy, so this is the WORST kind of milk theft. In this case, re-theft is the only option.

2.11pm – Over my second cup of tea (2p), I had a discussion with a colleague about how shit it is to feel hungry. I literally could not take my eyes off the KFC the woman on the bus last night was inhaling. I couldn’t live like that! I also mentioned how I am feeling really good about the fact that I have not cheated once (I cheat at EVERYTHING; I fully expected to be secretly eating crisps in the toilet by now) and have accounted for all I have eaten, down to the seasoning.

3.02 – More rice gloop. Getting really bored of it now. Really want a Twix.

5.08pm – I may be overreacting due to feeling weak but I think there are ketones on my breath. I also have a headache. I am not hungry so can’t face the rest of my lentil lunch, even though I know I should eat it.

6.56pm – Bought one baking potato and two bananas for 50p. Think the vendor felt sorry for me.

8.28pm – One plain jacket potato. Looking pretty beige next to my friend’s chickpea and feta salad.

DAY THREE (AKA The Burrito Adventure)

9.48am – One banana, a cup of tea and two wheat bisks with milk. I am so fed up of beige food! I am craving some flavour, I think I dreamt of feta cheese last night. I also now have a perpetual stomach ache and hunger pangs. I am getting used to never feeling full. I never feel satisfied and eating has become simply another necessary chore. My calorie intake is definitely too low. I just laid out a cake for my workmates left over from a hen-do that I am not able to eat! I licked some icing off my finger and it nearly drove me wild.

10.41am – I have just been told that Chilango is opening a new store in Chancery Lane, and today from 12pm-8pm they are giving out free burritos! Am I able to cash in on this? If I was homeless i’d be able to just walk in and get one.

2.05pm – Having decided it’s legit because a homeless person would definitely get one, I have just returned from Chancery Lane where I went for my FREE burrito. I didn’t get one. The queue is an hour/200 metres long and I had to go back to work in Elephant and Castle. This has made me all the more determined to get my freeness, so i’m going to return after work. In the mean time I am going to buy a piece of bread from the canteen (17p) and open the beans.

2.07pm – ALSO, i’m going to see Death From Above 1979 tonight and am considering my position on minesweeping. Under the rules of Live Below, I mean. Obviously minesweeping is wrong* (*awesome).

7.16pm – I head back to Chilango. The queue is long but I have faith it will go down quickly as it’s the end of the day. However the minute I join the back they close the queue! In front of me. I could cry! So, being hungry, weary and desperate…I beg. “Please PLEASE let me in, you have no idea how hungry I am…” Etc. Somewhere in my rambling I manage to get the point of this whole campaign across and I am in! It was my ‘puppy dog eyes’, apparently.

As the queue reaches the restaurant, I hear rumours that they are running out of food. “You’ll get something but if there’s no ingredients in the burrito, don’t come crying to me!” one member of Chilango tells me. I discuss the £1 diet with more of the staff and finally, clearly seeing how miserable I am, Libby runs to the kitchen to prepare me some food so I no longer have to endure the torture of waiting. I hug her and exclaim “you beautiful woman!” Thanks Chilango!

Molotov Jukebox playing outside Chilango

DAY FOUR

10.11am – One banana, two wheat…you know the drill.

12.33pm – Really VERY tempted to blow my last £1.41 on sweets and cheap cider. I can live on that for two days, right?

1.47pm – Lunch has been a win mete with a failure. I got two apples from a vendor for 20p by asking for one free (being a young woman of passable attractiveness was enough!) but bought a bagel for 35p. The cheap bread I ate yesterday was very sad so I treated myself, but I didn’t even get the offer of 5 for a pound, so now I feel frivolous! Had half a bagel with a tin of beans and am saving the half tin from yesterday with the other half of the bagel for dinner.

11.58pm – Behold this picture of me eating a 36p reduced sandwich from Tesco, outside the dim sum restaurant my friends are eating in! Now is that dedication to the cause or what? Can I please get a round of applause? I had tap water all night and no alcoholic drinks! OK I filched two prawn crackers, so shoot me.

12.37am – I have just been down to the Sainsbury’s bins next to my house in my PJs and marigolds to attempt some skipping! All in the name of good journalism, of course. Unfortunately I chose the day the store has closed for renovation and all that I would have salvaged is aprons and packing cardboard. The food must be underneath! I am a failed freegan.

DAY FIVE

I did it! Well I got to 6pm before I cracked open the guacamole, but I was doing it until sundown (Saturday) so I WIN. I am really pleased I did it. And I absolutely didn’t cheat, which makes me really happy.

Celebration: West Indian feast of jerk chicken, rice and peas, fried plantain, saltfish and coleslaw, washed down with lots of beer.

Don’t forget to sponsor me!

Money spent: £5(ish)!!!!!

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