It seems like only yesterday that I entered the world of home buying: or perhaps I should say strapping myself into a seemingly never ending one-sided relationship with banks, building societies and insurance companies. I remember being so proud that I could afford a deposit that would qualify me for years of indebtedness with institutions that would communicate via computer generated letters for the next 34 years. The strange thing is that mortgages and rents determine how we live: the money we can afford to get us through the next month once we’ve found the cash to pay the tallyman. In February 1978 my late mum left me £3500 in her will. The two of us had lived in a Corby bungalow which had then to be sold to satisfy the financial distribution of cash to my siblings. This was tough. They already had homes and families of their own. I, on the other hand, at the age of 22, had just what I was standing up in; I needed to find somewhere to live. I’d just passed my driving test and had found the girl of my dreams. Those three elements determined the rest of my life. I bought a second hand Triumph Toledo for £500, put £3000 ‘down’ as a deposit for a house in Gretton, and married Madeline the following year. This week I shall be moving home for only the fifth time in my life (twice in Corby and three times in Gretton) except that this time I’ve followed my own advice, that being to ‘downsize’ to a smaller home. This serves one major defining purpose. It will finally rid me of the ‘tallyman’ once and for all as a cheque is sent to them from my solicitor ending my days of being strapped to the whims of a bank. This month I will be giving thanks for my wonderful parents and to my dear late wife Madeline. Merry Christmas to you and your future happiness.