Sounding out Scrooge

It’s time to play ‘Guess the Partner’. In a recent letter to The Times’s agony aunt Bel Mooney, the girlfriend of an unnamed “senior partner” of a City law firm was complaining about how tight-fisted he is.

She wrote: “Dear Bel, I am 55 and since the breakup of my marriage 20 years ago, I have supported my children until they left home and have been responsible for my own finances. I have not been able to provide well for my old age and have limited savings, but apart from a mortgage and small amounts on credit cards I do not owe anyone anything and take pride in paying my way.

“Recently I starting living with a man I now consider my partner in his flat, renting out my own property. I work full time; my property rental income mostly covers the mortgage. I contribute to our joint outgoings, but on an ad hoc arrangement. My partner has his own business and is senior partner in a firm of solicitors. I do not know how much he earns, but am aware that it is very much more than I do.

“The problem is, I think he is tight with money. A new year visit to Cornwall resulted in me paying for my food, accommodation and petrol, although we did have a discussion beforehand and I genuinely thought that my share would be the petrol – in fact, a note was put on the kitchen noticeboard saying £40! I was then asked to pay £200 when his credit card statement arrived and an extremely unpleasant argument followed when I was accused of wanting a ‘meal ticket’. I would welcome your thoughts.”

Bel says: “One of my absolute bêtes noirs is meanness. I detest people who quibble over restaurant bills, and if anybody accused me of wanting a ‘meal ticket’ I would be off cooking in my very own kitchen once more. You dignify him with the name ‘partner’, yet what partnership is this, when you have to guess what the Council Tax is, and he won’t do as you ask and sit down to discuss joint finances, while allowing you to treat him to the theatre? Maybe he was hard-up as a child. Perhaps he was never taught to share toys. Maybe, never married, he’s terrified of commitment – which would be another explanation for his penny-pinching ways.”

Who could it be…?