The Debt Quilt

James Meek

Rebecca Simmonds spread her debt duvet out over the sofa in the rented one-room flat in East London she shares with her partner, Aaron. The first panel in the quilt is a letter from the Alliance & Leicester bank, dated February 2005. Simmonds was 25. She had no assets and no steady job (she was trying to become an actor) and the bank was, the letter says, ‘very pleased’ to be lending her £5000. Simmonds can’t remember the annual interest rate or the term but a scrawled note on the letter suggests that at one point she owed the entire amount of the loan plus 46 per cent. ‘I think I had some debt before that – quite small, a couple of thousand,’ she told me. ‘I thought I’d get this debt to pay off that one and I ended up spending it on something else.’

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