If the world worked on a barter system, how would you fare? Would you have services to barter? Would you be successful, or would you struggle?
Once upon a time I might have survived on bartering. I mean, all those useful housewifely skills you pick up when your kids insist on eating and your husband whistles tunelessly when there’s dust on the mantelpiece.
These days? I’d be cactus.
I am far, far too selfish to do for other people those things I avoid doing for myself wherever possible (or sometimes impossible but what the hell, fasting is all the rage). I have no tradeable skills, no intention of acquiring them anytime soon, and late ran out a long time ago.
I am old, my friends, old – give or take depending on the mood of the day. In earlier times, I would by now be sitting in my rocking chair under the roof of one of my children, making life hell for them, their spouses and their offspring – provided they hadn’t managed to pop me in the madhouse – and demanding they swap the cat for my favourite icecream.
But as things stand, what have I got to offer? Mind you, since that’s a question I’ve been asking myself in one form or another most of my life (and I’m sure I’m not alone), I know for a fact that answers are pretty thin on the ground. My sister insists that reeling off doggerel verse to order is a skill not given to all, but even if it were true (which I doubt), where’s the value in that? It’s a rare butcher who’d give you a pound of sausages for a limerick or two.
There once was a starving old bat
Who had nothing to barter. She sat
And concocted a verse,
But the butcher was terse
And unmoved. And for her, that was that.