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I set up this donations page on July 15, 2003, what I wrote in my journal that day is below. It was a time when I had very little money, so I decided I may as well make it possible for people to give donations to support the site. Now and again someone does, which is nice of them. I go through cycles with money, preferring to get on with my own thing rather than take the sensible approach of getting a regular job.
On having no money
JULY 15 03
“If I had all the money I spent on drink… I'd spend it on drink.”
– Sir Henry at Rawlinson End
Sometimes I don't have a lot of money. There's a saying in poker: 'Money's just a way of keeping score.' But I am reminded every so often of how pleasant it can be to have little to spend. Usually when it's forced upon me, admittedly, but even so.
Well anyway, to span one side of a period of no money to the other side of a period of no money, I firstly gather up small change I've put in jars every time I come in, that just weighs down the pockets. I looked around and saw I had a few potatoes and an onion. Potato curry, I thought. But no rice. £1.95 for rice, well you have to buy an economical 2kg bag don't you? So out to the shops with twenty 10p pieces. I hand them over, apologise nicely for there being so many. I'm owed 5p. So I wait, not because I particularly want it, I've got a jar full of them at home still, but simply because it's the done thing. She seems to have forgotten, and someone then engages her in conversation. When she notices me she remembers, and gives me my change: £1. It's the shop assistant who has overcharged me in the past, when I've not been bothered, so I just think she's catching up and destiny is giving me a helping hand. So I waste it on an ice-cream. It's bloody hot.
It's so hot, when I get back with the big bag of rice I just don't feel like potato curry. So I go in the garden with half an inkling to forage. Three tomatoes are red. There's oregano, there's mint, there's chives, potato salad with the onion springs to mind. Much better idea.
And as I'm eating I think this is the best meal I've eaten for ages, and this is the most relaxed day I've had for quite a while. The most I've taxed my mind on is snipping the chives. Don't want to cut off the young growing shoots, each chive must be individually cut with a small pair of scissors.
What I really don't like about no-money periods is not having any tea and soya milk. But then that's when you find your taste again for jasmine tea and discover a packet of it that's been in the cupboard for a long time. I'm just sipping some very hot right now out of a little Japanese chado cup ('tea way', Dao of Tea). I don't regard having no money as in any way demeaning, that's for other people to make those sorts of judgments, although of course I'm acutely aware 'society' looks down on people without money, particularly people like me who have no excuse beyond a lifetime of laziness. That's not quite true though is it, it's just that the things I do don't tend to make me any money, because I've been more interested in giving my work away for nothing than in marketing it. That can always change.
Money comes in cycles, money is just a way of keeping score. And sometimes, when you don't have any, you appreciate once more the things that money can't buy. A kind of simplicity, you don't have to think about going out and where to go because you can't afford to go out. So you immerse yourself in other things, things to hand, such as watching all the butterflies that are now being attracted to the sweetly scented buddleia in the garden, peacocks, commas, red admirals. Absolutely beautiful. On the other hand: what is life without wine, women and song? One must go out carousing as well.
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