Sunday, 28 April 2013

Cup of sugar, anyone?

Neither a borrower nor a lender be.

I (mis)tweeted this the other night, partly in reaction to a disturbing article from 2005 by Jon Ronson about a man who killed himself because of his burden of computer-induced borrowing.*   Z responded “No point in coming to you for a cup of sugar, then”, so let’s get that out of the way first – I would be mortally offended if you were to turn up next day with a repayment.  I would weigh the sugar on the scales to make the point, and would check that the cup (if it was mine) wasn’t chipped.  (As you know full well!)
However, to get back to Shakespearean financial analysis.  Polonius was a sanctimonious old meddler who probably deserved all he got in his arras, and as father-to-son stuff his advice to Laertes might have been well-placed (and I’m aware that the whole speech is a comic piss-take): but Will requires us, whether he meant so or not, to generalise his wisdom, so we have to wonder whether it’s possible for everyone to be neither.

Of course, it is.  All we need to do is shut down the entire structure of human commerce.  And abolish money as a side-effect.  The notion of a world in which no borrowing or lending of money ever takes place is worth thinking about.  I was going to expand on this thought, until I realised I’d be missing my own point.
So.  My ninety-year-old friend K. insisted on paying her share of every taxi fare for every single Jersey journey, on the spot, because “I’ve never been in debt in my life and I’m not starting now.”   I tried to convey that she could just accept it as a gift, but she wasn’t having any. 

I said ‘human commerce’, which is ambiguous.  Can we measure out our human commerce solely in spoons of money, or should we be thinking in un-repaid cups of sugar and their real worth too?

* I highly recommend ‘Lost at Sea – The Jon Ronson Mysteries’ to anyone who wants to be simultaneously enraged and tickled pink by some of the absurdities of modern life.

No point coming to you for a cup of sugar, thenNo point coming to you for a cup of sugar, then


  1. lend us fiver then mate...

  2. I'll have the next fiver on offer!

  3. I recently read The Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson. I hadn't realised before, how hilariously close the X Files was to the truth.

    What's that? Fivers? Yes please.

  4. Fivers for the asking? I'm in!

  5. Hang on, where did this fiver fever come from?? Happy to oblige, though; though the offer I didn't make is now closed. Just form an orderly queue, cups of sugar at the ready.

  6. I seem to have been uncharacteristically rude, although I trust I spoke in jest.

    Laertes was a something of a chip off the old block too - Ophelia's teasing yet pointed reply - 'do not as some ungracious pastors do...' has always made me feel that she was one of the more interesting people in the play and killing her off so soon was a bit of a mistake on shakespeare's part.