Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ashley Sterne Life Without Money

From the Huon Times (Franklin, Tasmania) July 29, 1921

To live within one's income is quite hard enough, but to live without it had always seemed to me as impracticable as hanging up the washing to dry on the North Pole. So when I saw in a bookmonger's shop a little volume, 'Life Without Money,' I said to my self, "That's the book for my money!"

But as I hadn't got any money, I couldn't buy it; so I just took it down from the shelf, made a noise like a bookworm so that the bookmonger shouldn't mistake me for a kleptomaniac, and started to perusal it.

I hadn't perusalled very far before I found that the title wasn't quite fair. I found that "Life Without Money'' didn't mean life without any money, but life with only sufficient money to buy absolute necessities.

Going One Better.

We often refer to money in that slipshod way. How often one hears the expression, "She married a man with money," which is generally interpreted to mean bags and bags of money in the old iron coffer, with perhaps a stockingful up the chimney.

If some half-witted damsel under the influence of drink or drugs chose to marry me, you could exclaim with equal truth, "She has married a man with money," for, on turning me upside down and shaking me, you would discover twopence in solid copper, a. threepenny bit with a hole in it in solid silver (all except the hole, which is solid air), and trading-stamps to the value of three-ha'pence. It would be cruel to say I had no money.

A passage in the little book where the author states that the absolute necessities of life are food, raiment and shelter has suggested to me a scheme whereby one can actually live on nothing at all.

I once saw a fasting man at a fair whose sole nourishment for six months had consisted of smelling the butt-end of a gooseberry three times a day.  I know this to be a fact because he told me so himself, and if he didn't know, who did?

Up a Tree

I asked him if he didn't find it monotonous, and he said no, as when he got tired of smelling the butt-end of the gooseberry he merely turned it round and smelt the other end.

You can't whittle the food problem down to a finer point than one gooseberry for life; while, as for raiment and shelter, I read the other day that in one of the Solomon Islands — the second on. the left up High-street — the inhabitants wear no clothes and live in trees. Therefore, to live on nothing at all you should become a fasting man, naturalise yourself as a Solomon Islander, and live up a tree.

At the present moment I am fulfilling two of these conditions — fasting (I'm suffering from a stubborn form of indigestion) and living 'up a tree' (occasioned by an income-tax demand note and eleven unpaid bills.)  So if somebody only sends me a Solomon Island for a birthday present, I can do the job thoroughly.

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