(A childs fishing net is great for plucking prawns from the sea as they float around the rocks on the incoming tide)
“We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.” (Richard Buckminster Fuller)
I have an irresponsible attitude towards money.
I blame it on my mother and father (He was a follower of the man I have quoted above).
My mother’s mantra was” Never worry about money! it will always come from somewhere”
But interestingly even though she queried the existence of God (she always said her favorite choice of religion would be quakerism) she would look skywards as she uttered these words.
She may have developed her mantra out of desperation.
She was married to an Architect/artist who would have preferred to have been an Artist/fly fisherman/ideologist/ wanderer/explorer/architect!
A man who hadn’t a clue about the cost of anything and wasn’t great about chasing up money owed to him from various architectural projects.
A man who left all money matters in the hands of his wife.
Once he went into a fruit and vegetable shop to buy some grapes for her when she was in hospital having her eighth child.
After handing over a pound he stood with the grapes in one hand and the other hand outstretched towards the shopkeeper (Whose hand was outstretched towards my father)
After a while my father smiled ‘I’m waiting for my change’ He murmured politely.
To which the shopkeeper replied equally politely ‘And I’m waiting for the rest of the price of the bunch of grapes’.
So you see I hadn’t a hope.
When money was short my mother had to find various means to make ends meet. This happened more frequently towards the end of her child rearing years.
A time when the last of my siblings were trickling unwillingly through the final years of their education and my father was disappearing more frequently off on his fishing trips. (often taking us out of school to row him around various lakes) Though in fairness to him he usually brought home a large bag of trout for tea.
Luckily my mother was also an artist and ‘money coming from somewhere’ was really thanks to her hard work as one.
Despite rearing eight children she still found time to create.
And find buyers for her work.
I remember walking down grafton street with her one day helping her carry a suitcase.
Bursting with samples of patch quilting, liberty cotton frame surrounds, padded hand stitched silk hanger covers, wedding ring cushions with lace trims, we took turns in hauling it to the liberty shop in the Westbury center who if satisfied might order supplies of from her.
This was an embarrassing chore for me as I was at ‘that age’ and my mother always chatted to some smelly drunken old man on the bus on the way into town.
When I showed my embarrassment by nudging her in the ribs, she would tell me to be kind and to remember that she might be the only person to whom that individual would talk to on that day and that loneliness was a terrible thing! far worse than a lack of money.
I would cringe further and sink back in my seat wishing I could disappear into it, fearing that ‘Mr drunken smelly’ would hear her but he would be too busy sucking liquor out of a brown paper bag (well a bottle hidden in a brown paper bag).
Any way on this particular outing way we bumped into Mrs Cranny, my old elocution teacher, in the middle of the busiest shopping street in dublin.
My mother and my teacher greeted each other warmly.
‘What have you in your suitcase May?’ My teacher enquired.
To my horror, my mother laid the suitcase on the pavement and unzipped it, opening the lid out on the concrete.
‘I’m bringing samples to the liberty shop. Fingers crossed they like them and I’ll get an order’ My mother explained.
Mrs Cranny peeked in curiously to inspect my mother’s wares.
‘But these are wonderful’ she cried, lifting out a delicate little cushion of white silk with a cream lace edging and two tiny silk ribbons for holding a pair of wedding rings
‘How much is it? I’ll take it!’ A complete stranger was rummaging for her purse in her bag
My mother And Mrs Cranny looked up from the open case in surprise.
A curious crowd was gathering! and they were all trying to peer over each others shoulders into the suitcase .
Some were actually starting to push each other.
‘Ooooh look at those lovely covered hangers’ one woman tried to reach down between my mother and mrs cranny.
‘Wow I love those picture frames! Look at that detail. They would be a fab present for my sister’s birthday’ A girl in a bank person’s uniform was trying to squeeze her way in.
My mother shut the case firmly and struggled to her feet .
All I could hope for was that no one from my school was in the vicinity
The disappointed crowd moved away and mrs Cranny and my mother kissed each others cheeks with promises of meet ups for coffee in Bewleys sometime soon.
We headed it on to the Liberty shop and there was no cause for panic. My mother got an order for all of her wares.
Heading to the bus stop she stopped to chat to and give a pound to a young girl sitting on the side of the street with a baby in a blanket.
‘Bless you Ma’am’ the girl called out looking at the pound in her palm in disbelief (a pound was a lot of money back then)
‘Hey what about me ? I helped you haul that heavy suitcase into town’
But I kept my thoughts to myself (She needs it more than you would have been the answer ) because that’s also how my mother worked things out. It wasn’t always the hardest workers or those entitled to it that she gave money to, sometimes it was those that she felt needed it most.
But I was young back then and didn’t understand that life isn’t always fair.
Now that I am older and wiser her philosophy makes sense
And I live my life NOT worrying about money.
But It’s not as though I lie about idely waiting for riches to befall on me, and as I haven’t invented something amazing as Mr Buckminster Fuller suggests, I continue to work hard as a nurse and also am attempting to write a book of short stories.
But I don’t do these two things consciously to earn money! I do them because I love them (which is where my father’s philosophy kicks in ‘ Do what you love doing! If it earns you a living? How wonderful! If not, just follow your mother’s advice.)’
Luckily my needs are humble and if I was given the choice between a luxurious holiday in the maldives or a cycling holiday in the rainy misty wilds of connemara, cork or kerry on my trusty yellow bike, I wouldn’t have to ponder it at all.
The warm tropical seas. The tall palm trees swaying in the breeze. The evening cocktails by the moonlit shore?
Give me the small fuschia edged boreens of the west of Ireland to cycle along.
The white sands and small rocky coves.
The fresh wind blowing in from the north west causing white horses to rear their heads.
The unpolluted waters where mackerel can be pulled in on a line with a feather, where prawns float on the incoming tide to be plucked from the sea with a childrens fishing net.
Where the black pearls of mussels can be prised off the rocks at low tide and put straight into the pan with garlic, a dash of cream and a cup of white wine.
Pick a handful of wild thyme growing beside your small fire and throw that in too.
Then sit on a rock relishing your feast looking out to the mist covered islands.
Pull a jumper around your shoulders and watch the sun setting in the west (unlike the tropics it will be getting chilly by now)
Then crawl, made drowsy by the freshness of the sea air, into your small tent and drift off to sleep lulled by the pattering of rain on your tent and the splash of waves so close you could stick out your toe and touch the water.
So Here I am!
On my yellow bike, my home a small green tent.
Poor in money but not in fulfillment
‘Money? don’t worry! It will come from somewhere. But this? This is harder earned. This you need to search for.
And it’s getting harder and harder to find it.
No amount of money can produce it.
It’s worth is immeasurable. It is priceless.
And when I’m here I feel I am the richest person in the world.