“No, it’s my shout,” M’Lady insists. Dave, on the other side of the table, pipes up, “No use arguing, mate.” His wife Linda, Nancy’s eldest, says, “Mummy has a contingency fund for this. No worries.” And Nancy tugs at the bill. Four people; $313+. Wow! The value of being served?
Kangaroo meat (culled with ethical practice, whatever that is); Broom bug meat; Sweet potato Gnocchi; a ploughman’s platter; Salmon; Duck; and Assorted Medley; along with deserts, wine, beer and... Well, I’m not one for this kind of record keeping. The Guilford Rose and Crown was established in 1918. We sat outside by a bamboo stand, under a gazebo-like structure. The planes took off and landed, almost directly overhead. Birds screeched. A distant live musician played at being James Taylor. After his set The Beatles jangled, too loudly for Nancy, so the waitress turned it down. And we toasted each other, toasted the cool night after two weeks of blistering 30+ temperatures, and I adjusted to being out of the house in a car, and took to leaning on an arm to get to my seat. Too bumpy for my wheelchair. But `twas a good night. Yet worth $300+??
Value is mercurial. What once was a few bob is now worth a small fortune. Yet soon enough few shall care about Elvis. Or Chubby Checker. Or Sir Arthur Street. The medals and the ribbons and the certificates will have some value for collectors, until they too die, and eventually what was valuable will become cheap. Theatre props. Broken down. Disused. And tossed out. It is the value we deem a thing to be that makes us surrender time, money, effort, and ourselves toward having it. Just recently I would have paid $35.00 for a no-longer published paperback; I found the rare thing in a second-hand bookstore for $4.75. Value is relative! One pays $25.00 for an original sketch, but frames it for $40 or more. “See,” we proudly show, “I had it framed!” Value is often misguided, misspent. It is a fleeting thing as insubstantial as memory. I for one no longer taste the meal. I somewhat recall what the book was about. And as for a film I once watched for $30 plus at the movie house, well, what of the large head directly ahead of me?
It is not that I am curmudgeonly. It is that I am conscious of effort. I suppose chronic pain does that; it metes out time in terms of worth-while-ness. What is the return for the effort involved? And if ‘time is money’ (a rather sad phrase) then all things requiring such expenditure of my money have their bearing on me; directly. Yet I am no scrooge. But if a simple plate of food is before me I am just as satisfied as if it were a gourmet’s delight. And while others are most appreciative of the epicurean delights; I am not. Good food, good wine, good cars, good clothes, good jewelry, much makeup, and even good views are no longer what they used to be; I have become a man of simple means. It would serve me well to get an inexpensive take-out and to sit by the Swan River. I hear it’s here somewhere; over there? It would serve me well just to drink water. Something there is in me that just does not want much of ‘things’ any more. I feel free.
Perhaps it is the having of hundreds of artifacts throughout my own lifetime (and now the handling of those belonging to others) that so fulfills the old wont of stuff in me. But I am happy to pay when it is indeed ‘my shout’. Or am I too infirm to raise my voice when it’s my turn? The thing is not to care about the money, but to be aware of the value. One sits among friends. “Barkeep! Another round!”