Have you ever had your portrait painted (or drawn, sculpted etc)? Where do you fall on the Cromwell-Hughes spectrum?
“Mr. Lely, I desire you would use all your skill to paint my picture truly like me, and not flatter me at all; but remark all these roughnesses, pimples, warts, and everything as you see me, otherwise I will never pay a farthing for it.” Oliver Cromwell
“When having my portrait painted I don’t want justice, I want mercy.” Billy Hughes
Not that I am suggesting anyone fail to pay their lawful taxes – look where it got Al Capone, for a start. Instead, I turn to the time-honoured practice of the cash-free economy, as a convenient way of reducing or minimizing tax incurred.
A wise and talented friend of mine suggested some time ago that we could swap skills to mutual benefit. I knit, she doesn’t; she is a professional artist and I can’t even conjure the artistic verisimilitude of a stick-man.
So, I am going to knit her a warm wooly winter hat and scarf (patterns selected from Ravelry, the only online social network to which I belong) and she is going to draw a portrait of me (which I plan in due course shall grace the About page).
Let us hope, for the sake of the sighted public, that her kindness as a friend outweighs her accuracy as an artist…
There are a lot of benefits to entering the cash-free economy.
For example, the lack of tax. Yes, tax is still payable on the materials, but the labour is untaxed, as is the final product.
Consider: How many hours at the DDJ would it take to earn the money to pay for a portrait? More than I care to think of, particularly considering that the government would insist on taking a nice fat slice of tax off the top. Shudder.
So much more pleasant to knit instead, which is a) something I enjoy, b) something I find relaxing and c) something I can do while either watching a DVD or listening to my husband read – it doesn’t get much better than that!
There’s also the social aspect – particularly important for those of us who work at home. I spent a very enjoyable morning with my friend going through patterns and then selecting yarns and needles. As Marianne asks, “is there a felicity in the world superior to this?”
What skills do you have that others might have need of? Conversely, what skills are you in need of? Cash can be a convenient arrangement when there isn’t a directly reciprocal need, but why go via cash (and be taxed) when you don’t have to? It’s worth asking around – most people are happy to be offered a chance of legal tax avoidance.
Barter, cashless economy, payment in kind, quid pro quo – call it what you will, it’s a great old idea. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to put my feet up, have a cup of tea and knit.