I was privileged as a child. We were a well-to-do family, and I wanted for nothing. However, Father, and Mother always insisted that I understood the value of money. We were fortunate that we didn’t need to live on credit, unlike some families. That said, we did to some extent. In so far as much of what we purchased – groceries, clothing, furniture and such like were purchased on account with the various shops and merchants, which accounts we settled up on a weekly or monthly basis. Father insisted, even though some people we knew did so far less often. That was the way of things. I knew about all this in some detail because once I had learned my sums at school, Mother and Father would let me practice my sums on our finances. Mother, with the domestic bills, and Father, during the school holidays at least, helping him with his books. I spent so much time practicing my sums by working out the florist’s bill, the butcher’s bill and such like, or working out what Father’s business owed the brick-maker, the timber merchants and so forth. It was no wonder I grew up to be an accountant. I wonder if I still could be, if I took the appropriate training.
It seems not much has changed, at least, in the general sense of spending money. People still buy things on credit and pay monthly. Except the books are done on computers, obtaining credit is more complicated and, unlike in my day, rarely includes any personal knowledge of the client. Which would be tricky in my case, given my date of birth. However, somehow, we have achieved it. I exist in this modern world, and I am equipped with assorted small rectangles of plastic that allow me to spend our money, of which we have a more than adequate supply.
It is well, having such means, that I was taught the value of money as a child, else I might get a little reckless in my shopping. In fact, despite our means, I am quite restrained. Unlike my beloved wife and her seemingly insatiable appetite for more things for the wardrobe, I do not regard shopping as an activity it its own right. However, I am not without fault in that respect. I indulge in the acquisition of fine wines and only the very best in spirits. I never could resist a book, even if many I purchase these days only exist in the miniaturised confines of my tablet. Or possibly in the cloud. I’m still not entirely sure on that point. And, recently, I did go a little wild in my quest for refreshing my musical abilities.
After some searching, I decided to visit a merchant of musical instruments, at a store called Grimes. Among many other things, they had quite a selection of things loosely related to the piano. There was an actual grand piano, but I also found myself fascinated by the wonders of modern electronic keyboard instruments. Some, it seems, are intended solely to imitate a piano, albeit in slightly more portable form and with the ability to imitate several different types of piano. Others, while presenting as a piano keyboard, allow you to any number of instruments, real and imagined. Hidden inside the machine, the keyboard merely selects from a range of sounds, a piano, an oboe, a marimba and many other sounds not normally expected of something with keys. One of the ones I played with could even play tunes from non-musical sounds, like a dog barking. And another, you can make sounds that belong to no instrument known to man. It’s all done with numbers, I expect. Wren, and later, Skeleton, have patiently explained to me, several times, that everything in computers is made of numbers. The pictures on my tablet screen and phone screen are made of little dots where each colour is a different number. The music I listen to on it is made of numbers too. So, it makes sense that if music can be numbers, numbers can be music. If you take the numbers that make a Middle C on a piano, and put it in the keyboard, and when you press that key, it turns the numbers back into sound, you have a piano. And, if you changed some of those numbers, it might not sound like a Middle C, or, it night be a C, but not sound like a piano. I have probably misunderstood it all anyway, but then, I am still adjusting to all this technology. It’s all very fascinating.
All too fascinating, I fear. I spent a couple of hours playing. The shop assistants indulged me, and my ignorance of the technology and were very happy to help. Especially when they saw the colour of my credit cards. That too, is something that has not changed since my day. Except it would have been the colour of my money back then. I suppose it still is really, with the colour of the card indicating the colour of my money. That always struck me as a strange phrase. Back home in England, banknotes are different colours, whereas here, at least, in the mortal parts, the banknotes are depressingly drab. The colour of your money is… green. Either way, I think I went a little wild with the shopping. I presented my plastic, the clerk said something about that doing nicely, and then giggled. This was, I suspect, some kind of in-joke that wasn’t explained. I gave them details for delivery to a little warehouse we have on the mainland. After that, it will probably have to be magic. I don’t think Awenia is ready for large trucks to come rumbling through the woods just yet. Plus, I’m not entirely sure I know how to open the veil wide enough for something that big anyway. It will take a few days either way. I might even get them into the house without Gwyn noticing when she gets back from her travels.
Now all I need is somebody to teach me how to work the damn things. The piano and synthesiser, that is, I think I know how to work the plastic now. So much easier than dealing with an obsequious clerk asking, “Will that be on your account, Mr Ballard.” Next job, a music teacher who can cope with my unconventional lifestyle. Either that, or rent an apartment on the mainland and pretend to be what I once was, an ordinary man with a love for music.