In the second part of the fourth chapter of Making Money, Moist makes a mess by running his mouth, and then has a ridiculous idea. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
I LOVED THIS SO MUCH. I figured that once Moist was in, he would be in, but this happened so fast. And of course it did! Once Moist accepted that he had to represent Mr. Fusspot—as absurd as that is—his mouth was ready to spew out whatever half-baked idea was at the ready. And to Sacharissa Cripslock, no less! Oh my god, this opening scene was just so FUN, y’all. We know Sacharissa has seen some THINGS, so there’s a delight in getting to see how Moist shocks her. She’s ready. She is prepared for the bullshit, and she is prepared to call out Moist right to his face, and then… oh god, he just starts SAYING SHIT.
Because look: it really does seem obvious that Mrs. Lavish gave her shares to Mr. Fusspot to screw the family. And it also seems obvious that Vetinari’s Undertaking will now deal with the bank. Right? So, I can see how Sacharissa went into this feeling like she had a sense for Moist’s shenanigans, that she knew what kind of bullshit he’d spin, and then… nope. I love that she says this so early:
“Moist, you are just no fun anymore.” Sacharissa closed her notebook. “You’re talking like… well, like a banker.”
And in that, Pratchett reveals another angle to her: She also knew that Moist most likely would provide her with an interesting story. Look what happened last time he was given a public institution! And yet, in short time, Moist delivers on the goods, and oh my god, it’s a delight to re-read this for the review and see the exact point where he gets himself in trouble.
“I intend to throw out what we don’t need. For example, we have a room full of useless metal in the vault. That’ll have to go.”
And just like that, Moist starts making ridiculous promises that he hasn’t actually thought about, that he doesn’t know how he’ll execute, and HE DOESN’T STOP. Not only does he say he’ll get the bank off the gold standard, but then he makes a sensible but hilarious comparison to the potato standard. Then he kinda promises to just give money away? Truly. GIVE MONEY AWAY.
“How can you expect me to come up with a new fiscal initiative by teatime?”
“All right, but—“
“It’ll take me at least until breakfast.”
MOIST. WHY ARE YOU LIKE THIS. Spoiler: it’s because he can’t resist it. It’s the thrill of the impossible, the challenge of the preposterous. It’s why he loved conning people so much! Except now, the game has changed. He’s got so many eyes on him that it’s impossible for him to hide. He’s now been profield by The Times how many times? When he’s got that golden suit on, he’s the Postmaster General. So… what about that top hat? It’s certainly not as flashy as the gold suit, but something tells me that Moist is going to come up with something new. A tuxedo of some sort, maybe?
I say that because Pratchett is toying with notions of class and wealth in this story. Take Aimsbury and Peggy for example, the chef and his daughter. Ahem, I mean the dog chef. Aimsbury has ONLY COOKED FOR THE DOG THE WHOLE TIME HE’S BEEN EMPLOYED BY THE LAVISHES. The very idea is so absurd to me, but I feel like this is barely a joke, if it’s one at all. I hesitate to look up dog chefs because I’m certain I’ll find out how much they make and I’ll have to go lay down. And it’s not that having a specialized diet for a dog is weird! But having the quality of food that Mr. Fusspot gets, and knowing that someone dedicates their every waking day to preparing it is… a lot. I can’t fathom it. So: a tuxedo! A black top hat isn’t enough, particularly one that old. Wouldn’t it be fun if Moist played with an outfit meant to communicate a high class standing?
I feel like that’s where this story is heading. How can Moist dismantle all the classist nonsense that now surrounds the bank? One of those ways appears to have its origins in this chapter as Moist re-thinks money. There’s such a wonderful internal monologue here about what money means and where it derives its value. It isn’t in gold, which is assigned a meaning by humans. It isn’t “naturally” valuable in any real sense. So, if money is going to based on things that we giving meaning to, why can’t something as big as a city provide that value? Here, Pratchett gets to the arbitrary nature of money, and Moist gets to start something exciting. What if he created bills that weren’t just flashy, but were worth a set value? What if they had “gravitas,” and what if they were official? And what if he could change the idea of who provides that value rather than basing it on the fluctuating price of gold?
THIS IS EXCITING!!!
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