Cups and currency: a story of Latitude

This is something I wrote in the summary and lost among my draft posts, which is why it's so unseasonal. 

Monday morning, Latitude festival was packing up. I was thirsty but couldn’t buy a cup of tea because my money was tied up in cups.

Latitude had a two pound deposit on plastic pint glasses. I would come back to the van with a glass and forget to take it back with me. I had five by the end of Sunday. The campsite bar was open for a couple of hours on Monday morning for refunds so I traipsed down. I’d got the time wrong and arrived early so I joined the queue waiting for the tent to open.

Festivals are all about queueing and waiting, with occasional performances and food. The sun was hot and I pulled up my hoody to give me shade. A couple sat near me, the girl stroking her boyfriend's belly, a large plastic ring on her finger.

About twenty people waited ahead of me. The man at the front had a stack of about fifty cups, others had smaller piles. Some people arrived at the queue but didn't have time to wait. Some surrendered their cups to the two children in the queue, who counted and recounted the twenty cups they had. Someone told me that there had been kids looking for stray cups all around the site, stealing them from people taking drunken naps.

Others wanted to sell their cups to people in the queue. Some of them would exchange the cups for their standard value, but others were prepared to accept smaller amounts. A brief shadow-economy started to flourish.

With the sun beating down on me, I imagined what it could become if the bar didn't open soon. Since the queue had a limited amount of cash, it couldn’t keep paying face-value for cups. The exchange rate was going to fall before long. It wouldn’t be difficult to set up a futures market, trading cups against their future price.

The the door opened. The first man in the queue handed over his fifty cups. He came out with a bag of money, kissed it, and ran away. I stood up, adjusted my hood to keep the sun off, and shuffled forwards.

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