McNair promises a "five-step programme" to "release you from the terrors of the financial system". En route he takes in the history of monetisation, the notion of the collapse of trust in money (the bank run); and orchestrates a vigorous bidding war for an unspecified number of banknotes contained in a sealed envelope. Bids have, in the past, reached £100, although on his opening night in Edinburgh the bidding stopped at £26.50.Crunch time at the Edinburgh festival: audiences step up to shred cash (via We Make Money Not Art)
He also bartered with an audience member for her treasured necklace – her eventual price was a tour round Edinburgh, a bike ride, home-cooked lunch and the promise that he would come round and assemble her flat-pack furniture. Afterwards McNair said: "I wasn't expecting her to say she lived in Austria but if it's viable, yes, I will go to Austria and put up her shelves."
The climax of the show was, however, the moment when he suggested members of the audience feed their hard-earned cash through an office shredder, "as a vaccine against the disasters of the future, so that money and greed will lose their grip on you". Five did, with £10 notes as well as £5 notes returned to their owners as useless slithers of paper. (Destroying banknotes is not an offence, as commonly believed, though defacing them is.)
(Image: downsized thumbnail from a photo by Murdo Macleod)
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.