This story, from Peter Preston in the Observer, sums it up:
A couple of years ago, the excellent pub in Edgefield, Norfolk, where my sister lives, began very modestly and occasionally swapping customers’ spare fruit and veg for a pint and pickles. This summer, the manager, Cloe Wasey, stuck a note on her menus reminding regulars at The Pigs that ‘we’re still in that (bartering) market’. But then, out of the blue on 13 August, the Metro papers carried a tale about the pub and the credit crunch. Suddenly bartering was the new silly season sensation.
In poured the Times, Mail, Sun, Telegraph et al. In poured BBC and ITV camera crews. Last week, when I dropped in for a drink, Cloe was shepherding an American team from ABC around her crowded bar (she’d had to put Japan and Germany on hold). Enter on cue, one local extra with a scenic forest of rhubarb. Enter second local with trout on a crystal plate. I’ve been on four different TV news shows, he beams.
It’s a game for a laugh and still (just) August. Add a topical ‘credit crunch’ intro and span the globe.
I mentioned this to a former foreign correspondent who was recalling talking to a newsdesk about a major outbreak of fighting in the town where she was the only foreign reporter at the time. The desk said “but there’s nothing on the television…”