Saturday, 18 January 2020

Ramblings Of A Silly Old Man - CHAPTER NINETEEN


Who invented this ? Who is responsible for this damn silly plastic money we are forced to use ?  DOH !

We all know that politicians ate ninety-nine pence short of a pound but I had thought The Governor Of The Bank Of England may have had a tiny modicum of basic common sense !

Once upon a time an Assistant Apprentice Tea Stirrers Mate working in a branch of Costa came up with an amazing idea. When the secretary to the Governor of The Bank of England came in for a quick late the Assistant Apprentice Tea Stirrers Mate shared his brilliant idea.

The secretary was suffering from a migraine which, coupled with a hangover, an ingrowing toenail and her hearing aid on the blink said she would take the Assistant Apprentice Tea Stirrers Mate's idea to her boss. he was suffering from a sever bout of depression because his wife had burnt the toast at breakfast. He had put his Y fronts on back to front and was wearing odd socks. A typical day at the head of our nation's finances.

And so it was England's premier bank manager decided he would take the advice of his coffee swigging secretary to impose the Assistant Apprentice Tea Stirrers Mate's thinking for plastic money on us all. The Assistant Apprentice Tea Stirrers Mate was paid a one off  fee equivalent to the gross national product of a redundant Sheffield steel works so buying for The Bank of England the sole rights to produce slippery, slimy plastic money.

There was a time when out proud nation had proper money, believe me it did.  There were twelve pennies in a shilling and twenty shillings to the pound. Simple. We had pennies and we had half-pennies, we had three penny coins pronounced thupeny bits. We had nice little six penny coins.  Twelve pennies to the shilling, twenty-four half-pennies the shilling, four thrupeny bits to the shilling and two six pences to the shilling. Easy peasy.

Now going back to when I was a little kid we had the farthing, one quarter of a penny so there were forty-eight of them in a shilling All very straight forward.

Twenty shillings to the pound. There were four crowns to the pound, each worth five shillings. There were half-crowns worth two shillings and six pence. The way to write two shillings and six pence was 2/6d - d meant pence. There were also florins, two shilling coins which were depicted as 2/-. No problem with that. So we had twelve shillings to the pound, four crowns to the pound, eight half crowns to the pound and ten florins to the pound.

Posh people, mainly ladies buying their knickers from Harrods Food Hall, like the guinea. That was one pound and one shilling written £1/1/-  If you ever wanted to buy a guineas  pig from a shop you never had to ask the price it was one guinea - £1/1/-.

The pennies, the half-pennies and the farthings were made of copper so were referred to coppers. The sixpences, shillings, florins, half-crowns and crowns were made of a silver coloured alloy so were call silver. I don't have a clue what the trupenny bits were made from.

Holding folding were paper bank notes in denominations of ten shillings, one pound, five pounds and for the wealthy the ten pound note.

How easy and simple was that ?  A practical and well loved system of money which worked equally well for pauper and prince.

There were no branches of Cota Coffee in the late sixties and early seventies employing Assistant Apprentice Tea Stirrers Mates or even fully qualified Assistant Tea Stirrers Mates. Let me take you back to when Britain had a semi-literate Labour Government with no member of which Costa would ever think of giving a job to. This government was headed by a pipe smoking, bottom scratching Prime Minister who went by the unfortunate name of Harold Wilson. He had a problem of not being able to count beyond ten and he had to use his fingers for that. If he needed to go beyond ten he had to take his shoes and socks off the stink of which would have incited any voter within a mile to support The Monster Raving Loony Party.

In a cabinet meeting Prime Minister Harold Wilson had all of his cabinet members place their hands flat on the table. The Chancellor Of The Exchequer Roy Jenkins was told to go round and count the fingers. There were eleven members in Wilson's cabinet, take away Jenkins and that left ten for the chancellor to undertake the complex and brain challenging task of counting how many fingers there were in the ten pairs of hands on the table. After a recount, a double and then a final check the cabinet minutes recorded one hundred fingers.  It also recorded the Minister for Health had dirty fingernails, the Minister for Education bit his fingernails. The Minister for Agriculture had nicotine stains on his index and middle fingers. The Minister for Social Security was wearing a ring with a diamond only marginally smaller than the Koh-i-Noor.

After a long debate the cabinet decided money should be based on a unit of one hundred. One hundred pennies to the pound, shillings were to be abandoned. When Harold Wilson lost the general election the nation hoped salvation would come in the form of a Conservative Government with Ted Heath as prime Minister. No such luck, Ted sailed boats and played the organ in his spare time he had no interest in economy and money in any form.

Today in modern times all members of parliament have to pass a stupidity test before they can be sworn in. That law was introduced by John Major and since receiving the Royal Assent not a single newly elected member of parliament has failed the test. It is not surprising, therefore, that the idea originating in Costa Coffee has been taken up by one thicko government after another so inflicting plastic paper money on the nation.

What was wrong with the loved paper notes ?  OK, the ten shilling note was made redundant by the folly of decimalisation but the five, ten, twenty and even the fifty pound notes worked well enough.  The only issue was when customers in Costa Coffee split drink on their money. OK, the notes could be dried but wouldn't it be better if they were made of plastic ? How cool was that for an idea ?

The notes would not tear, they would not stain, children could not eat them and criminals could not forge them. Doh, of course they could AND do !

Let's make them slimy and slippery so a wealthy man could use them to practice on ahead of heading to The Alps for a ski-ing holiday.

In a fire these notes would not burn like paper notes. What a brilliant idea. No they would melt.

But they slip out of your pocket, fall on the ground and are lost. Don't worry about that somebody will pick them up.

Have you ever tried to use one of these stupid plastic Costa Coffee notes in a supermarket self checkout ?  Don't try, they are not robot friendly !  Are they environmentally friendly ?  I mean can they be recycled ?    Recycled into sensible paper we used to have in the old days !

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