Poor The English Currency.
It changes hands constantly, degrades over time and is the traditional vehicle for delivering Class A’s to the noses of the drug-addled masses. It is taken for granted, crumpled and scribbled upon. It’s repaired with tape, staples and glue, folded and unfolded, shoved in g-strings and paid-in-hand by the unscrupulous. Notes change ownership literally thousands upon thousands of times before they reach their natural end. Your average tenner is man-handled more often than a smutty mag in a 6th Form Common Room. It’s actually incredible when you think about it. But we don’t.
Why would we? When something comes and goes with such rapidity (“Hello Payday! Au Revoir Cash!”) we naturally try not to spend more time dwelling on it than we actually have to. Spending is so easy we rarely require the intervention of cold crisp, slightly whiffy, crumply currency. Wave your contactless card in the general direction of stuff, et voila!
I know you’re waiting for the bit were I get my controversial on, so here goes:
Who fucking cares whose wrinkled old fizzog goes on the front of a fiver? Not me.
The £5 note is changing. Soon we will fail to notice Sir Winston Church frowning out at us instead of Elizabeth Fry. BBC Breakfast gave over a great deal of time to the subject of female under-representation on English banknotes. The Bank of England were warmly described as ‘traditional’ by an expert (imagine me doing wanky air quotes at this point), shoppers were asked who they would like to see depicted and a ‘leading feminist’ (more wanky air quotes) was wheeled out in the traditional fashion for middle England to pull Larry Grayson faces at and exclaim “Well, I’d have never taken HER for one of those. Look at that Lesley, she’s wearing a SKIRT”.
Everyone had Very Strong Views on the matter. More women! More Churchill! More…erm…feminism, or something! A young woman was asked whether more women should be represented on banknotes and she simply replied along the lines that there are more important issues to be debating. It shouldn’t matter. She’s right, of course. We shouldn’t have to be having this conversation in the context of a piece of paper that stresses everyone out quite enough as it is. There are far more pressing matters in the world.
Frankly, in Austerity Britain (TM), shouldn’t we have replaced all this decadent imagery with a plain note, printed with just the denomination and with a simple security measure? After all, only crooks and the poor use nasty unhygienic cash, yah? Actually, probably best not mention this idea to Moon-Faced Dave & Gideon. They’re dying to give Mervyn King a good, old-fashioned Eton-Style wedgie.
But in all seriousness, lets just dispense with the whole pomp and process of deciding who is worthy enough to have their face on a bank note and concentrate on less shitty accolades…