Monday, 12 September 2016

LSD in metric...


The new five pound note is in circulation as of tomorrow. It's rather a nice little piece of kit, made of a polymer, which is undoubtedly easier to replicate than special paper, but who am I to judge, I'm only a humble old fart these days.

Years ago, I worked with a chum, who was developing the latest computer chips. There was a state-of- the-art manufacturing business in Sidcup, and it was such a hi-tech business, that the building itself was literally built on springs, to alleviate vibration from the various trains which infest South London. Each laboratory had positive ventilation, such that when you opened a door, there was a 'Star Trek' whoosh, as air was pumped out so that germs, dust, and other nasties didn't invade the procedures being perpetrated within. They also used millions of gallons of water for cooling, which made a few people at some water board or other have a seizure, but it was a good business.

Back then the quandary was how thin could a computer chip wafer be manufactured? I would think that the sort of kit we have in a mobile phone is about a thousand times thinner, and a million times quicker than anything being made in the eighties, so the mystery probably will still be around over the next century or so.

But this fiver bothers me somewhat.

I always hankered after The Royal Mint producing a general circulation £5 coin. It would be big, heavy, and carry the gravitas a good currency demands. Scrobs Senior travelled far and wide in Europe in the sixties and seventies, and always came home with a pocket of pretty useless change. When he popped off this mortal coil, we kept all the coins and used them to tip French lavatory attendants, bugger up foreign parking meters and gave them to scroungers (unkind, but useful), and we still have a huge box of them. Some of these are frankly not worth making! They're often a light alloy, have no milling, and mean very little, other than they look like some of the coins you get with a kid's toy shop till or similar.

So now we're down to a small plastic sheet, with a drawing of a proper politician! (If that's not a contradiction in terms).

I hope it works. The fivers I keep stashed away for Christmas are all old, well folded with writing/darts holes/dirt etc all over them, and I hope the small wallet I use will accept a twice folded plastic membrane comfortably.

And also I hope that it hasn't be reproduced by some gang up North, or in Scotland, or London, and printed on an old polythene bag!


7 comments:

Thud said...

They seem ok,I've never really cared whats on them or what they are made of....just how many I have!

rvi said...

Lots of other countries (including the one I inhabit) have had these plastic notes for years. I seem to recall the reason given is that they last longer than the paper equivalents. Personally, I have no problem with them - except that the new ones are very slippery and also have a tendency to stick to each other so care is needed when using them. Vending machines, parking ticket meters etc also have to be adjusted to accept them too whenever a change is made.

Living overseas for most of my life, I have suffered the indignation on at least two occasions at Heathrow when I tried to pay a tube fare with long-ago withdrawn notes! Testing the humour of ticket office employees at 6am is not recommended! Although now of course those folks have all been discarded and the offices do not open until something like 7.30 - late enough to miss the early morning arrivals of at least a dozen 747s or A380s. Fortunately, they did accept credit cards - which, incidentally, is the only way to buy an early morning ticket now. So all one needs to be is reasonably fluent in English to be able to decypher the instructions on the ticketing machines to enable one to continue one's journey into town.

Living in the sticks, I had missed the notification of withdrawal of said notes, so my whole collection (kept in a drawer in readiness for journeys to London) became worthless. Happily, it is possible on arrival to take such dead paper to the nearest bank, where they can be exchanged for valid stuff.

Can you please tell me if these notes are in addition to existing ones or are they complete replacements? If so, what is the expiry date of the current notes I still have in my little "foreign" money drawer?

Why can't the bloody civil servants leave well enough alone?







A K Haart said...

Somehow plastic money feels like a sign of the times.

Michael said...

My Dada would have said "I wouldn't mind a thousand of 'em'", Thud...

Michael said...

From the B of E website, Reevers...

"The new polymer £5 note was issued on 13 September 2016. You can continue to spend paper £5 notes as usual until 5 May 2017. After this they will cease to be legal tender."

But any old notes are exchangeable in any bank 'for all time', so you just need to toddle into any High Street Bank, flash the notes, and they'll give you face value!

Otherwise, send them to: -

Scrobs Inc, The Turrets, One of the Hursts, Nigeria...

Michael said...

We have no credit cards these days, Mr H, and often pay by machine for small amounts - it seems the right thing to do somehow...

But I do like fivers still!

rvi said...

Tqvm Scrobs. Dates noted.

I hope to pop across to dear old Kentland in the next few months so I shall ensure all my current fivers have been dispensed with.