Money Money Money

By Barry Hill


I used to have my cash sorted, quite literally sorted by size.  I’m referring to the old pound notes.  A tenner was the same size as my index finger, a fiver was shorter and a twenty was bigger.  Apparently, those sizes weren’t good enough.


Ok, the new notes do increase in size as the denomination goes up, but the difference is not as much as the difference used to be, and I don’t have a finger to match any of them.  Yeah, I know.  It was very inconsiderate of them not to consult me as to the size of my fingers before settling on the sizes of the notes.


The new fivers and tenners are now made from some plastic that feels remarkably like a till receipt.  As you know, staff in shops and supermarkets automatically give us the receipt with our change or cash back… sometimes without telling us.  Fine for you sighted people, but when I think I’ve got at least a fiver in my wallet and it turns out to be a damned receipt, it’s most inconvenient.  I’m not going to be able to slip that to my window cleaner.


I suppose you’ve noticed the two blocks of Braille on the tenner.  That’s the nod to concession for the bastards changing the sizes of the notes to confuse us blind people.  There’s none of them on the fiver, two on the tenner, and when the new plastic £20 comes out next week, there’ll be three of them.  Ok, got ya on the ‘none on the fiver’, but why two on the £10 and three on the £20 when ten starts with 1 and 20 starts with 2?  I can hear the con-man with the blind old lady now: “Feel the dots on the note?  There’s two sets.  That stands for 20….”


BTW, it’s not Braille.  Well, it is Braille for ‘g’, but that’s only incidental.  It’s just raised squares of dots that just happen to be Braille for ‘g’.  Why?  Well, according to the Bank of England, "We've especially gone for something that doesn't use Braille because very few people in the UK use it." Hmmm…. So, for those who do use Braille, wouldn’t a single Braille 10 on the tenner and two Braille 20s on the £20 have been useful?  And, for those who don’t read Braille, it would still have been one and two tactile markers. 


While I’m having a moan about these Braille markings, why are they only in one corner?  There are eight bloody corners to check.  There’d be letters in the Daily Moan if sighted people had to hold the note in one particular orientation before they could find out what it was.  If they can Braille one corner, why can’t they Braille four corners? 


Maybe if the RNIB had been consulted on the design, then it would have been right.  Hold on…. The RNIB were consulted.  Sigh.  Ok, if I had been consulted it would have had Braille on two diagonal corners on one side and the two opposite corners on the other side.


I also have a serious problem with the texture of new notes.  Ya know when you’re trying to open a bin bag?  They don’t just fall open do they?  Nope.  Static means that you have to wet your finger and thumb and rub an edge, then you peal the sides apart.  Plastic does that.  It’s the static that makes it cling.  What are the new notes made from?  Yup, plastic. 


I got £50 in fivers from my bank a while ago.  When I got home, I counted it.  £40 was the first score.  On the second count I got £35.  I wet my fingers and separated each note on the third count and got £50, but it took me nearly ten minutes to count ten notes.  That’s just not cricket.  If I had been consulted, they would have had cloth-like texture that didn’t stick like shit to a stick.


It’s not just the inconvenience of the length of time it might take me to count my notes, it’s how accurate I am when handing over my cash in a shop.  I think I’m handing over £20 when I’m handing over £25.  I’ll only find out when I cash up at the end of the day.  That’s the normal thing to do, isn’t it?  Doesn’t everyone cash up at the end of the day?  Hmmm…. Just me then?


Weirdly, the notes miraculously have the opposite property to sticking together.  The things are also slippy and springy once you have got them apart.  Try sorting out a wad of notes in your hands and they take on a life of their own.  They squirm like a back bencher out of their depth on Question Time. 


I’ve got it.  Small, Sticky and squirming.  The last time I handled something like that was when trying to dress my baby son when he was determined to stay naked.  They are modelled on a one-year-old child.  The designer must have been broody.  The idea that the RNIB had a hand in the design is laughable.  If I hated blind people, I couldn’t have invented a more fiendish torment for them than these notes.  I’ll tell you what, I’m not going to be trying their iron maiden jock strap.



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