Psst! Lend us a fiver. No not that one, writes Shirley Tart. It’s dirty, crumpled, torn a bit at the bottom. Ugh. I’ll have one of your nice clean plastic jobs, please.
Yes, yes, I know when that nice Bank of England issued it, the note was pristine with a very nice just-ironed look, good enough to go on show in fact.
But just think where it’s been since then.
On reflection, let’s not linger too much on that. All those greasy back pockets boasting dubious old crumbs from who knows where.
Then there’s filthy fingers, dodgy cash drawers where your little paper offering is shoved along with other suspect notes, and that will be just the tip of a mucky iceberg. Not a pretty picture.
Now, I think germs should more or less be cheerfully passed around from baby upwards. Otherwise nobody ever gets any immunity against anything. But the other practical reason why filthy, falling-apart paper notes which you then put in your immaculate purse or wallet, should be sent into retirement, is that eventually they will crumble like your gran’s finest flaky pastry.
So bring on the plastic. Yes, I know there will be uproar at the very idea of replacing our precious notes with a more durable version but what about the credit, debit and numerous store and other cards which we pack into our lives? They are plastic.
Of course there is an impressive history around the nation’s bank notes; we have been passing them around since the central bank was created in 1694 as a way of raising money for King William III’s war against France. The first fully printed notes date back to 1853, before that, they were handwritten and signed by a bank cashier.
Yes, it’s a big step and maybe a step too far. And after that minor rant, this may come as a surprise but actually, I really am concerned about this plastic world we have created. I worry about disposing of it all and the centuries of waste, but there is a much bigger picture here. Cleaning up our paper notes with something plastic which you can wash, doesn’t seem a massive priority given how we have already coated the globe in countless items all made of plastic.
Answer me this though, Bank of England – how will we dispose of them when their time comes? At least paper responds nicely to a match.