This country recently changed the size and composition of its currency. The old paper banknotes were replaced by ‘plastic’ money. These new notes are slippery, stick together, and cannot be folded. I didn’t like this new money from the start. It just didn’t feel right, and had a tendency to easily slide around. But then I don’t use a wallet, never have. I have always been someone who carried his cash in a trouser pocket. Wallets are easily stolen, especially when carried around in a back pocket, and when you live in a crowded city like London.
Since moving here, I have little need for cash. I can buy everything I need with a bank card, even tap the card against devices in shops to pay small amounts without having to enter a PIN number. For many of us, cash is almost obsolete now. You can even pay for something as small as a bus fare using a bank card.
However, I wanted to get some cash out yesterday, to give to Julie to take on a trip south this weekend. She is meeting a group of friends just outside London, and it is handy to have cash when it comes to splitting bills, or giving over her share of something, like an entrance fee. Outside the supermarket, I used a bank machine to draw out fifty pounds, and that sum was delivered in five ten-pound notes. Brand new plastic notes, all stuck together so firmly, they looked like just one. I made sure there were five of them, and carefully placed them into my trouser pocket before heading inside with my trolley to get the weekly shop.
I knew I would not have to go back into that pocket, as my bank card was in another one, and my car keys were clipped onto the trolley so I didn’t lose them. After getting the ‘big shop’, I had to go into town to sort out someone to come and investigate problems with the TV aerial. I was in the TV shop for just ten minutes, and didn’t have to go into my pockets for anything during that time. I then drove home, and unloaded the car.
Not long after that, I reached into my pocket to give Julie the fifty pounds.
It was gone, all of it.
A search ensued. All the shopping bags were examined. The car searched inside and out. My steps from the driveway to the house retraced, and my clothes examined in great detail.
Julie phoned the supermarket, in the hope that someone might have handed in the cash. They were very helpful, and said that the manager would instruct the cleaning staff to look for the money, once the store closed. If they found it, he would call us on the phone.
By 5 pm, I was so angry with myself for losing the money, I became frustrated and very dejected. I blamed the government for their stupid slippery plastic money, but I mostly blamed myself for being careless and forgetful. Fifty pounds is not a fortune, I know, but when you might just as well have thrown it down a drain, the loss of it is very annoying indeed. And when you are living on two work pensions and the State Pension, even that small amount is a loss that is noticed.
I managed to get to sleep eventually, and to forget about it. But when I woke up this morning, it was the first thing on my mind.
I fear it is going to ruin my whole week.