One of the most charming things about traveling to the UK, besides the fact that they have not joined Schengen (which can be forgiven, given that the UK is an island), is the currency. Many lesser men could mock the fact that almost all of the notes and coins sport the likeness of a monarch, a system which we all like to think died out (along with peerage) hundreds of years ago. Or they could take a cheap shot at the bright and pretty colors of or the type of calligraphy script used on the bills which might considered, by some, to be „a little flowery.“
I am above this.
No, what I take issue with is much more solid and tangible: the fact that the coins make my ass hurt.
Every time I have to travel to jolly olde England, I end up with an amazing amount of change. And I refer not to the monetary amount or even the physical number of coins. What I mean is the sheer mass of the metal. This change makes my wallet weigh at least half a kilo and jut out from my right cheek like the wallet of that social studies teacher you had in middle school whose ass was so fat the back pockets of his pants were over a foot and a half apart.
As a kid, I always thought that having a dollar coin would be a good idea. A coin roughly the size of the US quarter would be easy to use and handier than a paper dollar bill. Even though the infinite wisdom of the American people has once again proven me wrong given the acceptance of the Sacajawea dollar, I personally found the Euro coin and the former one and five Mark coins quite handy. They are/were of a reasonable size which progress/progressed from smallest for the smallest denomination upwards. This is the right way to do it. The wrong way to do it is to make the name of the denomination of the coin reflect its weight. Add to that the fact that the two pence piece is twice the size of a five pence piece and at least one and a half times the size of the twenty pence piece with the one and fifty pence pieces somewhere in between, and if you buy a drink with a five pound note, you are going to end up with a bruise on your butt. Did I mention that the two pound coin has proportions such that you could attach it to a ribbon and award it at the next Olympic games?
Granted the US coinage is a bit random with the dime being smaller than the penny and nickel, and the fact that the dime is called a dime and has on it no where what its worth actually is. However, when I break a five dollar bill, I am generally not concerned about my wallet throwing my back out.
I should not be too hard on the UK though. After all these are the same people who are still reeling from the shocks of decimalization in the seventies. Remember reading about all those charming coins like shillings and farthings in Dickens or hearing Julie Andrews singing about twopence? That wasn’t hundreds of years ago. Yes, as the rest of the developed world was enjoying the latest advances in civilization such as disco and cocaine, the English were implementing a monetary system based on the number ten.
“Good day to you sir, I would like to buy an eight-ball of blow on this fine morn!”
“There you are, governor. That’ll be half a crown.”
“Jolly good! See you in a fortnight!”
Goddamnit. I guess I need to figure out how much half a crown is now so I can go out and buy and eight ball.