An Idle Muse for a Sunday afternoon,
Money, Money, Money…great isn’t it…but what is it? It got me thinking, musing, on this subject during this week when in my change at a shop I was handed a very odd bank note. A new plastic polymer ‘fiver’ a five pound note issued by the Bank of England. Though Scotland has had a plastic note similar for a while now it is rather rare and I have only encountered a few. Let me tell you that after a life time of paper notes this object is weird in the extreme and does not even feel like ‘money’. So my musing, what is the note and what is money?
The new five pound note is very small, smaller than its paper predecessor. It no longer folds and it has a transparent pane. The front has the Queen as expected and the rear that most prominent of British statesmen Winston Churchill. I can see the securing features, the holograms and the other measures making it harder to counterfeit. It has an odd feel and quite unsettling actually but I suppose I will get used it to as those who swapped coin for note initially did. I folded it, rolled it, crushed it up and it does not return to shape with any ease unlike paper. Have a look at this five pound note from about 1932-37.
I say what is money since the first non tactile notion I gained from this new note was its change from paper to plastic. It puts in physical reality the twin factors of inflation and the illusion of currency as opposed to money. Humour me here. Currency is used as a physical representation of value that changes over time (bank notes) where as money is actual value (silver or gold coins with inherent value themselves) and this new fiver shows it. It is a mere token, an abstract, another step down the line away from ‘money’ on the gold standard. We are moving into plastic ‘chit’ reality devoid of value as all the nations have borrowed in extremis which can never be repaid. Inflation is subtle but there and over time it mounts up and up. Have a think. In rough terms a pack of twenty cigarettes is now about ten pounds, less than a decade ago it was five pounds and when I was a child in the early 1980’s a fiver would have got you hundreds of cigarettes (I use this as I could find the data but it is applied to the pricing of all items). Inflation makes currency worth less and less. I will not go into more detail here as it is a musing.
Remember the 1930’s fiver above..when new it could have bought you 113.5 litres of Petrol….now it buys you about three or four! As for housing…a nice house in London would have set you back thirty of these notes (you earned about one per year on a typical wage)…now…well no point in even trying to work it out.
Anyhow. Lets not get depressed!
You can watch a wee video and learn more officially at the notes very own website The New Fiver. Oh and keep them away from heat..for they melt with ease…I am now without mine… 🙁