Monday, October 08, 2007

London Journey: Part Ten

British Money

British Money was interesting to get used to…with its white £ notes- covered with much brighter colours that our sober, greenish-gray America currency- it looks much more like “play money” than ours. This is not a helpful physiological hint when British Money is as expensive as it is. The pound is roughly equivalent to somewhere between a dollar eighty-five and two dollars at the moment.

On a “note-by-note” basis, however, the spending power seems to be about the same. That is to say, if you walked into a Burlington Supermarket with a $20 bill, and you walked into a British Grocer with a £20 note, you would walk about with roughly the same amount of food in your shopping bag. (This means, of course, that things here are about twice as expensive as they are in the States.)

My neighbor Dwight gave us a pound before we left, and said that he would enjoy the thought of us plunking it down on the bar of a London pub and ordering a pint. Thank you, sir, we have done that, many times over…but I’ll always remember that first ale!

At any rate, I now understand what Dwight meant. Unlike the United States, where we use paper bills right down to the dollar, the British have not surrendered their coins. (A wise thing, when you think about the long series of failures on the part of the U.S. Treasury to reintroduce a dollar coin in America- poor Susan B. and Sackawagia have all but gone the way of the Dodo within a year.) Therefore, when you have a pocket full of coins in England, you have a pocket full of money.

The pound coins, in particular, give great pleasure. First of all, they are about twice as thick as any American coin- somewhat like a Double-Stuff Oreo Cookie…and because of this, when you have a handful of pounds, it’s heavy, and you REALLY feel like you have a handful of MONEY.

They make the most delightfully solid clunking sound when you rattle them together.

After rolling a handful of British Pounds around my palm, I think I understand Scrooge a little better.

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