Diary

The Two Pounds

05 May 2018 | Diary

At last! They’re gone!

I’d been carrying a pair of old pound coins around for the best part of nine months. I’d open my wallet and there they’d be, peeping back at me like the eyes of a small cat.

The problem was that none of my regular journeys take me anywhere near a bank during working hours to get the bloody things exchanged. I could have gone out on a special mission to solve this problem, but that would have meant a tedious Shire-to-Mount-Doom walking saga or a £1.20 subway ticket, reducing the net gain to 80p.

Say what you like about Robert Wringham but he doesn’t get out of bed for that kind of money. Or any other kind of money, admittedly.

I’d have to wait to chance upon an open bank and then pounce. But after nine months, I was beginning to think I’d have to carry these coins forever and that they’d end up weighing my eyelids down when I languish in my coffin.

Knowing my luck, I’d arrive on the banks of the Styx, proffering my coins to the boatman only to be told, “sorry mate, I can’t accept these.”

Lamenting the situation in the pub one night, Spencer offered to buy my two pound coins for £1. Well, he’d love that wouldn’t he? I’d sooner sling them into a field.

Originally, the problem was not mine but my wife’s. They sat on her bedside table for a couple of months until I decided, completely irrationally, to make them my business. I gave her a pair of new, spendable coins in exchange and vowed to get rid of the old ones somehow.

Now here I am. Weighed down by this crappy shrapnel. And a riddle.

The supermarkets won’t take them, the nation’s vending machines were adapted far too efficiently for my liking, and I’m too decent to hoodwink a tramp.

Whenever I have this sort of practical problem, my dad is the person to whom I naturally go for advice, though I don’t for the life of me know why. It must be some sort of evolutionary vestige or an unconscious idea that mustaches are good in a crisis.

You know what my dad told me? He said that supermarket trolleys still accept them.

Yes, I said, but then the trolley gives you them back. I suppose I could just abandon the coins in the trolley slots but then we’re essentially back to slinging them into a field aren’t we?

It crossed my mind that the “all currencies” charity box at the airport might be a good place to dispose of them. It’s one of those charity boxes where your coin spirals around on its side for a minute before plunging with a satisfying thud into a central abyss. At least then I’d have the pleasure of watching the coins roll around and around into the vortex of hopeless causes.

And that’s exactly what I’d have done if only I’d remembered to actually do it when we went to Paris via the airport in March. Instead, the two coins came all the way to France in my wallet, yes, and all the way back like a couple of pointless hitch-hikers. They probably cost the world their weight in airplane fuel.

Besides, the “all currencies” charity box welcomes legal currencies from anywhere in the world, not expired currencies. It would welcome the six-foot diameter of a Rey Stone, apparently, before these useless tokens-of-nothing.

Trying to look casual on Perth High Street this week, my mind drifted in the direction of the feckless coins and how, in a last-ditch attempt to do something useful with them, I could use them as a joke competition prize for the Patreon gang (“the two coins go to the first patron to send me the £1.99 shipping costs”) when suddenly, like an oasis in the desert, I spotted an HSBC. No mirage, I went inside and the clerk exchanged my coins.

I could not believe my luck. He didn’t even sigh or tell me to go fuck myself. The shitcoins are gone. Gone! Success!

Last night, suddenly remembering the sorcery of fungibility, I exchanged the two new pounds along with three of their fellows for a pint of beer, successfully converting so much shrapnel into a pleasantly dizzy feeling and a bladder full of wee. Economics is magic.