We can all look forward to a handsome pension and understand the money in today’s world, can’t we? Our columnist Steve Tucker asks the questions on the minds of middle aged people.
A sure sign one is getting older is a problem with money.
Now, I’m not talking about not having any money. That is a given. I currently calculate I will have to work till I am 104 before retiring on a pension pot of £2.50 a year which will barely keep me in Werther’s Originals, let alone allow me to do something extravagant like pay the gas bill.
Indeed, when I idly picture retirement, it is not so much about playing golf on the Algarve, but sitting on a sofa watching Cash In The Attic dressed like Captain Oates before he ‘just stepped outside for a moment’.
No, on those rare opportunities when I do have money, the problem has become identifying just which coin and note is which.
Now, confusion about something so simple as using money was something I always associated with wizened old ladies, bent double at the checkout in the Co-Op counting out coins so slowly that the microwave lasagne you were buying had actually gone out of date by the time you got to pay. I pictured retired Sergeant Majors demanding the Government bring back the florin and hanging.
But incredibly I have now found myself floundering in a similar predicament.
For a start the new 5p piece is too small, when I say too small I mean it is the size of an atom or an electron or a quark or some other science term I have no idea about, but which I assume is rather small. On a similar theme, there is now talk of phasing out the 1p and 2p coin. All fine and dandy, but what the hell are McDonalds going to pay their staff with now?
Even the new pound coin is rubbish. Now, I’m old enough to remember the one pound note. It was an inspiring symbol of when Britain had an empire and travelled around the globe dispensing wisdom and enlightenment to native peoples, before cutting down their palm trees and throttling them.
Back in the 1970s I recall the pound note was something fine indeed with the image of our noble Queen on one side and a picture of Mr T from the A-team on the other.
It is gone now, but even the old pound coin was acceptable. It was solid and eye-catching with the phrase: ‘You can’t even buy a bag of crisps with this anymore’ proudly embossed on its edge in Latin. I hate the two pound coin too. It seems kind of unnecessary and fake as if the Royal Mint had released Kim Kardashian into the general population.
While I’m grumbling, the new £5 note and £10 note are like Monopoly money and, post-Brexit, will carry about the same value.
It’s not just the hassle of identifying our cash, though. We are now being told by the media that there are coins currently in circulation worth loads more than their face value. A 50p coin bearing the image of Simon Cowell shouting at a waiter sold for £5,000 on eBay recently and one commemorating Winston Churchill’s nasal hair went for an astronomical sum too.
Now, I find spending money stressful enough already without worrying I’m giving away the deposit on a flat every time I buy a pack of chewing gum and while I am on the subject of commemorative coins there are too many of those nowadays as well.
Back in the day, the Royal Mint would perhaps trot one out for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee or to mark Princess Margaret’s fifth gin and tonic of the day. Now they are everywhere, and it looks like there is no end to it with a series of 50p coins planned to mark what is surely ironically being called ‘the Best of British.’
So here is a sneak peek at some of the 50p coins currently shortlisted:
*The Margaret Thatcher coin – An OK coin, but steals the rest of your money then closes your pocket permanently.
*The Russian Spy coin – It seems fine at first, but then releases a deadly nerve toxin in Spar when you are paying for a sausage roll.
*The British First coin – When you try to pay, it refuses to be handed to an Asian shopkeeper.
*The Jamie Carragher coin – No problems until you get on the bus and it spits in the driver’s face.
*The Jeremy Kyle coin – Pays for everything OK, then sleeps with your mother. And sister. And dog.