Friday 4 July 2008

Sliding backwards to the fifties

14st 2lb (oh dear, oh dear, oh dear); 5.6 units of alcohol yesterday; 1,311; Papua New Guinea.

This is getting very bad. It gets worse when all that I can cite as the highlight of my day was listening to the repeat of Desert Island Discs in the bath this morning, marvelling that the creator of those grotesque “Bear” cartoons from the early days of The Sun could sound so incredibly upmarket, and revelling in her choices of the old, four volume London telephone directory as her book (such a wonderful source for characters, obviously) and the Crown Jewels as her luxury (on the grounds that people would probably come looking for them).

I had allowed this blog to slip for the best part of two weeks as I agonized over how rude I should allow myself to be about some absolute tosser I had met at Glyndebourne. It’s not that I give a flying f*** what said tosser would think, in the unlikely event that he ever read it, but I do not want to give needless offence to the people who introduced him to me in the first place. Then I thought: to hell with it. So I spent much of the day getting that and various other things out of my system and I must say that I greatly enjoyed it, even if no-one else ever will. That’s the thing about blogging. It’s a bit like masturbation, only with a much lower outlay on tissues.

I also spent a bit of time pondering the mystery of the cashless society; a train of thought which pulled out of the station as a result of sending my godson a set of the Royal Mint’s new “jigsaw” coins, whose lack of numerals should at least help to restore that fine old tradition of the British coinage: confusing foreigners. As a small boy, I felt very deprived when I realized that so many of my contemporaries had been given sets of coins for the year of their birth in 1953 or 1954, while I had not (I had to buy my own when I was about 40). So I have tended to mark births or christenings by donating proof sets of our now sadly debased and dumbed-down currency. The last time I did so, a mother wrote to express particular gratitude because they would be a thing of the unimaginable past by the time her daughter was old enough to appreciate them. Not, as I imagined, because she thought we would all be using the euro by then, but because coins and banknotes of any description would have become as much of a historical curiosity as those conch shells once regarded as a store of value in the South Seas.

All financial transactions would soon be electronic, she believed, and she might have a point. I have used £50 notes to pay for my share of various restaurant bills of late, and have found them picked up and passed around in wonderment by my companions, who had never seen the like before. And that was in London. Try to spend a £50 note in a legitimate retail or catering establishment in Northumberland, and I believe that they are more than likely to barricade themselves into a back room and call the police.

I am currently trying to run down my cache of £50 notes, which I have been carrying round ever since someone tipped me off years ago that I should always keep £1,000 in my wallet against the day that I felt the urge to make an impulse purchase of a top class whore. Being unbelievably suggestible, I immediately went to the bank and got the cash, telling them that I needed it for a drugs deal. Even though I haven never felt the urge to pay for a prostitute, and I think I can safely predict that I never will. Added to which, those who are better versed in these things than I am now laugh at the notion of £1,000 buying you anything top class. That doesn’t get you anything from the Harvey Nichols end of the market these days, old boy, they chuckle. Why we’re not even talking about the Marks & Spencer level. Maybe the equivalent of the Sainsbury’s “Be Bad To Yourself” range, if you’re lucky. And didn’t I know that all high class escorts took credit cards these days? Where have I been?

Well, stuck on a hilltop in Northumberland, mainly. Writing crap.

So the fifties can all be restored to the nation’s pool of circulating currency. Though I’m hanging onto my other stash of Royal Bank of Scotland oncers, planning to eke them out over many years as an apparently generous tip for taxi drivers and others who have earned my disfavour. When they finally run out, I may have to resort to the old Tommy Cooper trick of saying “Have a drink on me” as I slip something into their top pockets, which subsequently turns out to be a tea bag. My, how they will laugh.

These thoughts completed I ate too much, for a change, then cut the grass and watered the house plants in a sort of parody of domesticity.

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