The old pound coin must not die unmourned – let’s see it off in style
At midnight on Sunday, everything changes for ever. The pound coin – the old, round, squat pound coin, as British as a blue passport or a bag of liver – will cease to become legal tender. The trusty pound coin, unlocker of vending machines, locker of lockers, will simply transform into scrap metal in your hands, replaced by a bimetallic interloper that looks as if it was designed by Fisher-price for a bet. You’re right to be brokenhearted about it.
Except you’re not brokenhearted about it. Nobody is. In an age where the slightest alteration to anything must contractually be met by oceans of fizzingly disproportionate outrage, the old pound coin is preparing to die unmourned. Not even the old mainstays have managed to kick up much of a fuss about its passing. Piers Morgan hasn’t wanged on about it on Twitter. Nigel Farage hasn’t hand-delivered a letter of complaint to the Royal Mint. Katie Hopkins hasn’t even found a way to sputter and fart about how its replacement somehow represents a state-mandated victory for Isis, even though that’s what she does for a living now.
Vegans aren’t on the warpath because, unlike polymer banknotes, nobody thought to splice cow DNA into the new coins. Men’s rights activists aren’t narked off because, unlike the new polymer tenners, the new coins haven’t just suddenly discovered that women exist. The only sliver of anger I have seen towards the new coins came a year ago from a Twitter user with 92 followers who wrote: “New pound coin can fuck off looks like a 2 pound coin and a 20p made a shit child.” That’s it.
Even shops don’t seem to mind that much.
The Federation of Small Businesses, Poundland and Tesco are all planning to carry on accepting the old pound coins after Sunday’s deadline has passed. They won’t be legal tender any more, but what the hell. Hand them over anyway and they’ll take them. Heck, if you haven’t got any old pound coins, they’ll take euros. Or bottle caps. Or buttons. It’s not like any of us will have much use for traditional currency after Donald Trump nukes us all into orbit next week anyway.
Perhaps the lack of fury over the change is because the pound coin is a relatively recent invention. It only came into being in the 80s.
I’m three years older than the pound coin, for instance, and I’m still young enough to just about carry off a trendy pair of jeans, provided they’ve been gusseted properly. When I was born (recently enough for me to still be able to derive enjoyment from solid food and some forms of music, remember) the pound coin must have seemed unthinkably futuristic. It must have been a threat to everyone’s way of life. Back then, people had been taught to pay for everything with endless furls of phlegm-coloured wallpaper, and so a small metal disc of commensurate value must have seemed like a dispatch from Skynet.
Or maybe this is just how life is now. First, our 10p coins shrank, then our 5p coins and our 50p coins. We have had 20 years to get used to bimetallic coins at this point, so we won’t all spend months fruitlessly trying to pop the middle bit out like we did when the £2 coin was introduced. Our banknotes won’t biodegrade any more, no matter how angrily we try to compost them. Perhaps we have suffered through so many changes in such a comparatively short amount of time that we’re all just labouring through a moderate case of outrage fatigue.
Well, enough is enough. The old pound coin isn’t dead yet – it is thought that we still have 500m of them stored away at home, despite the looming deadline – so it’s time to give it the sendoff it deserves. We may be cowering in an age of austerity, but we finally have an excuse to be frivolous. It’s time to spend these coins as if they’re going out of style.
The passing of the old pound coin is an opportunity for you to be the truest version of yourself possible. If you’re in any way philanthropic, you can donate your stock of coins to any of the numerous charities who are requesting them. If you’re a historian, you can tape them to the inside of a notebook – like my nextdoor neighbours did at the dawn of decimalisation – even though nobody will ever take any pleasure from looking at them in the future.
Bit of a bell-end? Wait until Monday and then tip a waitress with them. Want your kids to realise the innate cruelty of life on Earth? Shove them under their pillow on Sunday night and then shrug when they discover that the tooth fairy has defrauded them out of a windfall. Slightly overweight and delusional enough to think that chocolate bought with nearly defunct money won’t cause you to gain any weight? The country’s vending machines need you.
I’m not going to tell you which of these I am, but there are six Topic bars on platform 5 of my local train station that have absolutely got my name written all over them. This is the round pound’s last gasp. It’s up to you to fritter it away on pretty much nothing. It’s what it would have wanted.
We won’t have much use for old currency after Donald Trump nukes us into orbit
will simply transform metal in into scrap your hands’