The old pound coin must not die un­mourned – let’s see it off in style

The Guardian - G2 - - Shortcuts - Stu­art Her­itage

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’

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