OLIVER PRITCHETT IT JUST OCCURRED TO ME... I WANT TO SIGN UP
Cheques are on their way out and we are now told that they will probably disappear by 2018. This is bad news for that other endangered species, the signature, which is already being shoved aside by the PIN and the password. Our signature is still part of our identity and signing a cheque is a rare opportunity to give it an outing. There is a sense of occasion about it and a feeling that it actually matters. We take trouble deciding what our signature will look like – after all, we will be stuck with it for most of our lives. Some people produce a minimalist illegible squiggle, but I bet an awful lot of thought originally went into that squiggle. Having a name that begins with S or Q or Z gives plenty of scope for stylish strokes of the ballpoint and I sometimes wonder if people consider the signature potential when they choose names for their children. Would Zoe make a better autograph than Antonia? Shall we call him Xerxes and buy him an italic pen? When signing a cheque in a shop, under the eyes of the assistant, you need a selfconfident flourish to convey the message that there really are sufficient funds in the account, but sometimes I concentrate so hard on the flourish that I get halfway through my surname and suddenly get a mental block about what comes next. Soon, the only time we will need to give our signature will be on a lease or on a last will and testament. And, of course, when the delivery man comes to the door and says “Sign here, please.” But that’s a slapdash affair. And when the man hands you a small electronic box and asks you to sign with a stylus on a screen, it’s a disaster. That’s not my signature, that’s a picture of a worm falling downstairs.