Monday, 2 August 2010

In praise of small things- part 2 - Two pound coins

Continuing with the 'seven things' task, and at the risk of portraying myself as either a miser or a lunatic I'd like to pay homage to the wonder of the two pound coin.
Before I start though, it's probably best to clear up one thing - yes, I know the title of this post was potentially misleading - I could have been writing about a pair of one pound coins, or even some very heavy coinage, but my desired clarity was hampered by my keyboard. For some reason, the solution to which is beyond the technological brain power of either me or my beloved, I cannot find the key on my laptop that types the symbol for one pound sterling. Dollars yes, percentages, quotation marks, ampersands - yes. But from the key that says it's a pound sign, all I get is a #.
I could, as someone is likely to point out, have searched for a pound sign from somewhere else, copied and pasted it in - but to be honest, life is too short. So for the rest of this post, wherever I've put a #, please read that as a pound - and I'll just apologise in advance to all the twitterers that I'm bound to confuse.
So, to be clear, my intent is to describe my affection, if that's not too strong a word, for the object that, in a single coin, offers two #'s worth of spending power.
Like many well-brought-up children from a not overly-affluent background, the importance of saving was instilled in me at an early age. To this day, I am more inclined to agree with the spirit of Mr Banks' 'tuppence prudently invested' than the bird-lady's  frivolous invitation to squander said tuppence on a bag of bird seed (the Disney film of Mary Poppins has set many of the standards for my adult life - but that's another post).
When I was about eleven years old, I had a cardboard box, with a slit cut out of the top, into which I deposited large proportions of my pocket money. I had a plan to go to America, confident that when I got there I would meet David Cassidy and then somehow convince him that he wanted to marry me.
My youthful, naive, confidence in the institution of marriage, the reliability of pop stars and my own levels of irresistibility were naturally all dashed in due course, but the pleasure of saving has stayed with me.
I'm not talking about the sensible grown-up approach of setting up a direct debit to transfer a chunk of your salary to a tax-free ISA before you even see it, but the task of actually taking coins from your purse and stashing them away.
Over the years I've always had a penny jar or its equivalent - ranging from an empty spaghetti jar on the telephone table to a blue and white faux-ming vase on the bathroom windowsill. We've had a  flower-painted jug for the money that sometimes re-appeared from the depths of the sofa, and the cardboard tube from a Laphroaig whisky bottle for late night pocket-emptying in the bedroom.
The problem with all of these is that it takes years and years to fill any of the receptacles and then, at some point, you have to decide what to do with the coins. This used to mean begging the tolerance of a world-weary bank clerk as I off-loaded my carefully separated and counted out bags of money. But the introduction of the #2 coin in 1998 brought a whole new approach.
What can I say about the pleasure and ease of collecting #2 coins?  The combination of gold and silver, and their resemblance to chocolate money at Christmas makes them look like treasure. There aren't too many in circulation, so when you get one it feels special and you know you have to save it. And even if you only get one every now and then, they accumulate quickly into quite-a-lot-of-money.
And then you get to actually spend it.
No more sighing bank clerks. Staff in shops are happy for you to count out the shiny special coins in exchange for their goods. How do I know this? Well....
....earlier this year, in celebration of my far-too-big-a-number-to-be-named birthday, we had a whole day out on the contents of the #2 coin collection. All day, everything we bought was paid for with coins - our train tickets, our coffee at the station, our lunch, a new belt for my jeans and a splendid heart-shaped fruit bowl. Admittedly, my bag was quite heavy at the start of the day, but our glow of satisfaction increased as the weight lessened.
I've started saving again and the special coin bag is rapidly filling. Philip has a big birthday in six years time - I reckon by then we'll be able to have a really big adventure courtesy of the #2 coin.


Baglady said...

How lovely! Makes me want to start collecting them (as I just seem to end up with a bag of copper that amounts to nothing and no-one wants).

Wonder if I have any in my purse now..

Pat said...

My husband puts his coins in a very heavy redundant ash tray and I'm afraid I help myself.

Liz said...

We have 1$ coins affectionately called loonies (after the picture of the loon on the coin - not to be confused with the queen, of course). We throw loonies into the loonie bin and, you're right, it is a great way to save.

Shrinky said...

My kids have also taken to collecting coins (unfortunately mostly from my purse, which I've taken to hiding..)

When my eldest daughter asked me to help cash up the coppers from her jar at the bank (for a school trip), it took a good half hour to count out the full tenner's worth - split beteeen the time it took between the three gathered together to count it, it had to come waaaaaaaaay below minimum wage, but there you go - at least she kinda' "saved" something, eh? (wink)