Britain’s bonfire of the banknotes continues. First, we said bye-bye to Elizabeth Fry on the fiver. Meanwhile, our old £10 notes featuring Charles Darwin were gradually replaced by ones featuring Jane Austen since September 2017. (The year corresponded to the 200th anniversary of Austen’s death.) The new notes are polymer, which lasts longer than paper, but feels decidedly strange to the touch, still.
From today, shops are entitled to refuse to take the Charles Darwin. The Bank of England estimated that there were around £2 billion worth of old notes still in circulation. So, either Britons will have spent Thursday 1 March on a spending spree (which given the state of the weather, might have been a challenge), or they will find their paper notes unwanted in the brave new plastic future.
Anyone who does find the evolutionary genius lurking down the back of the sofa will need to trail along to their local bank (or the Bank of England, which will accept old currency ad infinitum) to exchange it.
Just in case you spent today mourning the passing of Charles Darwin, reflect for a moment on the fact that the first day of spring also saw the introduction of new coins. A new series of designs for the ten-pence piece appeared. There are 26 designs — one for each letter of the alphabet — aimed at celebrating British life. According to Anne Jessopp, chief executive at The Royal Mint: “These designs were selected because we feel they represent a diverse mix of elements that make up the country we all love.”
So, you can go from A for Angel of the North to Z for Zebra Crossing via James Bond and the Loch Ness Monster, pausing for a moment on your journey to celebrate the fact that, yes, Q is for Queueing. Doesn’t get more British than that.
PS: The Q’ll only set you back thirty-five quid.