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My note of caution on plastic spondulicks

HMMM, lovely jubbly!

One of life's slightly improper joys is holding a folding wad of banknotes.

True, we don'tt do it so much now, particularly since larger purchases are usually made with plastic, as in cards. But it could all go plastic soon, after the Bank of England announced i was going to start issuing polymer fivers in 2016, to be followed by tenners a year later.

As you know, the Bank of England is actually the Bank of Britain (we own a share of it) and, as for the "Scottish" banks and their ironically autonomous notes, doubtless they'll soon follow suit.

Britainshire itself is only following 20-odd countries around yonder world which have already adopted polymer notes. Australia was first to go fully plastic and has been issuing polymer notes since 1988.

So, what's the big deal? I can see right into your cynical mind from here and you're thinking: "The evil capitalist swine will just be doing it to save money, as usual."

That is a fair point, eloquently put. But they could be saving money in more than one sense. And they do have other reasons.

First, and probably foremost, there's security. It's harder to counterfeit plastic because it's more difficult to print on, and the polymer substrate isn't readily available at Homebase or B&Q.

In addition, the notes can have "clear" windows, which will actually contain "optical variable devices" — I see; actually, I don't but let it pass — that split light into its component colours, ken? If ye dinnae ken, the important point is that it's damned hard, as I'm sure you've discovered, to forge an optical variable device.

It's easy, on the the hand, to leave vast wads of cash in your onesie as you bung it in the washing machine. With plastic notes, you need weep no more on discovering your error. They'll be fine.

Plastic notes are more environmentally friendly as they last longer, so fewer need to be reproduced, and they can be recycled. They're also more hygienic, as they absorb fewer bacteria from citizens who wash infrequently or who, in rural areas, leap about in manure for much of the day.

Every giant leap for mankind is accompanied by a lot of moaning, and leading complainers haven't been slow in raising objections to this one. When Canada introduced polymer notes in 2011, some leading intellectuals believed they were infused with the scent of maple syrup.

No one was sure why. Perhaps to increase sales of the controversial gloop. However, investigations by top experts found no evidence for the claims.

The fear that they'd melt on hot days hasn't fared much better, though doubts about their slippiness, stickiness and foldability have found more backers.

Although adduced as a benefit, it's sad that you can't scribble on plastic notes. I'd never normally condone vandalism, but I always loved the cartoon bubble added to a stirring depiction on a Scottish banknote of the Battle of Bannockburn.

It featured the Bruce on a charger, hemmed in by his own men pressing behind him as they prepared to blooter our beloved friends from the south (God, this political correctness gets tiresome sometimes).

Unfortunately, the pike-bearing troops had particularly glaikit expressions on their faces, and some bright spark in the populace altered the stirring scene perfectly by attributing to Bruce the words: "Stoap shovin', will ye!"

I've met three people who claim to be the originator of the line. I was going to say I'll give a crisp, paper fiver to the real creator of the joke but must rescind that offer, what with Christmas coming up an' all.

If the Scottish banks do go plastic, they should bring back the Bruce, perhaps with a pre-printed caption: "God, I love England", or something similarly PC. "Proud Scot but …" might also appeal to many of today's self-proclaimed patriots.

The Bank of Englandshire is going for Winston Churchill followed by Jane Austen. Their quotes are ready-made. "Money is the best recipe for happiness," said Mary Crawford in Mansfield Park.

Churchill added: "Money is like manure - it's only good if you spread it around."

That man obviously spent way too much time in the countryside.

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