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The polymer and the IOU

It's been a good week for ...

plastic money

Our tatty old bank notes are getting a makeover. You'd think you couldn't do much to improve on the original, other than make it go further. But the plans for sterling are drastic - plastic surgery, no less.

The Bank of England has announced it will introduce polymer bank notes in 2016. The first will be a fiver featuring Winston Churchill, who once famously said: "Money is like manure; it's only good if you spread it around."

I'm sure the smell of filthy lucre will be the same whatever it's made of.

It's been a bad week for ... virtual money

Hard cash - polymer, paper or just on an IOU note - can be fickle.

I admit that I like money of the old-school variety, preferably the kind you can fold up rather than drop. I'm sure plastic notes will just bend in the same old way.

These days the stuff in my purse seems to dwindle at an alarming rate, pilfered of a morning for bus fares, lunch money and various sundries (Lynx, mostly, and Orbit). Unfortunately, this purse-raiding tends to occur when I am not present. This means that the opening-of-purse-at-checkout moment can have its surprises, not normally nice ones.

"Do you take cards?" has become my favourite catch-phrase. Imagine my disquiet just the other day when I discovered that I had been disunited with my debit card. A quick check with my online banker offered reassurance that no-one had cleaned out my account ... and confirmed that the last time I'd used my card in a real shop was a week previously.

Fortunately, those nice people at the grocer round the corner had kindly filed my card under daft-woman-will-realise-eventually and I was able to retrieve it and avoid the hassle of cancelling it and ordering a new one.

What concerns me, though, is the fact that it took me an entire week to realise I'd lost the card in the first place. It would be nice to think that this was because I hadn't spent any money. No such luck. It's just that almost all of my Christmas shopping has been done online.

This is sad to admit and the more I think about it, the more Ebenezer I feel.

I think it's time I faced up to virtual reality.

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