Last Thursday, I went up to London for the day. What a treat for a country boy! Took the train from Bath Spa Station at 10.12 and arrived at Paddington about 90 minutes later, ready to do my business in the big bad city and get home again before I was knifed or shot dead.
(I'm just kidding. I know that nobody gets knifed or shot in London. Well, not unless they are members of a gang. But hold on - that doesn't make sense! Don't people join gangs for protection and a sense of security? And yet it's mostly people in gangs who get shot and knifed. Might it not be safer not to join a gang? Look - I'm only a country boy. Don't listen to me.)
So there I was, in London, last Thursday, up from the country. But before I had left the country, I had gone to an ATM in the small Wiltshire town of Winsley to get some money out, so that when I got to London and someone said to me: "Give me all your money!" ( a mugger ... a taxi driver ... a Big Issue seller...) I would be able to cough up.
(No, of course, you don't know where Winsley is. Don't worry your little cotton socks about it. As long as you don't leave London, you won't need to know. You won't need to know where Wiltshire is, either, bless you.)
And what the ATM in Wins-ley gave me was a handful of blue/mauve things I had never seen before. For a moment I panicked. Had they given me euros? Book tokens? Luncheon vouchers? Then I noticed that the words "Bank of England" were on them, and the figures "[pound]20" and the face of the Queen, and I suddenly tumbled - these were the new [pound]20 notes that had been mentioned in the national press, with the face of Adam Smith instead of Edward Elgar, trying to get us used to having a Scottish economist in charge before Gordon gets there.
The face of the Queen was still on the note, of course, looking about fifty, instead of thirty as she really is, as you will know if you have ever looked at a British postage stamp. But otherwise the note was an …