Penny for’um


Image courtesy of West Midlands Express & Star

It is exactly Fifty years since the British Isles embraced decimalization of the currency: Pounds, shillings and pennies morphed into coinage of lesser value, smaller notes and for those too young to grasp the logic of 240 old pence comprising a Pound, a shattering relief the new system was at least comprehensible.

Everything in 1971 seemed woefully old fashioned. A penny for your thoughts might have seemed hyper inflated while inconceivably dated customs appeared impenetrably set into the decade’s foundations as the general weight of sombre deference crushed innovation, spontaneity and joie’d vie.

Then, on Fifteenth February (the Ides of February!) all changed in the nation’s pockets and purses. We checked Hansard: it was a Monday and all that’s recorded is The House met at half past Two o’clock. One might have thought Chancellor of the Exchequer, Anthony Barber would have had something to observe or remark, but who are we to judge?

In the intervening years, the shilling* the tooth fairy once left has doubtless been superceded by a Fiver and the hape’ny which went the way of the Dodos isn’t missed. [For those of a nervous disposition, look away now. They withdrew the half-penny in …. 1984.] [* For those of an ancient disposition, it might actually have been a Sixpence: which transformed into 2½p, somehow.]

The 1970s bridged the United Kingdom into a different age. It suddenly seems a very long ago. Just have a squint at this sizzling promo!

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