Has anyone out there been in possession of a five-pound note recently which didn't resemble the ragged specimen I picture at the top of this post?
The picture itself doesn't actually do this one justice; it is actually far tattier in the 'flesh' than it looks, to the extent that you could be forgiven for suspecting that it was a crude and artless forgery, printed on low grade tissue paper.
In fact, it reminded me very strongly of a school trip to Italy in the early seventies, when I remember being shocked by the tattiness of virtually every 500 Lire note (yes, it was a very long time ago!) I saw during excursions to places as varied as Milan, Naples, Capri, Rome, Pisa and Pompeii.
As I grew up, I began to think that the state of those Italian banknotes was symptomatic of a currency, an economy and possibly, even a country which had lost pride and faith in itself; it was a symbol of financial collapse.
Is the state of our smallest banknote a harbinger of similar things to come in England?
Or is it just that the banks won't put them in cash machines anymore, because it's not worth their while to dispense them, or more cynically, part of the softening up process required for the replacement of the five pound note with a new, shiny replacement £5 coin?
Or is it a combination of all three?
All I know is that whilst I wouldn't mind having a wheelbarrow full of ragged notes such as the one I depict, I can't remember the last time I had a crisp, relatively unscathed fiver in my pocket.
Anyone care to differ? And if so, where did you lay your hands on them?