by the Rambler 18/01/2002
Euro panic! we remember the `change' of 1971
THERE was a lot of speculation in the papers lately about how older people in countries affected would cope with the introduction of the Euro. Didn't' we (the older people) cope all right in 1971 when a dozen or more well-loved coins were replaced by pounds and pence, with even the one-pound note and its "halfbrother", the ten shilling note, also dumped?
We lost 'the crown' (five shillings) piece, often termed 'the dollar'. Also, the halfcrown (half-dollar) piece; the florin (two shilling piece), the 'bob' (one shilling piece), the 'tanner' (sixpenny piece), the 'kids eye' (three penny) piece, and of course the 'wing' (one penny) coin, and the 'make' (ha'penny) coin.
The guinea (21 shilling) term survived in the horse-sales field, but the golden guinea coin, alias the sovereign, and the half-sovereign, also become obsolete. Time was when the 'make' bought something, but the ha'penny pencil and the ha'penny bar (of toffee) are only faintly remembered. Nowadays, the new-penny, worth (two-point-four) old pennies, is mostly discarded at the shop counter, to end up in some of the charity boxes on display. Worse still, they lie around in the gutter, as even kids discard them.
Tell some child that a penny and an orange were what Santa used to leave in stockings, and they will treat it as a joke. Their expectation is a computer! I can still recall the thrill that I got when Santa left me a gaily-striped bugle. Before Christmas Day was far advanced, I had been banished to the barn to give my mother's head peace!.
To people of the late nineteenth century, who chatted around the kitchen-fire in my childhood, the Queen's shilling was a big talking point. When misery reigned with no money and no work to be had, army recruiting sergeants, who were in business to persuade fit men to join up, and had to sell the Queen's shilling. A 'victim' wasn't hooked until he had accepted that. The moral was to avoid being talked into acceptance, otherwise one was a prisoner to be marched off to the war.
A Kilmore man, the late Ned Kerr, was cited locally as a prime example. Reputedly, with a feed of drink in him, Ned had recklessly signed up for the Queen's shilling and gone off with his captor to Lurgan Castle where the army had possession during the war, the 1914/18 war.
When Ned sobered up in the morning, and realised his predicament, he took off 'in his sock soles' around the lake, pursued by a 'big black fella' (Ned's term) who got him by the scruff of the neck and marched him back, to be togged out in khaki.
Now that story wouldn't sound half as good, if Ned were to accept one of these new-fangled Euros (or more accurately, one Euro divided by twenty).
Do army recruiters still hand out five P. the equivalent of Queen Victoria's shilling? I'll have to reach for a calculator if we go Euro! Watch this column.