Letter: Time for change

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The Independent Culture
Sir: As we enter 1999, the issue of Britain's participation in European monetary union is still in the headlines. Yet before such a decision is made, isn't it time we had British monetary union?

Those presenting Scottish banknotes often find they get suspicious glances in England. However, one evening as I was returning from a trip to Northern Ireland, I found myself unable to spend Northern Irish (sterling) notes at Victoria Station. Neither the ticket office nor a succession of snack bars wanted to take the cash a Belfast hole in the wall had given me. I was told that they could take Scottish notes, but that Ulster money was "too foreign."

Eventually, in a state of despair, I headed for the bureau de change. I explained that the money I had was "too foreign" for me to use and asked if they could change it into some Bank of England notes for me. However, I was told that, as it was British money, they wouldn't change it for me. I would have to wait until the following morning and change it in a bank. Clearly the money was "not foreign enough".

Is joining the euro the only way to eliminate these "little local difficulties"?