Donald MacInnes: Money, money, money – my multiple currency adventure

In The Red
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The Independent Online

What is the highest number of different currencies you ever used in one 48-hour period? I should stress it has to be actual money. Don't include the time you bribed your missus with the rest of the Maltesers so she would let you watch an old episode of TheProfessionals.

As regards disparate currencies, my personal best was last weekend. Between Friday night and Sunday night I used four. Now, that might suggest to you that I'm some sort of departure lounge lizard, who sports tight Italian slacks, drives a yellow Lotus and advertises Dunhill lighters, but I'm really not.

I flew to Dublin on Friday to meet her ladyship, who had gone there a day earlier on business. I bought some euros and we spent many of them on a dark beverage that subsequently led us to sing songs about someone called Molly Malone.

Next morning, we boarded a train to Belfast, sore of bonce. Two hours later, we were changing our euros into Northern Irish "sterling". I put "sterling" in inverted commas simply because, while these notes may feature that word prominently and be legal tender in the rest of Great Britain – as well as in Ulster – like Scottish notes, their UK usefulness is limited. I would often return to London from a trip to Glasgow with Royal Bank of Scotland notes and my local shopkeepers are probably still laughing at me for trying to, you know, use them to buy stuff.

Due to this parochial nonsense, we had to change our Northern Irish sterling into "proper" sterling for our flight home on Sunday morning.

Back at work on Monday, I was so chuffed with my multiple currency experience that I told everyone, but was met with scepticism – our default setting here. Thankfully, I had missed one Northern Bank tenner, which was hiding in a cranny of my trouser pocket (you'd think I would have noticed it, given how tight my slacks are), so I was able to present that to the doubters.

In triumph, I marched to the canteen, where I tried to feed the note into one of the snack machines. It spat the errant tenner at my feet.

"Don't waste my time," it sneered in its robotic monotone. "Anyway," it demanded, "what about the fourth currency? You said you used four in one weekend."

"Sunday night," I said, turning away. "Monopoly."

So, there you have it. Four currencies in 48 hours. If you think you can beat that, you know where I am.

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