... but I stopped. Now I'm a dad, and may blog again...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

153: Ulster Bank versus Bank of England

Feeling festive and tired... both of those words are obvious euphemisms for drunk.  A particular kind of warm and appealing drunk; Guinness at the airport, whiskey on the plane (served from a sachet like tomato ketchup), and too many large glasses of red wine at the in-laws (can I call them in-laws yet?  Not sure, but can’t think of a single word meaning ‘girlfriend’s family’).  Over in the land where Sterling is issued by the Bank of Ulster, and other such imaginary institutions. 

I’m looking at an Ulster Bank £20 note (what will they think of next!), and it really is the most boring design of ‘paper’ currency I have ever seen.  The recto is passable with its trinity of views (Giant’s Causeway, and two other places... please tell me what they are so I don’t remain ignorant), but the verso (anyone appreciate my pretentious use of obscure printing and art terminology?)  is almost a blank piece of paper.  It’s mostly un-printed, has no layering, background or foreground; it’s laughable in its simplicity.  It’s a clich√© but it really does look like Monopoly money.  For reference to what money should look like see the Bank of England £10 note and its noble portrait of great Briton Charles Darwin.  Has Northern Ireland produced no great minds or achievers of that calibre?  George Best doesn’t count (see Ulster Bank fiver).

A quick look at wikipedia’s page on Pound sterling shows Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man can issue decent quality, fairly well designed, proper-looking banknotes.  So why has Ulster failed so massively with this weird looking ugly minimalist monster?  Surely the six Ulster counties comprising Northern Ireland can muster the historical and cultural importance to fill both sides of a pocket-sized piece of paper.  Anyway what gives me the right to be so snotty about such an insignificant thing?  Am I arrogantly perching on Darwin’s shoulder, like a stuffed finch, and pretending to cultural superiority based on one man’s greatness and my wonderful sub-countries steadfast foresight in championing him?  A google search for an image of the Ulster £20 I am holding turns up nothing.  There seems to be a million different styles and designs of note issued in Ulster by various banks.  It seems like anyone who fancies a go can issue currency in Northern Ireland.

Last time I was here there were amazing plastic see-through fivers.  I have no idea if they are still doing the rounds, nor do I know what the point of them was/is.  Surely it can’t be a water-proofing thing since ‘paper‘ money already is water-proof, being made as they are mostly out of cotton.  Was it just a brave if misguided attempt at seeming more futuristic than the rest of Britain (and by that I mean of course England)?

So I arrive in Northern Ireland, have a nice relaxing evening, drinking eating and chatting, and what is the first thing I think of doing?  Slagging of the place in a public forum... what is wrong with me?

Best note ever.  You are allowed to disagree, if you want to be wrong.

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