Decimalisation

Back to LSD

The Euro has, to a large extent, been a failed experiment. Perhaps it is now time to reconsider our own currency blunder. Talking of the old pennies made me regret the passing of LSD - pounds (£ or L), shillings (s) and pence (d) – in 1971. Sadly, the most wonderful thing about the old coinage has gone for ever. I can remember the great feeling of history encompassed by every handful of coins. Not only were many of the pennies, halfpennies, farthings and florins (2 shilling coins) Victorian (I can’t remember seeing a Victorian half-crown in circulation), many of them were old enough to bear the portrait of Victoria as a young woman. Such pennies were called ‘bun pennies’ because she wore her hair in a bun.

Decimalisation was introduced for the convenience of modern computerised systems. The irony is that, if the politicians had foreseen the rapid increase cheap computing power, they would have seen no need for the move. Modern tills, computers, etc. would convert LSD to dollars, Yen, or what have you in the blink of an eye. The retention of the old currency would have helped to retain at least a pretence of mental arithmetic amongst the population. Now that is gone – students are even allowed to take calculators into exams these days.

The main objection to a return to LSD is that the original conversion stimulated a lot of inflation as shopkeepers rounded prices up. This would still be a danger moving in the other direction, but a lesser one, since one would be converting each p into 2.4 d, allowing the less greedy merchants to round down as easily as round up.

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