Our daughter was strolling around in 24° temperatures in Madrid last weekend. My sister, who admittedly lives in the south of Spain, has been posting photos on Facebook of her small grandson playing on the beach. Summer has perhaps arrived early, well, in some parts of Spain at least.
Here we just have indications of spring: the frogs are back in the ponds alongside the Donkey Line bridle path, croaking away and filling the water with frogspawn.
We’re hardly into shorts and tee-shirt weather here yet, but I did see someone put and about in sandals earlier today.
The aforementioned trip to Madrid went very well by all accounts. I like to think that my bit of linguistic assistant, phoning Madrid on their behalf, made a bit of difference. One likes to feel one has been useful after all! Our grandson did his bit too, scoring 5 out of 7 in his chess competition, giving him 4th place in his age group. Had he come 3rd, he would have received a huge trophy to bring back to school. Our daughter was disappointed for him but I found myself thinking about luggage weight restrictions and thinking that perhaps it was just as well he came 4th.
Still, our daughter now has another experience to add to her CV. She has been initiated into the delights of organising and supervising residential trips abroad. As she described the noise issuing from the bedrooms of the school (from another part of the UK) that accompanied them on the trip – largely the result of their teachers’ deciding to go out for evening drinks, leaving only one member of their staff to keep the bedtime peace – I recalled that feeling of satisfaction when it’s not YOUR school causing havoc. I particularly remember being approached on a cross-Channel hovercraft by a hostess who informed me, somewhat acidly, that my girls were being ill in the ladies’ toilets. When I got down there I discovered that the girls who were busy throwing up all over the place were not MY girls at all but pupils from a rather posh establishment that had shared accommodation with us and looked down us “oiks” from the north of England. It was with great pleasure that I told the hostess that it was nothing to do with me. Such are the small triumphs of the teaching profession!
Today I discovered that they are going to introduce a new pound coin with a new fancy design. Apparently there are 45 million fake pound coins in circulation (about 3% of the total number) and they hope that this new coin will be harder to forge. It will be a twelve-sided shape that will make it hard to copy and will have two different coloured metals in its make-up.
But there’s more. This super-coin possesses what the Royal Mint calls an “Integrated Secure Identification Systems”, or iSIS, to give it that lofty ring of Apple-Mac-meets-classical-mythology. All high-tech stuff that makes genuine coins easy to detect and almost impossible to forge.
The new shape is, in fact, an old shape based on the old threepenny bit or thrupenny bit as it’s traditionally pronounced around here. This one was last minted in 1967 and then went out of circulation in 1971 when the UK went decimal.
The official line is that the old threepenny bit, a quarter of the old shilling, would now be worth just over one (new) penny. I wonder, however, if the choice of shape says something about the value of the current pound!
Or am I just being pessimistic.