Sunday, 14 June 2015

The old cloth bag

It was just one of those days yesterday.  As soon as I had walked the dog after breakfast, I had to set off for the Lions craft fair, at which I was to act as deputy assistant treasurer - or maybe it was assistant deputy treasurer - the club's treasurer being engaged all day on other club business.  But my boss had set me up well, providing me with the floats for the individual stalls and all I needed for collecting the money from the stalls after the event.  Included in the latter were a number of cloth coin bags as used by the banks.

It was these that sparked the memory.

It was more than 50 years ago that I started work in a High Street bank at a branch that served a lot of shops, many of which would come into the bank for change.  We gave out far more small change to the shopkeepers than they ever paid in so we had to bring in the coins from elsewhere.  'Elsewhere' was another branch of the bank across town, the branch at which the bus company paid in their takings, which were mainly coins.  And so, every once in a while, somebody in our branch - not me, I was only the junior - would engage the services of a lorry driver with an open, flat-bed lorry.  Two of us would trundle through town and load up several hundred bags of coins, bags containing £20 of pennies or £100 of silver coins, either sixpences (tanners), shillings (bobs), two-shilling pieces (florins) or half crowns (two shillings and six pence).  The bags for the pennies were blue, those for the silver being white.  And there were green bags for the threepenny bits.
Threepenny bit
There were no bags for pound coins back in those days as they, the coins, had not been introduced.  We still used pound notes.  And ten shilling notes.

Anyway, having loaded the back of the lorry, it was time to drive back to "my" branch - with me reclining on the coin bags on the back of the lorry doing my best to look as though I was riding shotgun!

A couple of years later I found myself at a different branch in a small country town which still calls itself a village.  Part of my duties involved manning the sub-branch in a smaller village a few miles away every Tuesday and Thursday morning.  I and a pensioner who was employed as my guard - really! - would catch the bus to and from the sub-branch.  At the end of the morning, all the cheques and paying-in slips and anything else would be packed into a brief case to take to the parent branch for processing.

From time to time, I would end up with more money at the sub-branch than I needed.  When that happened, the surplus would be taken back to the main branch with all the paperwork.  On the bus.  Bear in mind that the surplus could - and occasionally did - amount to £2500 and that this was in the days when £3000 would buy a three-bedroom, semi-detached house.  I had long decided that if anybody tried to snatch the brief case from me, they could have it and welcome.  Then it occurred to me that if I stuffed the notes into my pockets instead of the brief case, if the brief case should be snatched...

But of course it never happened.

The simplest things can stir up the most amazing memories.


joeh said...

But you were thinking outside the case.

Brighton Pensioner said...

But only briefly, Joe.