I Promise To Pay
The Bearer On Demand...
I weaved my wheeled
shopping bag through Londons Threadneedle
Street, avoiding the approaching herds of
reindeer and flocks of camels.
The imposing fašade of the
Bank of England soon rose before me. I went
inside and approached the reception desk.
Can I speak to Andrew
Bailey? I said.
Have you come about
those notes he signed? enquired the
I removed a bundle of twenty pound notes from my
pocket. It says on these that Mr Bailey
promises to pay the bearer on demand the sum
listed. I pointed to the phrase.
Its just that with all the financial
uncertainty at present, I thought it might be
wise to exchange them for the actual wealth they
It was rather rash of
him to commit to that in writing, sighed
the receptionist. What sort of wealth would
you like to exchange them for?
I hadnt thought
about that, I admitted. What sorts
Its all about
finding things that have some generally agreed
intrinsic value, she explained.
Animals are very popular because you can
ride them, eat them, use their skins for clothes,
and you can breed more. She consulted her
computer screen. There arent many
cattle, sheep, reindeer or camels left, but I
could let you have some elephants.
I live in a one
bedroomed flat, I said. Have you got
Bars of precious
metals used to be in demand, but since the price
fell you get rather a lot, and theyre very
brought this small, wheeled shopping bag, I
explained, and Ive also got a bad
back, so I dont want to be lifting ingots.
What else is there?
In some parts of the
world, women are considered as property and
indicators of wealth, she replied.
Mind you, thats not PC in twenty-first
century Britain, so you wouldnt be
interested in the virgin slave girls.
Virgin slave girls?
One of the worst
purchase decisions Andy ever made on the
convertible currency markets. He exchanged a
thousand herds of perfectly good South American
llamas for two hundred harems. The
receptionist shook her head in despair. Now,
weve any number of young, attractive,
obedient, scantily clad virgins that nobody wants.
concurred. Just out of interest, what price
are they fetching?
She again consulted the
computer. Currently, one hundred pounds
I think its
important to diversify an investment portfolio.
I said. Perhaps it would be wise to buy
Its up to you,
although theres significant volatility in
the market. You could find their value plummets
tomorrow, and your investment would be of no
value for anything other than mindless, non stop
I watched others leaving
the Bank with animals, cloth, jewels and spices
from distant exotic lands, and I considered my
I counted out my bank notes.
Ill have four virgins and an elephant,
please, I concluded.
That evening, I looked from
my bedroom window to the parking space outside my
flat where faithful Jumbo was settling down for
the night. I then glanced at my bed where my
remaining assets were safely stored.
I reflected on the benefits
of wealth in tangible form and wondered how paper
currency had ever caught on.