29/01/2020

The Other Side of the Coin


It says something about this country that there is more fuss about the grammar printed on the commemorative Brexit fifty pence coin than there is about the existence of the coin itself. What is slightly more interesting however is that this relatively low denomination was chosen to mark the occasion. The way Leavers go on you’d think nothing less than a £2 coin would be sufficiently prestigious. Or perhaps we should re-work all our currency to include the message, sans Oxford comma and all? The ultimate irony is that coins themselves are on the way out so what we have is a symbolic if fairly meaningless gesture on a low value coin in a format that is fading out.


Juts to be clear I don’t actually agree with Philip Pullman on this Oxford comma nonsense. As Vampire Weekend memorably put it; “Who gives a fuck about an Oxford comma?” In many of the published things I’ve read no Oxford commas were used. I never use them - on Word it shows as a grammatical error if you put one in. I don’t see the point of them. Surely the `and` covers the last word- adding that blessed extra comma makes it read and, and. So if Sir Phil had his way the message on the coin would effectively say “Peace, Prosperity and and Friendship”.  
It’s a curious slogan for a Brexit coin though. The very idea of Brexit being about `friendship` sounds unlikely – it is more about ending friendships, about isolating ourselves, ignoring the world, putting our collective hands over our ears and going “Not listening, not listening.” Maybe some see the prospect of the United States being our new best friend. Can I just say- Chlorinated chicken.
`Prosperity`? That’s as maybe, we’ll see in three years’ time. I don’t see much evidence of it around at the moment or how Brexit will suddenly generate it. The way Boris Johnson and co talk you’d think we’re still a huge producing nation able to export a massive range of goods and keep the profits but we’re not. Half the industries we have left don’t even belong to us.
`Peace`? The idea of Brexit may have started out as some principled objection to something but along the way it can hardly be said to have inspired any peace and has often been responsible for families and friends falling out. It’ll likely make our relations with EU countries more fractious than ever now we don’t have to “kowtow” in the words of Brexiteers. Because let’s face it the UK is always, always in the right!  
There’s three million of those fifty pences going to be released. This is actually the third version of the coin to be minted after the two previous dates for leaving were missed so that’s a bit more of the money we’re going to `get back` wasted. I suppose it balances out the special 50p issued in 1973 when we joined the EU and to celebrate the twenty fifth anniversary of joining in 1998. However when you discover there was a special 50p coin issued in 2016 devoted to Squirrel Nutkin - not even a real squirrel - you realise these things are just whimsical decisions taken by governments.  Who even checks a 50p piece to see if there’s any special adornment on the tails- followers of Squirrel Nutkin maybe? Let’s just be grateful that there isn’t a picture of Boris Johnson or Nigel Farage on the coin and move on. Brexit is bad enough as it is.


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