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EURO- ONLY as good as
Barry Paton

Week 3 in Euro-land.
'My pockets in my trousers are starting to get small holes in them after only 2 weeks of the Euro'.

Things are now beginning to settle down, with the general populace at least. However, there are one or two side effects that those high up in Brussels could never have foreseen. It is inevitable that no matter how hard you plan there will always be something that slips through. Here in France, I have done what most French people have done, totally abandoned the franc and concentrate on the Euro. This has led to one or two unexpected effects. Firstly, the French – notorious for keeping cash under the mattress -have changed over €15.24 Billion! Around about £10 billion. All this has come from nowhere? Secondly, the Church, which relies on the offering plate, have discovered that instead of the usual 10 franc piece (1 pound) being offered, the coin preferred by the pious is now the Euro, mostly because it looks much the same. And anyway, they are not going to put €1.52 in the plate. This has reduced their income every Sunday by one third. Expect some sort of European court decision on this one.

Thirdly, and most importantly, the change in ones pocket or purse. With francs and centimes, no one could be bothered with the tiddly stuff. It all went into a jar or bowl in the kitchen. It was only used when people came to the door with a charity can, children at Halloween and other odd days. Because the new cent is so new and unknown we, yes myself included, think it has value. They are bright, shiny and tiny but must be of value because they are different. They are, in fact, worth 2/3rds of penny sterling. 100th of 66p.! This leads to some strange thinking akin to the old £2.99 type thing. I am always 2 or 3 cents short of a Euro in my change. My pockets in my trousers are starting to get small holes in them after only 2 weeks of the Euro. Will I put them in a bowl or jar in the kitchen? No, of course I won’t, I’ll hang onto them about my person until grim death because it is the new money. I suspect that most French will do the same. This will lead to a huge increase in trouser buying in the nation. Now, will Brussels pay for this? I suspect not but if you are a manufacturer of clothes or, planning an investment, then this is the area to be in the foreseeable future.

The day to day business goes on as usual, money is money after all, and as far as I can gather no-one has try to rip me off. The rounding-up bit has happened inevitably, as it is impossible to exactly match the previous price. In fact, on the plus side is there has even been some rounding-down in the form of parking fines and other government penalties. The fly in the ointment here is that you have to buy this fiscal penalty in the form of a stamp at a tabac and the new ones are not yet printed. This, of course may be a deliberate policy on the government’s side. In a few months France has elections for a new President of The Republic. The tradition has always been that on election the new President declares an amnesty for all ‘minor’ offences. This is the reason that everyone parks in stupid situations, drives crazily (so what’s new?) and promptly tears up the ticket. This explains why visitors to France see the streets littered with tickets. Would this be a fiscal ploy to show that the deficit in the budget is not as great as the opposition say? Would that the UK Government have such Gallic logic. Or am I just being cynical?

Yes, we are all living happily with the Euro, partly because we have no option and partly because, in the long term European scheme of things, it is a good thing despite it being brought into fruition by the faceless in Brussels. Appropriately, this morning, I received a compliment from a Belgian client from Brussels saying, and I quote:- “As ever Barry, you are a superstar and without a shadow the most efficient person I know.”
If only they knew!

© Barry Paton 2002

Read Week One of the EuroAdventure

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