Sometime in the early 1990’s my grandfather won a gallon bottle of whiskey. He liked the odd nip but would never get through that amount so it was decanted and I got a bottle. I didn’t drink whiskey then, I learnt from an Australian relative when I was in the country at the end of last year. But I was still a whiskey snob and thought getting a free bottle of whiskey was less good because it was a popular blend rather than a single malt. This foolish attitude was amended by learning from a Scot, JTO‘s grandfather, that there’s no such thing as bad whiskey, just some’s better than others.
What I wanted more than the whiskey was the bottle. My father wanted it too but somehow I managed to end up with the bottle. I had recently moved out of my parents house into my first home in Reading. I wanted the bottle to collect my small change in. Money up to and including 5p in value was deposited in the slit cut in the top of the bottle when changing trousers or at the end of the day. I joked when friends visited that it was my unofficial unemployment insurance and would only be dipped into if I ever lost my job.
In 1996 my post in the health service was declared redundant due to cutbacks in administration level and I did not get an alternative. I found myself out of work so I turned to my insurance. I emptied the bottle and discovered I had collected £40 something without really noticing it.
I subsequently found work and started collecting loose change in the bottle again. When I moved in with JTO in 1997 the bottle moved in with me and the two of us added loose change to the bottle. There was also a change in that 20p pieces were also put into the bottle so that the next time it was emptied the amount it contained was much more.
The next emptying of the bottle was in 2005 when we left the flat we were renting and moved into temporary accommodation meaning the bottle would go into storage. This time the amount it contained was just over £100 which was very welcome.
After emptying the bottle out it took some effort to separate the different coins out and then count them up and put them into different bags so that they would be accepted by the building society or bank. After all the work involved in the counting it seemed that I had earned spending the money on something to enjoy, something special.
On moving to France the bottle came too except this time it is filled with Euro’s, or to be more precise 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 centime coins. The Euro coins are smaller than their sterling equivalents. I’m not making a value judgement about the two different currencies just talking about their composition. The result is that you can get a lot more of the coins in the bottle.
The bottle has now become too heavy to move about when cleaning etc so it was again time to empty it. So last night whilst watching the Russia vs Poland match the bottle was emptied and the coins separated. However they were only separated to count them as the bags they go in can contain coins of all values mixed together – French banks have machines to count coins! The bottle contained 214,92 Euros, 4 UK 1p pieces, 6 US cents and a Croatian 50 Liper piece!
Now we have the delight of deciding what to do with the money we have saved. One decision was taken last night in that we will go to the pictured restaurant for lunch on Saturday. The owner, Jacques, is much more than a chef, he is an artist with food. It is a place we take people when they come to stay and people have enjoyed eating there. I am looking forward to it massively.