Obliged to the Clydesdale Bank

Infrequent visitors to Scotland may be unaware that whilst they share a currency with the rest of the UK (and some at least wish to continue to do so, despite the issues this could create) they find our banknotes too drab and uninspiring to use.  As a result, they print their own more colourful currency for spending north of the border.

Three banks produce their own notes:

  • The Royal Bank of Scotland: nearly as boring as the English note-wise, could almost pass for real money.
  • The Bank of Scotland: more colourful and interesting, but not out of place in a board game for adults.
  • The Clydesdale Bank: like an explosion in a paint factory.  Clearly aimed at the kids.

I am being slightly unkind here, Clydesdale notes do also remind me of those used in Australia (though, unlike Aussie notes do not give the impression of being machine washable) – which may be because the bank is owned by the Australians.  However, you would be hard pushed to convince anyone in southern England that they were valid currency (even though they are) – you’d probably have more luck with Euros as they would be more familiar to the likely audience.

As a result, I usually try and dispose of any Scottish notes before I head south.  I did once manage to buy a bus ticket in Cambridge using a BoS note on the basis that Stagecoach (the operator of the bus) were a Scottish company and so really ought to accept payment in “local” currency: an approach which bamboozled the driver sufficiently to get me home.  However, I have never had the brass neck to try “passing” a Clydesdale note “down south” – and the south where I now reside is a long way down!

So, finding myself with Clydesdale notes aplenty last Wednesday evening I was on the lookout for a sensible way to spend them.  Due to mental enfeeblement, I stupidly bought concert programmes for the St John Passion using coins – good news for my balance (my list to port was significantly reduced) and left-hand trouser pocket, not so good for my colourful problem.  Luckily, as I was leaving I noticed that the Dunedin Consort (or their representatives) were selling “merch”.  No sign of the band/tour t-shirt – perhaps something for Alfonso Leal del Ojo to consider for future gigs – but they were flogging CDs, and so I acquired a Dunedin Consort performance of Mozart’s Requiem.

Yesterday, in my sole concession to any of religion, rabbits or chocolate, I listened to the performance.  It was quite stunning, like having the Dunedin Consort in my parlour – but without the terribly cramped and probably embarrassing conditions that would ensue were I to actually attempt to fit that many people and their instruments into my modest abode.  The CD is distributed (perhaps more: my knowledge of the workings of the music business is fairly rudimentary) by an outfit called Linn.  These seem to be quite splendid fellows and I may check out their other wares.  The CD comes in a rather nice, tasteful box, and one without the very sharp corners that have led to so many injuries over the years.  The sound quality of the CD was excellent and it comes with a little card that allows you to download a digital copy (free of charge) in a wide variety of formats.  As a result, I did have to resort to DuckDuckGo to discover what FLAC (nothing to do with Roberta or anti-aircraft fire, apparently) and ALAC (nothing to with ALAS) mean – and decide which I would prefer.  I suspect I may stick with plain old MP3 as I am far from convinced that I have any device that can play xLAC for any x – and as with any high quality, née audiophile, sound recording I doubt that my ears are sufficiently discerning to enjoy all that extra quality.  I sometimes wonder if some high-end audio is aimed at dogs or owls, or some other creature with much more acute hearing than your base model homo sapiens.

So, as well as snaps to Linn for their excellent musical offering, I find I must thank the Clydesdale Bank – without their garish taste in currency, I would probably have missed out on some wonderful music.  I realise this sort of opportunity was probably not uppermost in their minds when planning their notes, but if we only gave folks credit for the planned consequences of their actions I fear there would be far less gratitude in the world.  Let’s all raise a glass to serendipity!


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