As you do your numbers one and two, spare a thought a German pensioner who flushed money down the toilet. The poor man sent down £10,400 worth of Deutschmarks, believing they were no longer legal tender because of they now use Euros. Luckily some of it (which had blocked the sewage system) was recovered, and he exchanged it in at the bank. The recurring remark in all the news reports has been – you guessed it – “it wasn’t clear if he laundered the money before handing it in.” The pun writers had a field day with that one.
I once lost a large amount of money too - £160. You may scoff, but to me, that money could have been my pension, pocket money, emergency savings, and trust fund rolled into one.
The money arrived as £200 via the international banking network otherwise known as friends and family in transit. As a jobless nearly graduate £40 went to essentials, such as transport, food, and Ladbrokes. The importance of the money was never far from my mind, it would go towards paying off a university debt (probably library fines) so that I could graduate. It was always in a white envelope on the study desk in the living room. After a bit of procrastination, I would pay it into the university’s account.
However, my cousin inadvertently had other plans for the money. This was a council flat in glamorous Barking, east London, and he had to keep up appearances. So he did something never ever done by bachelors this side of the Thames, he tidied up. And in the throes of killing all known germs dead, and attacking evil dust particles with Flash, he chucked my mother’s hard earned 160 quid in the bin.
This tidying up took place while I was in church asking God for financial manna from heaven. I was hoping that my miracle would be on its way. Alas. The nest morning, I noticed the envelope had disappeared. “Oh, that white envelope? I chucked it in the bin yesterday,” said he. And the bin? Down the rubbish chute, 13 floors down.
I found the building caretaker (I never knew it had one) and convinced him to open the bin room at the back of the building. After giving me the spiel about health and safety, and authorisation, an offer of backshish did the trick. He opened the bin room. And something hit me, the smell. I smelled the bags before I even saw them, it appears that smell was travelling faster than light. I rolled up my sleeves, and dug in, a red ribbon bound BSc. Hons paper was at stake. The task was slightly easier than it could have been, since we were searching for a bag with a pizza carton bulge.
Still holding my nose with one hand, while looking for an angular bulge from any the bags, the caretaker made small talk. “Good thing they took the bins this morning, it could have been worse.” What? My bin wouldn’t even be among these ones. The local council had done a rare thing indeed, and picked up the bins on time. I left the rubbish, went upstairs, sulked for a bit, then went to the Ladbrokes. There’s got to be a winner at the 3.25 at Newmarket.
The moral of the story? Don’t live with a tidiness freak cousin in a borough council where the bin-men are efficient. I did graduate happily ever after.