[In October 2008, s]ober experts [… ] thought there was a real possibility of a total banking collapse. That is, the banks actually shutting their doors and all the cash machines stopping […] Cheques would be valueless. Credit cards would be useless. With the cash machines shut down […] money would disappear.
Andrew Rawnsley, The End of the Party
And yet, the stuff was everywhere for once.
Children piled up pounds, played tiddlywinks
and learned shove ha’penny from old women
swapping stories from before the war of Weimar
scraping meaning from the bottom of a barrow.
New, this emptying of metal into metal, paper into paper.
Knicker; moola; motzer; wad and wonga; wedge.
sawbuck; benji; nickel; dime and quarter; bread.
Desolation tussled briefly queuing outside banks
until the vaults were opened in despair like Easter
tombs so crowds could come and test their faith
in emptiness while each sad Midas filled a Tesco
bag with faces piled and upturned, printed
on the past. Boys smoked tealeaves wrapped in Isaac Newton.
Scheckells; shillings; shrapnel; sprat and squid;
brass and bob; greenbacks; guineas; groats and quid.
At supermarkets money piled up until gluts
were blown from rooftops like a hard rain under
acrid seasick clouds of blue-green smoke – a signal
everyone could understand. We bartered metals,
grain, flesh and favours, swapped and fucked
the weeks away – and it turned colder.
Quittance; sterling; two-bit; bunce and pound;
dosh and dough; godiva, sov and crown.
We test ungoverned air between our teeth
and listen for the fresh ring of a hope between our hands.
Shake value from our pockets – we accumulate
footprints, birdsong, rain. We chant four hundred
freshly minted words for snow. We hear a discord
sound a bright new music, something new under the sun.
Archer; jacks and job and joey, kick and lolly;
biscuit; meg and monkey; ned and poppy; plum.