We're nearly there. On Saturday I will be donning my father's old business suit and the bowler hat from my daughter's dressing-up box. I'll be heading down to Stroud's Threadneedle Street, with its very own Old Lady (Teashop) to launch the Stroud Pound.
Let's call it rivalry rather than competition, but the brief we gave our designers was to make our notes more stylish than the Lewes pounds, which we loved and secretly envied. They have certainly met this requirement and exceeded our wildest dreams. Four denominations will be available from Saturday morning with a mixture of local celebrities (animal and human) and scenes. This post will only be able to be adorned with one once the strict embargo is past.
Laurie Lee is our star character. There has been much interest in the local press, and we are delighted that his widow, Kathy, will be unveiling the note. She and her daughter Jessy were sure Laurie would have approved. His humanity and deep commitment to equality shine through his writing and must have been drawn from the Stroud valleys, which have been described as a red hand in the middle of Tory-blue Gloucestershire. Our local paper went so far as to say that the courage of the Stroud Pound Co-operative was akin to that shown by Laurie Lee when he went to fight for the Republicans in Spain. We blushed at the excessive compliment, but are delighted by the level of support that we have been given.
Starting a local currency is a deep learning experience. Clutching our own notes for the first time last night generated a mixture of hilarity and awe. As the past year has proved, money is right at the centre of our lives. It really does make the capitalist world go around. Just try to imagine what would have happened to your life if the high-street banks had seized up and your credit card had ceased to function last September. No cashpoints, no ability to pay in shops, very soon nothing in the shops. This is the vital role that money plays in a complex modern economy, and the money we are using has inequality designed into it. It is controlled by the very forces that are wreaking havoc on our planet. Making your own money gives you a chance to really change the economic system that is so all-pervasive as to be invisible and unquestioned.
I still have a wistful longing for Tom Paine, but, although he belongs to Lewes, his belief that 'We have it in the power to make the world anew' belongs to us all.