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Shillings

Please bear with the music

I went for a coffee break just now, and discovered a little, oft-forgotten quirk in our coffee shops.

As I was preparing to pay for my kopi-o, I wasn’t sure if the price had gone up from 50c to 60c or 60c to 70c, so I laid my coins out on the table for the auntie to collect.

She told me it was only 60c, and then asked, 你有 shilling å•Š?‘, pointing at the coins on the table, and asking, “can change shilling for me?”

What she meant was, she wanted to give me a $2 note in exchange for the two $1 coins I had on the table.

Fair exchange, I thought, but it struck me strange that so many decades after we’ve stopped being a British colony, and even more decades since the British started using decimal denomination in their oddly named currency, the coffee shop auntie still refers to small change as ‘shillings’.

Podcast: the mrbrown show 1 May 2006: the persistently non-political podcast no. 6
(MP3, Filesize: 1.5mb, Time: 00:02:58)

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