​Scottish £20 notes – you can’t give  them away down south - Vladimir McTavish

A new Bank of Scotland £20 noteA new Bank of Scotland £20 note
A new Bank of Scotland £20 note
​​Last weekend, I was performing at the Brighton Fringe. It’s a much smaller version of its Edinburgh equivalent. One of the reasons for this is that Brighton doesn’t really need a festival.

It’s a party city all year round. Famous for its vibrant gay scene, it is also home to a multitude of artists and other creatives.

Vegans were mainstream there before the rest of the planet had heard the word. Brighton also attracts a wide array of oddballs and weirdos of every stripe, all of whom fit in. It is by a long chalk the most open-minded and tolerant city in the UK.

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The one thing they will not tolerate, however, is Scottish money. I had forgotten how difficult it is trying to spend Scottish bank notes there. Last week, I just gave up and paid contactless. It wasn’t always so easy..

Some years go, I was in Brighton for the Fringe. This was pre-pandemic when card payments for small amounts were not standard. The only cash I had was £200 in Royal Bank Of Scotland £20 notes, which nobody would accept. Eventually, a friendly shopkeeper suggested I take them to the bank to exchange them.

At the time, RBS still had a branch in Hove, so I turned up there with £200 in their notes and asked to exchange them fore Bank Of England twenties. They asked if I had an account with them, and when told them I did not, they refused to exchange the money. “But these are your notes, they were issued by the Royal Bank Of Scotland. They have your name on them”, I protested.

Their response to this was utterly surreal. “Yes, but if you do not have an account with us, we cannot be sure that you are not money-laundering”. Trying my best to take this seriously, I did make the obvious point that if I were money-laundering, I would set my sights considerably higher than £200.

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I was eventually able to exchange my RBS notes at Nat West, with whom I do have an account.

The daft thing about this story is that Nat West were, and still are, owned by the Royal Bank Of Scotland.

Thank goodness we now live in a cashless society.

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