My interest in banknotes has only ever extended to how much they're worth, what they'll buy me and where can I get them from.
That was until a few weeks ago when the Bank of England announced it wanted to replace the fiver's Elizabeth Fry with Winston Churchill. No biggie really. Until you realise this would mean there'd be no women on banknotes. Oh hold on, that's not right. The Queen's on there isn't she? YES I KNOW. But she's there by default. And, when Charles succeeds her, it will be his bonce we'll be fingering in our pockets, not hers.
The Bank's Governor Mervyn King says "our banknotes acknowledge the life and work of great Britons". So are all our great Britons men? Can the Bank really not think of one woman whose achievements are worth celebrating? Or what about keeping Fry and changing one of the men?
It's been a weird few days for our public women. Nigella Lawson gets throttled by her husband and it's dismissed as a "playful tiff". One highly respected 'Leftie' male media pundit even praised the paper that ran the pictures for bagging a "spectacular old-fashioned Fleet Street scoop". On last week's BBC Question Time, Tessa Jowell was interrupted repeatedly by Boris Johnson. It took a member of the audience to ask if she could continue her conversation. Dimbleby and everyone else seemed happy to let her get drowned out.
So, in a week where women continue to be told (or made) to shut up, I think it's important they don't get wiped off the banknotes too. Ignoring us doesn't mean we'll go away.
The Women's Room (@thewomensroomuk), a group committed to raising women's visibility in the media, asked the Bank to reconsider but were batted away with a sniffy lawyer's letter. So they decided to take the Bank to court under the 2010 Equality Act. For this they needed to raise £13,000 by today and they did so with over 1,000 donations from women, men and even children, offering up their pocket money. At the same time, 46 women Labour MPs and peers wrote to David Cameron, asking them to support a campaign to keep a female face on our cash.
I'm staggered that this is happening in our so-called enlightened times and it's more than a little embarrassing for the Bank. I'm hoping Mervyn does the decent thing; reinstate the woman and let the money be donated to good causes. Until then, I'll be holding onto my fivers even tighter than usual.