26 May 2022

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New quarantine restrictions to start 15th February, a date which earned fame 50 years ago!
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New quarantine restrictions to start 15th February, a date which earned fame 50 years ago!

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Historic day coming up! Who can remember why?

15th February is already a date on which a major event took place in the UK but this year is going to be remembered for something new.

The 15th February in question was as long ago as 1971 so unless you are knocking on somewhat, you will not remember what this date was all about. That is not say that if you are not old enough you are still a spring chicken – no such luck! But it does mean that you will be amongst that segment of the population which does not know what “half a crown” was, or “two pence halfpenny”, or perhaps a “ten bob note”.

15th February 1971 was “D Day”, no not Deliverance Day as in the second world war but “Decimal Day” – the day on which the UK changed from its old long standing currency to decimal currency, that change from pounds shillings and pence to pounds and pence and the pence were not the same either. One new penny was worth 2.4 old pennies – there were 240 pennies in a pound.

Everything changed – at the time the country was also under the control of a price freeze – it was illegal to increase the price of anything from clothes to a pint of beer or a meal in a pub. Of course there were lots of price increases – secret and subtle as unscrupulous traders relied on the ignorance of the population as to the relative values of the old and new currencies.

On that day too the Post Office issued the new definitive versions of the postage stamps. But there too was a strange anomaly because on that date in February 1971, the Post Office workers were on strike! The result of that was that there were scarcely any post offices open up and down the realm. A few privately owned offices were opened and if the postmen who worked in their areas did not support the strike then it was possible to post a letter to a local address and get a delivery, otherwise the Post Office would not accept mail for posting. As a result of the strike the philately industry raised a hue and cry because they were going to miss out on the first day covers of the new issue. This was met by an unscrupulous government who, not wanting to lose the large amount of business, published a notice that they would “back-date” first day covers “to avoid the terrible loss for the stamp collecting industry”. What rubbish. It was to ensure they did not lose the sales!

However, this potential act of forgery was thwarted. Because there were some post offices operating, there were indeed some genuine first day covers and a complaint to the government resulted in the further announcement that any back-dated covers would be endorsed “back dated due to the Post Office strike 1971” to avoid any doubt as to which ones were actually genuine.

None of this of course bears any connection to what is happening on 15th February 2021, 50 years to the day later. This is the government’s new plan that anyone returning to England from one of a red list of countries must go into enforced quarantine in a designated hotel for ten days at a cost of £1750. They must also have a negative Covid-19 test before they set off on their journey to England and pre-pay for a “set of 2 tests” during the quarantine after their return at a cost of £210.

This is quite an expensive additional cost to your travel plans! So really you do not want to be returning to the UK from one of these places but the designated hotel requirement only applies to travellers on the so called red list; travellers from other places must nevertheless still have the tests and go into quarantine. Breaches of the rules could in certain circumstances earn you a £10000 fine or ten years in prison, or possibly even both.

Just in case you need a link, check this out:

Best stay at home, eh?

In the meanwhile, Happy Valentine’s Day.

Adrian Leopard  - Valentine’s Day 2021

Photo Ali Bakhtiari

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