Those of you who know us know we’ve a history of taking principled stands - from discontinuing a relationship with a charity whose staff exploited women and children, to stopping serving hot drinks in takeaway cups when we discovered that they’re not terribly recyclable. These were decisions we took within hours of becoming aware of the situations above.
Today, the Directors of Belfast Books met and decided that due to Northern Ireland bank issued notes not being readily accepted as payment in most of GB, effective immediately Belfast Books will no longer accept Bank of England notes for payment at our York Road store in Belfast.
And yes, we are both aware and prepared to upset unwary customers and potentially lose sales until this matter is resolved. Hopefully, you’ll support us and either pay in coins, NI issued notes or by card.
By way of background for the uninitiated, we’d always known that despite saying ‘sterling’ on the notes and lots of people wrongly relying on that fact in stand offs at tills all over GB, the NI bank issued notes weren’t legal tender outside of Northern Ireland. However, until very recently, we weren’t aware that Bank of England notes weren’t legal tender in Northern Ireland. The Royal Mint coins are, and we will continue to accept those.
Find it hard to believe that Bank of England banknotes aren’t legal tender in Northern Ireland? So did we until one of our long standing supporters, Robert J.E. Simpson pointed this out in a tweet.
Those of us from Northern Ireland who travel regularly to the major cities in England and Wales have probably all had a parsimonious barista or a bemused falafel vendor say something like, “We don’t accept Euros mate/babe” or “We don’t take Monopoly money”. Our own Mr Books reports that many a time over the last 30 years of travelling to London, he has had that sinking feeling in his stomach when he realised he’d only got Northern. Ireland issued bank notes on him.
We would encourage other Northern Ireland businesses large and small to follow suit and refuse to take Bank of a England banknotes until major U.K. retail businesses agree to accept NI notes in their GB stores.
“We know you guys are a bit bonkers, so how far are you going to take this?”
We’re going to take it as far as we can, and are looking to put together a team to lobby major U.K. retailers to issue instructions so that all their staff are able to identify and accept NI bank issued notes in payment. And if we can find a falafel vendor who’ll take NI issued banknotes, then that’s a bonus. It would certainly make business sense for a small retailer in GB to bite the bullet, put their hand up and start accepting NI issued notes. We’ll maybe make a list of where NI notes are accepted, and update it regularly.
If you want to get involved for just this project, join the new mailing list here.
Our own Strategem trained lobbyist Mr Books (certificate available on request) will be leading the charge campaign until someone with sufficient gravitas comes along to take the torch. If needs be, we’ll consider taking this down a legal route to force change.
If you’ve a personal story to tell, please use the hashtag #banknoteban on Twitter or give your experience or comments good or bad on or Facebook page.
"The Troubles by N.R. Marchand, a review.
The Troubles novel is a treacherous thing. For many authors – especially those unfamiliar with Northern Ireland’s complex social, political, and historical terrain – it is difficult to navigate, and chances are that nobody will thank you for doing it. Regrettably, this is the case with N.R. Marchand’s The Troubles (Olympia Publishers, 2018).
Throughout much of the Troubles, Irish and Northern Irish authors simply avoided the topic altogether. For both local writers and readers, suffering and loss were often too near. It was left mostly to British and American thriller writers to explore the conflict. Perhaps unsurprisingly, these thrillers are often laughable for the Northern Irish reader. Sometimes referred to as Troubles trash, some academics even suggest that the deluge of inaccurate representations may be, in part, responsible for the closemindedness that maintains sectarian division, and hinders the peace process. Whatever their repercussions, these thrillers spoke about the trauma of violence too glibly and didactically for Northern Irish readers. There were no simple, believable solutions and, in any case, what more could they learn about a conflict that coloured their everyday lives for thirty years? A market flooded with these crass and reductive representations deterred authors from adding their own opinions to the literary “freakshow” that was the Troubles novel. There are, of course, notable exceptions to this and, since the conflict’s end (although it seems a little optimistic to say “resolution”), a vibrant and talented cohort of authors has stepped up to address Northern Ireland’s chequered history and problematic present.