>I was in Limerick buying shoes for a wedding I am attending in the coming week.

I hate shopping for clothes generally – shoes are a particular problem for me, in that I have rather wide feet, and modern footwear fashions dictate that you need to have narrow and very pointy feet in order to get anything remotely “trendy”. I also have a thing about not buying terribly expensive shoes, in that (a) they’re only going to get scuffed and worn and/or (b) at some stage I am going to get sick of wearing the damn shoes, and it’ll be easier for me to chuck out an old worn cheap pair that I’m sick of, rather than an expensive, “good” pair that I’m sick of…

…or maybe I’m just a tightwad (there are other types of “wad” that one could be, I suppose – a “tight” one isn’t necessarily the worst type…).

Spent hours roaming around Limerick and couldn’t find anything that ticked the various boxes:-

  1. – right colour to go with my suit
  2. – right price
  3. – looked nice
  4. – actually fit

Eventually, I headed out to one of the out-of-town shopping centres and got what I was looking for, so much so that I even bought a second pair as part of a special offer.

But that, in itself, was not remarkable. What was remarkable was that while I was waiting to be served in the shoe shop, some chap came to the counter to make a purchase and gave a €200 note to the shop assistant. €200 notes are as rare as hen’s teeth in Ireland, and the shop assistant wisely went to her manager to get approval to accept it. One minute later and the shop assistant apologised to her customer:- “Sorry, sir, my manager says we can’t take a €200 note…”

“Oh, that’s alright”, sez yer man, and without further ado (or resort to other literary cliché), he extracts a big fat roll of banknotes out of his trousers pocket and peels off a couple of €100 notes…

Now, in these recessionary times, I don’t know too many legitimate professions whereby a young looking guy wearing sports/leisure wear can make cash purchases using large-denomination banknotes carried around in his pocket. He certainly didn’t look like a drug dealer or other variety of criminal. But I thought it prudent not to make eye contact with him nonetheless…