£5 for a phone contract? No wonder it's shit.
What can you get for £5 these days? Not a lot, that's for sure. When we were young, you could walk into Debenhams with a £5 note and come out a prince. You'd have a butler, some horses, a gamekeeper, a gold tunic and 14 full sized hotels. That was always the best bit, the hotel empire.
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These days, of course, £5 is nothing. Too much for an ice cream, not enough for a helicopter, it exists in a monetary limbo continually failing to pay for anything while the likes of the £10 note and the 25p coin are handed over in their billions on a daily basis. Walk into Debenhams with £5 now and a sniper will literally shoot you in the head. It's really that bad.
The Government has finally recognised that this once popular denomination has become pointless, and plans to downgrade the £5 note to a coin - it will be roughly the diameter of a mug and made of steel - with a view to scrapping it altogether at the 2012 Olympics during a special ceremony.
Want to know what to do with your £5 notes until then? You could always hand over one of them a month towards your telephone. Orange, the only phone company simultaneously named after a colour and a fruit, has responded to the recession by devising a contract agreement so cheap it costs less than two pints of lager beer from a drinking bar. You get 50 texts and 50 minutes for that, which is a bit hideous for anyone wanting to use their phone as a communications device but perfect for grandparents who will keep it unused in the boot of their car in case they ever break down. You also get a handset, the Nokia 2630, which comes with talking and typing functionality and a clock, and no doubt also some other things.
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The Shed The downside of throwing this out to the public, of hoping to price the subscription model so low that it tempts away pay-as-you-go people and creates a new budget market, is that Orange has to stump up a posh phone for everyone. The upside, for the company, is the length of the contract. 36 months, three whole years, is a long time to be stuck with your provider as a result of a one-time signature, but by then you may well be so acclimatised to Orange that you might end up being their customer forever. And that's not too bad for customers because forever's only about six years away, at the latest count. Kim Jong-il knocked ten years off the clock the other week.
As a special treat, we're accompanying this slightly bitty article with a photograph of Neil Macgeorge. He's the director of Pay Monthly for Orange, and he says some things in their press release but they're terribly dull. The most important thing is that he's called Neil McGeorge, which is a clever way to incorporate two first names into your name without people immediately noticing. Try it yourself - Bob Mackevin, Bill Macben, Tony Macsusan. Hours of fun.