Friday, May 27, 2011

The Golden Penny

A penny for your thoughts! I’ve often wondered about the meaning of the ancient idiom; if my thoughts are really that cheap. Would I really sell them for that amount to disclose to my mum that I played hanky panky with our neighbour’s daughter as a teenager, or own up to my elder sister to being responsible for the rapid depletion of her Mills and Boon collection just to impress the object of my affection at the time? Never mind the more serious thought of coup plots, impending adulterous affairs and births of million dollar enterprises. Then again, lurking behind every idiom and proverb is some sliver of truth, and this I have sought to make sense of in this post. After many agonising days of soul searching, I finally found the clue to breaking the code to ascertaining the true value of the basest/cheapest thought hiding in plain sight; the penny’s age.

Good week everyone! One of the channels I love to watch the most on our local cable network is the Crime channel. The material there is so fascinating; the different motives people have for killing their loved ones, colleagues, strangers, range from lust for money to mercy killing and fits of rage or jealousy. Of particular relevance to this post is a documentary I watched about the British great train robbery which took place in the sixties. I’m not quite sure of how much was stolen by the robbers but I think it was in the region of three million pounds sterling. What I did find out in the course of the documentary was that after the robbers shared their loot equally, each one ended up with the sum of approximately two hundred and fifty thousand pounds each; an equivalence of three million pounds of this day’s currency. This means that the value of the pound sterling is approximately twelve times what it is today. You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this but please just bear with me for just a moment. My father bought a house in Liverpool in the sixties for about fifteen hundred pounds. Today houses in that borough go for prices that range from a hundred thousand to a hundred and fifty thousand pounds sterling. So, for the sake of greed, even though the house is his no more, I would say that the value of the pound as regards the real estate market has to date increased a hundred fold. My extensive research has shown that the origin of the topical idiom lies somewhere in the sixteenth century.

This is where arithmetic and interest come in. Since a penny is a hundredth of a pound, it is safe to say that a penny in the sixties would be worth a pound sterling in Liverpool and twelve pence in the general areas of England. Shoot me if you want to but I will say my piece ‘cause this is my spot. If then, in the past fifty years, the value of the penny has increased by between 1200% and approximately 10000%,by how much value has the penny increased in the past five hundred years, given the idiom’s inception in the sixteenth century? It is at this point that my mathematical prowess begins to falter so I’ll hazard a rough estimate and add two zeroes to come up with a value ranging between a hundred and twenty pence and a thousand pence. In other words, the value of the basest human thought ranges between one pound twenty pence and ten pounds sterling in today's currency! Quite elementary my dear Watson!

In conclusion, I hereby call for an advocacy for the amendment to the idiom “a penny for your thoughts” to “to what currency value are you amenable to exchanging your thoughts”. This, I feel, will sustain this venerable idiom for millennia to come, on account of its ability to seamlessly pass through currency borders, and its ability to blend with whatever inflation rates that may exist in our increasingly global world. Just a thought, and I’m giving it away for free! Have a great weekend everyone!


  1. Kalu you should get some rest, your brain is working overtime!!! Just take a deep breath. Its just a saying.

  2. K,

    You and your Thanks for the free gift. We appreciate it.


  3. @ Anon, lol. Don't you know that the deepest treasures are usually found in the simplest places? You never know; your grandchildren may thank me for this!
    @ M, Thank you, I know you probably know I'm weird but I thank you for understanding.

  4. Hi K, as you said this is weird thoughts ooo, lol. I will take a chill beer and re-read it again to come up with the total sum of our thoughts. Nice weekend.

  5. What geekdom, lol...

    Thanks for sharing this. “to what currency value are you amenable to exchanging your thoughts?”

  6. formerlystealthreaderJune 3, 2011 at 12:26 AM

    Formerlystealthreader. Yay finally can comment from this stupid blackberry! Have so much to say
    From your previous posts but let me do me n not bother about them and concentrate on this here encyclopedia you have written by yourself.
    Can somebody say NERD ALERT!!! Chineke Kalu diopara Ikeagwu! My head was spinning went 360 like in d exorcist, suck @ math so u r on your own meet me @ d end and tell me d answer is my motto concerning math. Anyhoo lovely read, you are getting normal (weird) n normal-er wit each post. I love. It! Happy to be back. Now I hope this posts! Phew :).

  7. The weirdest post I`ve read in a long time, lol. Nice writing though.

  8. Lol you are so funny. Yea indeed you just ignited some thinking process. A penny is way too cheap mehn LOL

  9. Wonderful piece. I wish it is changed to a kobo for your thought. After all, Nigeria money is most conforming to the world hyper and galloping inflation. It is a kobo for your thought