Where did I get my ‘Temporally Out of Order’ idea?

So we’re halfway through the Kickstarter today and at time of writing this, we’re a hair under 80% funded. Hopefully by the time you’re reading this, we’ll have passed that milestone and be well on our way to fully funded and better yet, the stretch goals.

I really want to see us hit those stretch goals. Because I really want to read those extra stories. Yes, I really want to write one of them, because I’ve got an awfully good idea… Would you like to know a little about the puzzle that’s prompted it?

Let me tell you something that my younger son has discovered. He’s eighteen and being very musical, he and a similarly talented pal go busking in Oxford. We all live within striking distance of the city and the lads are properly licensed by the local authority and obey all the relevant regulations. On a good day, especially in the tourist season, they can do very nicely, thank you. Even on a quiet day, they’ll earn more that they would spending their time stacking shelves in a supermarket on minimum wage.

One of the entertaining things as we count and bag up the money for banking is spotting the foreign coins. They’ve been doing this for a couple of years now and have amassed a couple of dollars in US quarters from various states, along with one Sacagawea dollar and some nickels and dimes. They get a few Euro coins and coppers each month so that all goes in the family travel fund. Other coins have come from Egypt, China, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Ukraine, Finland, Norway, Hungary, India. They can’t cash such small amounts of coin but that’s not a problem. They’re interesting in their own right, to show how far folk travel to visit Oxford, and the gesture of appreciation for the lads’ music is, well, appreciated.

Then there are the old coins, and they’re a real curiosity. Every so often, we’ll find a coin that’s no longer legal tender here in the UK. Outsized ten and fifty pence coins that were withdrawn from circulation years ago. Even older, pre-decimal coins. Half crowns. Sixpences. We’ve even had some from Europe; pre-Euro francs and centimes and a couple of Deutschmarks. Here’s a picture of the latest; a 1962 old penny. That’s older than me!

1962 Penny

Who goes out, let alone on holiday, with a pocketful of outdated small change and gives it to buskers? Why?

No, that’s not what my story’s going to be about. Not directly, anyway. But you can’t expect a puzzle like this not to get a writer’s imagination working…

So if you want to read the story, and haven’t yet backed the Kickstarter? Well, over to you.


  1. Who goes out, let alone on holiday, with a pocketful of outdated small change and gives it to buskers? Why?

    This reminds me of something. Every year around the holidays, the Salvation Army (a charity here in the states) has lots of people with donation kettles across the country.

    And for the last few years, someone (or a few people perhaps) have been dropping a few gold Krugerrands (worth a few hundred dollars) into random kettles, mostly around Chicago.

  2. Krugerrands? That must brighten up the day for whoever’s counting and bagging that change!

    Every so often I’ll see a charity appeal for old or foreign coins here in the UK. Apparently banks will still take them if they come in sufficient quantity –

    – but I think it’ll take the busking boys quite a while to amass a pre-decimal pound’s worth of old pennies: 12 to a shilling, 20 shillings to the pound, 240 in all!

    1. That’s a lot of pennies. That 12 to a shilling, 20 to a pound is (was) such a weird system. I never encountered it, except through an Asimov essay on the subject.

      And there is always a Human Interest Story bit on the news when someone finds a Krugerrand in the kettle, indeed!

      1. The sons’ reactions when we explained how old UK currency worked were priceless. Especially when we got onto ‘Guineas’ – one pound and one shilling.

        1. The English system was even weirder than most originating-during-the-Middle-Ages coinage systems because England was at the nexus of two big trading systems. The French (and I think many Italian states), which made up the more southerly system, used a 12-based coinage. (Which is why English has the French “dozen” for twelves of things.) The Norse/Northern German system divided coinage into tens and twenties. Put them together, you get the old English coinage, including such lapsed units as marks.

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