One Sunday afternoon in late 1979, I went for a walk. At the time, this seemed to be a jolly good idea – at least one assumes my parents thought so. I was only about 4. We all set off confidently from our house amidst the Surrey Hills and wandered, for quite some time apparently, down a deserted old railway line. Many hours later, we arrived in the next village, which no doubt was also completely deserted. I don’t think anything ever happened on a Sunday afternoon in the 1970s.
Fortunately, my parents had a plan which didn’t involve a 3 hour walk back home. Instead, it was decided we could get on a bus which would convey us back to the point we had started from earlier that afternoon. I assume a small period of time passed and then a bus did in fact turn up in this remote corner of Surrey. Apparently, so I was told years later, Father confidently boarded the bus and requested 3 tickets for the journey. It was very shortly after this moment, he discovered that he hadn’t bought his wallet or indeed any small change with him, with which to pay for said tickets.
I’m not quite sure what happened at this point, although we were allowed to board the bus and travel the short distance home. I’m assuming, as the small person, I was dangled in front of the driver as bait and he decided to take pity on us. Although, more likely he was taking pity on my Father, knowing the trouble he was going to be in later on! I think, from that moment on, my Father has never even put the bins out, without first ensuring he has his wallet, credit cards and pockets stuffed with cash just in case he suddenly needs to get on a bus in the middle of nowhere!
Of course nowadays you rarely need cash, and even if you don’t have any credit cards with you, most of us will now have one or more of these ‘pay tag’ things. These are immensely useful and, bearing in mind Father’s fate in 1979, I always ensure at the very least I have one of these tags somewhere about my person when I go out. Before long, we will probably just need our mobile phones in order to pay for things and cash will cease to exist!
With this in mind I am in the process of reviewing how my choirs pay their monthly / quarterly subscriptions. Currently the options for most are cash, cheque or a manual bank payment. I have tried to move away from ‘cash on the day’ as far as possible. Mostly, this is inconvenient for choir members and all it really does is provide more work for my accountant. Im currently investigating whether it’s possible (or indeed practical) to accept pay tags remotely. More likely is a Direct Debit option, which probably for most would be least hassle and would make it easier to account for.
If you currently sing in a choir, or indeed run one, I’d love to hear from you about the options you have for paying subs. Do you think they work? Or if not, are there better ways of doing this?