Face Value – Duncan Hedges

Richard had been idly counting his change ready for a trip to the corner shop when he noticed the ongoing revision of the British monarch’s portrait on the nation’s legal tender. He created a chronological lineup of 20 pence coins on his palm, heads facing upwards. It was reassuring to see that even royalty suffered from the passing of time, Her Majesty’s jawline losing definition and her features becoming fractured by the lines of ageing. Being a catalogue model on the wrong side of forty, he was interested to note that a 20 pence coin from 2019 was still worth the same as a coin from 1997, despite the monarch’s increasingly mature appearance.

‘You know, the Queen’s face value doesn’t diminish with age,’ he said to his wife, who was preoccupied with correspondence and barely listening.


‘A 20 pence piece is still a 20 pence piece no matter which portrait it features.’

The realisation motivated him to search out his own personal collection of promotional images spanning the length of his modelling career. He ordered his side profiles into a line and then retrieved details of earnings for each individual year. Much as he suspected, there was a clear trend in the financial reward his portrait commanded over time; the peak years coming in his early 30s, followed by a depreciation in value thereafter.

‘Well, I’m not so lucky with my face value.’

His wife was still paying him minimal attention but knew enough of his current preoccupation to understand what he was doing.

‘Did you factor in inflation?’ she replied, not out of spite but through a commitment to correct procedure, being the holder of his accounts.

‘Of course, inflation!’ he yelped. ‘So the Queen’s face is losing value.’ It was not the response his wife had expected. ‘A 20 pence piece in 1997 was worth more than a 20 pence piece in 2007, which in turn was worth more than one in 2017,’ he continued. ‘As the Queen ages, these coins are coming to be worth less and less!’

‘So you’d better get on and spend’em quickly then,’ she replied, feeling insufficiently inspired to challenge his logic and knowing only too well his thrifty character.

Richard looked at the photographs lying on the carpet and with unashamed vanity admired the sharp lines of his jaw and brow, the pleasing curve of his cheekbones and the welcoming softness of his handsome brown eyes. He turned to his wife and striking his best catalogue pose asked:

‘Darling, would you consider it an act of generosity if I were to spend your money first?’

Evidently, the source of finance for that trip to the corner shop had suddenly been thrown into doubt.



Duncan Hedges lives and works in Leeds, West Yorkshire. He writes short stories in his spare time and has been published online at Ellipsis Zine, Spelk and Bending Genres. https://twitter.com/duncan_hedges

The Cabinet Of Heed Issue 28 Contents Link

Image via Pixabay

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