Re: He'd be shit out of luck in the UK
Every time I try to recount this tale, it ends up reading like a made up story because of all the details it requires for context, but short version is, I had to get out a loan to pay off my alcoholic mothers rent debts when I was 18 (having been trying to 'manage' them - I lived in the house so she might not have given a toss about eviction, but I bloody did - since I was 13).
Suffice to say I had a bank manager who was sympathetic, a rent officer who was sympathetic, and the rent officers boss, who was, decidedly, not.
The bank manager agreed to the loan based on the fact that I'd been managing her bank accounts too, to an extent (just not legally - this was a local bank, for local people!) so he knew I wasn't taking the piss, and he let me know that he had a whole stock of shitty, dirty, barely legal - but legal - £5 notes that he'd been avoiding using for cashiers as they were such a fiddle to handle. It'd be a real personal favour to him if I could help him use them up.
So, yes, I crippled myself for a couple of years with a £2000 loan for a debt that wasn't mine, but it was worth it. The rent officers manager had used my case as an exemplar of his 'tough love' approach (IE pay the whole fucking lot now, or get evicted, regardless of context or history) and so came down to meet me and accept payment personally.
The shit eating grin dropped rapidly when I emptied a carrier bag of 400 loose, dirty £5 notes over the counter.
"Well, I'm pretty sure that's it. You said you wanted to count it. Off you pop. And don't forget, the girls here tell me policy is to count it twice, so do set a good example!".
Glorious. But not as glorious as my rent officer (truly a good lad who had bent many, many a rule for me) 'accidentally' dropping a pile of folders on the counter (relating to 'our' case) and blowing pretty much every counted note off the table. Just as his boss was finishing counting for the second time.
Oh, and the mother? She died three months later.
She always did have a shitty sense of timing...
The conclusion is, this is how I learned about limits on legal tender - because otherwise a wheelbarrow or five of pennies (or possibly 50ps, because shiny) would have been right up my street.
Anon, because this is - I'm told - still local legend in that (very 'local town, for local people') council housing department even the better part of twenty years later.