Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Change Will Do You Good

Artists Tom Mannion and Joel Smith spent a weekend trawling the pubs and bars of North London this summer, picking up the small change they found on the floor. Starting at midday on a Friday and ending when the bars closed at 11pm on the Sunday night, they collected an astonishing £469.17 (c $900). Most of the haul was in one, two and five pence pieces. The average amount found per bar was 67 pence.

Smith commented, "In one bar in ten, we found a banknote of some sort on the floor, which brought the average up. Mostly, you are picking up a handful of pennies and 5p pieces from the floor around the bar, plus change discarded on or around the gambling machines. But we found nearly £75 each, every day, which for many people in the UK is more than they make a day after tax. It's way better than the minimum wage."

They concentrated on bars in thriving areas such as King's Cross, Camden and Tufnell Park, visiting around 50 each per day, and working for just six hours daily, making for a 'pre-tax' equivalent of around £16 an hour, the average UK wage for head wine waiters, upholsterers and police dog handlers. "You could only do this in big cities," added Mannion, "and you need to be unobtrusive and smartly dressed. In a couple of bars, we got odd glances, picking up pennies, but to be honest, most of the time, no one looked twice."
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