This is what a million dollars looks like. That’s approximately R12.4-million of our money, at today’s scary rate. Alas, this is not legal tender; it’s a “joke note”, given to me today by my good pal Ronnie, who has a habit of telling people, “You’re looking like a million bucks!”, and then giving them a million bucks. But the real joke is that all paper money is just paper pretending to be money, because it is not worth anything until you spend it, and once you spend it, you haven’t got it anymore, so it’s still worth nothing. This is the paradox on which the global economy turns, and this six-zero note reminds me of a famous short story by Mark Twain, “The Million Pound Bank Note”. It’s about a man who winds up with a million-pound note, which sounds like a good deal, until he discovers that he is unable to spend it, because who’s got change for a million smackers? The moral of the story, I think, is that it’s easier to use your MasterCard, but a whole lot more impressive to light a cigar with a million bucks.

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