It’s snow joke, the end is nigh...

THE time for celebrating is almost upon us. It may be today that we can lift a glass and say with a thankful sigh: Goodbye, see you in a year s time. I m not talking about that loud, lager-swilling maiden aunt who went Down Under to try her hand at opal

THE time for celebrating is almost upon us. It may be today that we can lift a glass and say with a thankful sigh: "Goodbye, see you in a year's time."

I'm not talking about that loud, lager-swilling maiden aunt who went Down Under to try her hand at opal mining and regularly returns to the Old Country smelling of kangaroo.

No, this is much nearer home. Every morning for nigh on two-and-a-half weeks I have parted the curtains and looked out with more hope than expectation.

For a fortnight it has been more or less the same sight meeting my eyes.


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But all things must change and I have been heartened of late to see the dreaded snow finally retreating.

Yesterday (Wednesday) there was just a smidgen - no more than a couple of inches square - left in my back garden, while over the road a grubby piled up lump was stubbornly hanging on but fighting a losing battle against the rising temperature. I cannot remember the last time snow hung around for so long. All I hope is that we have had our fill of it this winter and now we can look forward to a pleasant spring and a wonderfully warm summer. But I won't be putting any money on that.

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Perhaps I am old fashioned - behind the times - but I cannot break the habit of carrying a cheque book in my back pocket.

Not so long ago it regularly saw the light of day, being used to settle a number of transactions. But now it is much neglected, coming out only to pay at our favourite Chinese takeaway.

A growing number of shops have notices up saying they no longer accept cheques. Only chip and pin will do now.

Telephone banking is another big thing these days, although I still feel uneasy giving my card details to a machine. (I hate it when I'm prompted to get on with it if I am a little slow in punching in a number).

I was interested to learn that on Monday it was 350 years to the day since the first cheque was signed, or at least one of the earliest known to be in existence in the UK, it said as a footnote to the press release.

For those of you who must know everything, it was made out for �400, signed by Nicholas Vanacker, payable to a Mr Delboe, and drawn on Messrs Morris and Clayton.

While one organisation was celebrating this, another was planning the demise of cheques. But like most things, there is controversy over the move.

Apparently, many small businesses still rely on payment by cheque and they are worried that acceptable alternative arrangements will not be in place by 2018, the date which the Payments Council is likely to propose for knocking cheques on the head.

Now that champion of the small entrepreneurs, the Forum of Private Business, is on the case. Forgive me if I do not give you regular updates on the issue.

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