The man from the BBC was interviewing Martin Sorrell this morning about his "pay packet". Considering this is almost seven million pounds a year I assume he was being flip.
But then I hear about Premier League footballers "putting in a shift", busy midfielders described as "grafters" and Adebayor's £150,000 a week referred to as "wages" and I wonder how long that whole world of factory work and weekly wages will have to be dead before people stop reaching back to it as a source of metaphor. It's as if we can only deal with silly money by comparing it to the dimly-remembered serious sort.
Sorrell is probably old enough to have done a holiday job where he was paid in a brown envelope. I doubt the same thing could be said of his interrogator.
When I worked "on the bins" in the early 70s the Securicor van would draw up in the yard on Friday morning. We would queue at the van's window to be handed our money in sealed envelopes. These had a cellophane panel through which you could count the carefully folded notes. There were also tiny holes through which you could check the coins, all without breaking the seal.
I can remember the heavy breathing of the men as they counted.