All That Glitters

You’re probably not going to believe me, but I’m 31 years old, I have a fiancee and a daughter; and no unwanted gold whatsoever. Shocking, isn’t it? Until recently, I wouldn’t have considered this an issue, but no matter where I travel, I see posters in shops and ads on TV urging me to, “Turn your unwanted gold into cash,” which would suggest that unwanted gold is more of a problem than I’d previously considered: not just because I don’t have any, but also because I don’t even know what “unwanted gold” is.

I was previously under the impression that gold was a precious metal over which wars have been fought, blood has been spilled and lives have been lost; but apparently it’s just some shiny, yellow crap that they earth is practically shitting into the hands and households of the general population. No wonder it’s unwanted. I wouldn’t be surprised to also learn that certain strains of gold stink, that others are radioactive and if that’s the case, then there’s probably also a surplus of guilt-soaked Nazi gold that people are desperate to offload: Dubiously obtained gold teeth on a chain that Grandpa brought back from the war and always carried, but refused to talk about. That would certainly qualify as unwanted in my book.

Personally, I’m not a fan of gold (in either its jewellery, staph or shower forms), so on the surface, I must seem like a very likely candidate for any scheme that will rid me of the horrible stuff. The thing is though, I find gold very easy to avoid accidentally-owning. If someone offers to sell me some gold I just say “no thanks” and that’s that. It’s not like a street vendor is going to try and guilt me into it with a cry of “Get your bullion here, help the homeless and the long-term unemployed.” I’m never given gold, because if someone is in a position to buy a present so expensive that gold is an option, then they know me well enough to steer clear of anything I despise as much as ol’ yella. Of course anyone can fall victim to a put-pocket and come home, only to realise that some fiend has dumped a load of gold into your pocket, but it’s rarer than you’d think.

Despite the fact that gold’s not my thing, I’m well aware that other people are mad for it. Gold on their fingers, gold around their neck, gold in their teeth. Mmmmmm yummy-yummy gold-gold. I can only assume that these wonderful humans don’t have any unwanted gold, if only because they seem to be trying to ingest it as fast as possible.

Given that gold-haters are unlikely to be hoarding it and gold-lovers are too busy eating it, it must just be those who are strapped for cash that suddenly feel the desire to set their gold free; in which case, it must be tough for these cash-poor-but-gold-rich dandies to know just what to do.

If I was stone broke, but still had a few Kruggerands under the floorboards and an ingot up the jacksy, I’d probably take them to an independent valuer or get them checked by a handful of jewellers to find out what they’re worth. Of course, I know now that such activities are pure folly and lead only to confusion and wasted time.

According to the ads, the best way to get rid of your yellow-curse is to either bundle it all in an envelope and post it to a semi-anonymous PO Box where an expert will decide what it’s worth and send you the cash back in the post; or else sweep it all into a plastic bag, drive to a shitty part of town, visit a pawnbroker who smells of manslaughter, tip your shiny baubles onto the counter and hope that he lets you out with your life. Oh the glamour.

Given that this seems to be the modern reality of cashing in unwanted gold, the grinning models featured in the posters and TV ads seem blissfully ignorant of the gravity of their situation. They flash their pearly whites and strike power-poses with fistfuls of newly obtained cash, overjoyed to be rid of that burdensome metal which has forever tethered them to the post of unhappiness. None of them seem to be aware of the fact that they’re at a point in life where selling something precious and special to a bottom-feeder of society for a fraction of its actual worth seems like a sensible option.

Perhaps their smiles are full of hope for the future. “I’m in financial dire straits, my family’s broken and my life is a misery… but thank fuck that gold is outta here, it was creeping me out.” I’m angry that the horror of hocking your valuables for a meagre sums is misrepresented as a fun experience, but I’ve got to concede that it’s better than if the poster revealed the truth of the situation: A strung-out wastrel with a mouthful of rotten teeth and a handful of pound coins under large block capitals reading “TURN SOMEONE ELSE’S GOLD INTO HEROIN”.

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