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  • ianjarvis2000


Why do people have this bizarre urge to literally throw away their money, especially these days in our current ‘cost of living’ crisis? We’re not talking here about £1000 handbags, £600 trainers and £800 sunglasses. We’re talking about throwing money into pools of water.

Look into every ornamental pool in every shopping mall, garden centre and city plaza, etc, and you’ll see that the bottom is always filled with coins.

Visit anywhere with a man-made pool and you’ll see people eagerly rummaging in their pockets for coins to throw. Children excitedly drag their parents towards these water features and pleading for money to toss in. They don’t have to plead too hard, as the adults are more than happy to give away their cash and watch it vanish with a splash.

Kids aren’t born with a natural urge to throw away money, of course - they’re taught it from an early age. Very small children, unaware of the practise, are taken to pools in shopping malls and asked: “Do you want Mummy to give you some money to throw in?” It isn’t just pennies that are thrown away – you see plenty of 50p, £1 and £2 coins littering the tiled bottoms of these pools.

It probably all started with wishing wells, sacred springs and 'lucky' fountains, which originated from the earlier pagan concepts of appeasing deities and water spirits and asking for their blessings and assistance. The Trevi Fountain in Rome even has its own catchy song about throwing in money, but these days, the water where most people throw away their cash has nothing to do with famous fountains or special wells. They now throw their cash into literally ANY manmade pool.

Zoos and animal parks have to erect warning signs around water, but they're wasting their time. Just look in the bottom of any penguin enclosure.

Leeds has a visitor attraction named Tropical World and the fish ponds there are two inches deep in cash. This is despite the many notices pleading with visitors to not do this as the copper harms the koi carp and other animals. Will we see signs one day that say: Please don't burn any paper banknotes in here as it could activate our fire alarms?

People no longer make wishes when they throw their money into water. I asked one girl why she did it and, with a shrug, she admitted she enjoyed it. I asked if she made a wish and she just looked bemused.

Weirdly, the ponds HAVE to be man-made. People will throw their cash into a natural pond, but it needs to be a small one; a pond up to some unspecified size. Most natural bodies of water – seas, lakes, large village ponds and suchlike – are a definite no-no, as tossing your coins into these would leave you feeling stupid; it would feel like you were, ahem, literally throwing away your money. Swimming pools too are out of bounds, but every other man-made pond is fair game.

I took these pictures in a Las Vegas casino where, after giving most of their money to the croupiers, the punters still had enough left to throw away into the countless decorative lagoons. Every indoor pool in this place was filled with cash and, in one, I got up to $50 before I finally stopped counting the larger denomination coins. Throwing away money is a pretty weird thing to do in itself, but how weirder is it when you're surrounded by hundreds of slot machines? Instead of tossing your coins into the water, you could feed them into any one of these machines and possibly win yourself a fortune.

Knowing how people are compelled to throw their money into man-made water features, why doesn’t every pub beer garden have a pond or a wishing well? Landlords are really missing out if they don’t do this. It wouldn't matter how much beer they sold - they'd make a daily fortune in tossed coins.

Every week, usually in the early hours of the morning, the Rome authorities shovel all the coins out of the Trevi Fountain and the annual staggering amount retrieved is in the region of two-million Euros. This is supposedly given to Italian charities, but what happens to all that money in ‘normal’ fountains and pools? Who owns it? If we see loads of cash in a shopping centre fountain, does it belong to the centre, is it still the property of whoever tossed it in (they may return for it), or can we wade around scooping up these discarded coins?

I once rolled up a sleeve, retrieved a £2 coin from a pool in a garden centre and pocketed it, much to the disapproval of two tutting women who were watching. Perhaps they thought that, now I’d removed the coin from the water, the magical wish would no longer come true for the hopeful person who threw it in – perhaps their grandson would remain in that coma.

Much to the horror of conspiracy theorists, we seem to be heading towards becoming a cashless society. If this should ever come to pass in the future, our days of throwing away money like this will be over. I look forward to seeing contactless pay points around every pool in every shopping mall and garden centre, where visitors can tap their bank card to deposit a pound as they pass.

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