“CARD NOT ACCEPTED” bellowed the machine, spitting out my credit card. “CARD NOT ACCEPTED” it shouted again as I tried my debit card.

In the queue behind me people were craning their necks to see the miserable bankrupt who was unable to pay for his paltry basket of shopping.

Blushing, I fished in my wallet for my last £20 note and fed the impatient device. I then spent at least a minute trying to locate the £5 note in my change, which had been mysteriously dispensed at knee height, not near the coins. Some people in the queue were sniggering.

I am beginning to suspect a conspiracy.

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