These days you have to tap in for everything. In the ‘60s and ‘70s, the only tapping-in being done was by the Stasi.
Back then, coin-operated machines were the Sixties equivalent of our near cashless society (well, cashless except for the odd half-a-crown). Imagine your horror during a ‘60s Christmas dinner, together with the 365-day anticipation of getting a sixpence in your slice of pudding, only to have both cheeks pierced by an Access card. (Not very flexible now, is it?)
There was a cigarette machine on the pavement near Tooting Bec Station which, with the correct change inserted, 20 Senior Service would magically appear. For an old Penny you could watch the trains in the model shop along from that same station – you could wave every modern-day card you carried from Visa to Kidney Donor via The Tufty Club – if you didn’t have real money, you’d see no train moving.
The launderette would pose similar problems if you’d travelled back in time with your current wallet (or phone). You could try all you like, if you didn’t have a couple of shillings to buy a small packet of Tide, you’d very quickly become like Queen Elizabeth I and only wash once a year. Imagine how angry the laundrette manager would become if you thought waving the hand-set of an old Bakelite at the spin dryer would make it rotate.
There still are vending machines for those who have kept a collection of florins; these are for people who haven’t cleaned their teeth; have headaches or haven’t had a vasectomy. If you’ve still not solved the solutions of the first two, you needn’t bother with the third.
Do keep the change, waiter.