Friday 6 November 2009


It is absolutely not good form to complain, I know, but, at my stage in life it is actually a rather scarce source of harmless fun. Indeed, I am, actually, a bit shocked to find just how much I enjoy that which I used to condemn in my Mother and her gossipy friends Anyway, the latest complaint: I was renewing something or the other. I don't even remember what, and I was asked to provide proof of residence and some photo identity. You have to be pretty well air-brushed to look anything like human on a photograph at 75+, never mind a passport-type job, but I took the medicine and posed quietly. It was the eve of Halloween which will probably explain why the machine condescended even to do its job without exploding. When it came to proof of residence, back home, I wandered down the stairs with a recent gas bill to use my fax/copier. It was out of ink so I did another wander down to the local Chemist shop to use theirs. So far, so sensible. However, I was not at all familiar with their model and, looking round for help, saw that both the Pharmacist and his assistant were deep in consultation with other callers. Alone, I pushed this and pressed that and lifted the other, all to no avail. Then, thanks to the Angel of Mechanics, who, unlike the Wizard of Cyberspace, does have some compassion towards those of us who feel pain when standing too long, a young boy came in, understood my predicament, lifted a huge lid that had looked integral to me, not at all liftable, and off to go, as we say in Wales. By the time the whole enterprise was over, I could have made a cake and even seen it come out of the oven. I was exhausted and cross. It came to me that I get so many damned bills that I needn't have bothered to make a copy; they could have had an original. I wouldn't have missed it.

If only it had ended there. A year ago, I put some money, in a fixed Bond, in to a Bank that shall remain nameless. I can't, now, remember if I have told you the following. I hope not. So boring of the elderly to repeat themselves. Anyway, I'll tell you again, in case not. This particular Bank was offering a very good rate until 3pm one Friday. A'financial' person filled in the forms on my behalf and sent them off. On that very Friday they came back to me with mistakes to be rectified. No way could such a form be posted back in time to catch the special rate. Well, Dear Reader, I filled it in , rang a mini-cab, (local car service, to those of you who kindly follow me from distant places) and dashed down to the office in the City listed on top of the form. Only, it was not an office; it was Head Office, with a locked door and no access without a pass key. I knocked, several times, I willed the Receptionist I could see through the glass doors to look at me. Nothing, nil, I did not exist, neither for him nor for the one or two privileged souls who had the pass-key to Nirvana and used it leaving me standing outside. Finally, I banged on the door with my walking stick. Now, an old lady banging on your door with her battered old stick is not a good look in the City of London. Within seconds I was let in and before you could say " and about time, too" a representative had come downstairs, with a second -" for Data Protection purposes" - and taken my cheque and my details and agreed I could have the special offer even though the branch I should have gone to was in Manchester. The preamble, long as it is, was necessary to give you the background to another bureaucratic Hell. I tried ringing them to find out how the account stood, now, at the end of a year. I was asked for my password. I dont have a password. I dont remember being given a password practically standing in the street in the City. I dont remember one coming in the post. I tried guessing. I got one letter right, one wrong. Stalemate: I could not be given details of my account without the password. I could, however, go to a branch of the Bank with photo ID and proof of residence and they could help me, there. That's where you came in. See you soon.

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