April 10, 2015 by Michael Madden

What’s In A Name?

A quiet day started in whimsical fashion, as our attention turned to kittens. I recalled two white cats from childhood. One was called Susie, and the other Gemima. Sally looked surprised. “Gemima’s a duck’s name,” she argued as we continued our search for Zac’s future feline companion.

I got an email from Easyjet, apologising for the delay caused by the French Air Traffic Control strike. They failed to apologise for the first two hours of that delay that was caused by their own planes, and they also failed to apologise for the inability of their own staff to read simple documentation (see earlier entries). I really must write that letter!

Time to go out, with Sally heading for the stables and me to HSBC bank. I did not want to go to the bank – they said I had to. I wanted to open a Euro account, so that my Dutch colleagues could pay me in their native currency, and as I already have a US dollar account I thought it would be very straightforward. A couple of weeks ago I turned up at Buxton expecting it all to be sorted. But no, Buxton is now the banking equivalent of a corner shop, and does not do anything so grand as account opening. My business adviser is now based in Birmingham. “That will be a long trip up for him,” I told the po faced teller. She didn’t see the funny side, and came close to suggesting that I would have to got to the midlands to meet him, until I pointed out that NatWest was just across the way. So, she gave me a number to ring, and when I got home I rang it. In the short space of time that elapsed between Buxton and Whaley Bridge the number had changed, and so had the service. I would have to go to my branch. I pointed out that it was my branch that gave me the number that I was now on the phone to, but they uttered the word “Buxton” with a contempt matched only by the reaction of the staff in the Canal Street Post Office when a customer requests a first class stamp.

However, there was hope. They would set up an appointment at Macclesfield, much closer than Birmingham. So yesterday I got an email from Macclesfield asking me to bring photo id and proof of address, preferably a utility bill. I explained that I do not do utility bills, and that my HSBC bank account statements (which you used to send to me at my address), were all online. I do, however, get my business bank account statements sent to my home address. Could I bring one of those as proof, or could you just look on your computer system so that you can verify that that is where you send them? Or how about a mortgage statement? Sorry, that’s in joint names? Tufty club annual membership? Just bring your photo id, was the rather terse reply!

So I made it to Macclesfield, and two signatures later my application was complete. The man explained that it is much easier to do it in branch than online. I explained that I do not normally sit for 20 minutes burning fuel before and after using my online banking. The humour was lost on him, then I remembered Zac’s online account. Can you set it up for online banking? Last time I asked they said he had to ring up – and he’s only 11. Of course, the man replied. He took down the details and said he would deal with it immediately.

You could not make this next bit up! Sure enough he dealt with it immediately. By the time I got home he had emailed me to tell me that Zac would have to go into branch to set up a telephone banking number before he could use online banking. WTF?

Sad news that Richie Benaud has died. Nothing remarkable about that, he was a ripe old age and got unlucky with the big C, which is sad in itself, and its another link with my childhood broken. A link that the dreadful remake of Thunderbirds so spectacularly failed to establish. But I digress!

Back at home the search for the kitten continued, including calls to Macclesfield and Dove Holes (again), but to no avail. I decided to go for a ride on my bike, so I took my rucksack and headed for Tesco. I usually plan the shopping so I don’t overfill the rucksack, a great way to limit spending. But then Tesco have a 2 for 1 offer on crisps and the sack is bulging. Those bananas may well be a bit bruised by the time I get back home. A quick stop off at the vet’s to check for a kitten, not yet, try again in a few weeks, and its back to Walter’s Wood, where the last weekday of the school holiday is in full flow. “Zac’s on his X-Box,” called ‘Supergrass’ Ole. “Zac – come off there now. You’re not allowed it until 4 o’clock,” wailed the banshee that used to be Sally. “You might as well play football with me,” reasoned Ole, but a slam of Zac’s door indicated his refusal. I got them together and it seemed that Zac only wanted to play on the trampoline, but Ole only wanted to play on the grass. Ole had previously played on the trampoline with Zac in return to some mutual grass time, but then something had happened (it usually does) and Zac quite literally wouldn’t play ball. Ole told me to make him, then Zac played his trump card, pulling up his sleeve to reveal a round bruise inflicted upon him by Ole some weeks ago. Ole was shocked that he still brought that bruise up, and I’m not convinced that Zac is not deliberately inflaming the bruise to keep it, shall we say, up his sleeve. Anyway, the arguments continued until I got them to agree to 15 minute slots, starting with ┬ásome one on one football on the grass, and followed by another 15 minutes on the trampoline. Approximately 38 seconds later the game had stopped as Zac had been fouled by Ole, but the referee (Ole) had not given it. In situations like these its only the threat of the complete removal of the X-Box that ever comes close to working, so that’s what happened and the arguments eventually subsided. Watching on from a safe distance away from the boys was Sally, whose eyes were gradually glazing over as she watched the station clock tick ever so slowly towards 4pm on Sherry Friday.