14 August 2011

Dear Sophisticated Ladies

 Seldom am I so angry that I physically shake; in fact I never really believed that this was possible, but I can (unhappily) confirm that it can! What has invoked this sorry state I hear you ask? Well you won’t be surprised to hear that the culprit is a high street bank. Mr Cameron has no idea how stressful the Big Society can be! Oops a bit of a leap there ladies! How are the banks and the Big Society connected? I have previously written about my voluntary activity in the form of the Magdalena Project of which I am chair. Not having an artistic involvement in theatrical performance – not professionally at least as I confess I too have the capacity to be a drama queen (now perhaps being an example) – my role in the Project is administrative.

 Using my ‘special’ skills I lead on the finding of money that theatre professional colleagues spend. The Magdalena Project Board members have put together a six day festival ‘Legacy and Challenge’ to celebrate the 25th anniversary.  Our own Silver Jubilee will be in Chapter next week – included in the programme is a concert in Llandaff Cathedral (19 August) at 8 pm. Voix Polyphonic, a French group of professional singers will perform ‘Black Sea Songs’ and for a mere £10 you too could come and help us celebrate. (Tickets available from Chapter (our festival partner).

In preparation for the festival I logged into the bank to see if various payments had been made. Imagine my surprise (not) when the log in screen did not have the details of the account I added on four days ago. So I resort to telephone to ask when I might expect the secrets of our account to be revealed. Now we’re getting to the good bit!

 Having found my way through the security questions I couldn’t possibly answer without access to the information currently being ‘withheld’ I get rewarded with a real person. Said real person had evidently been on a course in the art of asking a cryptic question; enhanced by either a hangover or extreme ennui! If the experience of being an employee is anything like that of a customer then I should be more sympathetic but frankly that’s not my problem!

 Real person uttered the terrifying statement ‘I need to put you on hold for a few minutes’; this is never good. Returning I am told that the account does not exist although given that I haven’t at this point given the relevant numbers I am mystified as to how this conclusion has been reached. So I give the account details and the terrifying statement is uttered once more. Returning I am told that my name is not on the account; in effect I don’t exist either!

This is the point where I start vibrating; as one of the normal background factors to my life is shaking I am surprised I can feel the difference but oh yes I can! So my next line of attack, by which of course I mean route to the information I need, is to phone the (Assistant) Bank Manager. The helpful gentleman has the curious name of Proudman; in my mind he is an old fashioned mummy’s boy who wears a hand knitted tank top!

 Mr P is busy on another call and I reach his answer phone. Taking a deep breath I put on my ‘posh on steroids’ voice and leave a message. Included in the recording Mr P will receive is the phrase ‘excuse my French but I am fucking livid’! OK it was far from sophisticated but I had reached the end of my proverbial tether; Mr P will rightly be afraid, if he’s a wise boy he will be VERY afraid! I have outlined my demands clearly and succinctly; there is no room for ambiguity. Or so I thought. When Mr P phones me several hours later he wants to make sure he understands the situation! He tries to placate me with the suggestion that he emails me daily to let me know the movement on the two accounts. It’s a solution but does not actually resolve the problem; a problem the bank has created.

 Later in the day I have reason to speak to one of my fellow Board Members who tells me he had spoken to Mr P earlier in the day; in fact just after Mr P had received my message. Mr P tells my colleague that I am ‘spitting feathers’! This is the second time I have be the subject of intra bank conversation; the first time when I first met the Bank Manager. I usually find it prudent to tell people the reason why I walk with crutches as it saves embarrassment later down the line. The Bank Manager informs me that his colleague (who set up the account) had mentioned my MS to him already. Hmm I know this probably happens but surely this was background intelligence which he didn’t need to let on that he had been given. It makes me think about how I describe people in casual conversation; the details that are relevant, pertinent and not just salacious. As the clique goes ‘forewarned is forearmed’. Secretly I harbour the desire to be infamous rather than famous; the latter of course being relative!

 So the Festival starts officially on Tuesday and I am bracing myself for a combination of physically and intellectual exhaustion. I am charged with facilitating a series of conversations including the final session about the future. Right now having found out that I am probably having someone to stay for the week I need to tidy the spare bedroom.

 The ongoing problem with the toilet seat now seems more urgent; the over designed bowl/base means it is virtually impossible to get the seat off. Even the builder couldn’t do it and said he’d come back when he had some time to dedicate to it. Of course he has been busy and the problem remains unresolved; not a problem when it’s just me but a tad embarrassing when someone is coming to stay. Perhaps the visitor has small hands and could sort it out; would this be an unreasonable request I wonder?

 On a more exciting note I have finally succumbed to a Kindle! In fact such was my enthusiasm (or technical incompetence) I bought two! No wonder the order tracking system wouldn’t tell me where the parcel I had missed was. The two orders had the same number and arrived in the same box! I must remember to check if I was charged for two sets of postage.

 My new electronic reading device lives in a red leather case with integrated light. It has exceeded my expectations especially where newspapers are concerned. I have a 14 day free trial of the Guardian and Observer; the main omission being the crossword which is a bit of a disappointment. I am really enjoying reading the news first thing; the wifi connection delivers the paper like a personal delivery person!

 The ease of purchasing from the on line shop will need to be monitored as it is too easy to buy at the touch of a button – no need to enter payment details if you already have an Amazon account! The temptation to download free out of copyright stuff one will never read simply cannot be resisted! Free subscriptions to ‘never before heard of publications’ are a particular itch I am compelled to scratch!

 Well I am pleased with the positive feedback from readers of Me and Mr Putin has motivated me to continue with this new endeavour. See the latest episode One Moment of Glorious Moment under Me and Mr Putin. The real Mr Putin has excelled himself this week; during a diving expedition, (excuse to be photographed in a wetsuit me thinks), Vlad discovered some ancient relics on the bed of the ocean. Commentators point out that the pottery urns were remarkably free of seaweed or other signs of centuries immersed in water!

In sophistication

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