The two night camping trip had lasted just 12 hours.... We had said of course. Camping on the coldest night so far this year is not exactly my idea of a picnic. But then being parents, of the older generation: those boring old and unfashionable remnants of society that we are.... how on earth would we know anything about what might or might not entertain a teenager? Of course, I hadn't quite bargained for what I was met with as three teenage boys piled into my car whilst their "stuff" was piled into the back.
As I drove along, I smelt a faint "whiff" of alcoholic breath. "It's a good job that none of you boys are driving" I said. "I am not sure that any of you would pass a breathalyser."
We stopped at the first drop off, and unloaded the goods and the boy........ looking seriously worse for wear.
After he had gone, the other two then proceeded to tell me the real reason for their early homecoming, and it seems that my son and friend, uniquely had managed to drink, well ..... shall we say, "slightly less" than the others. "Drinking sensibly" would be too strong in the circumstances. It did appear though that they had more or less saved some of the the others' bacon. Ten boys camping and drinking far too much...... Not a pretty sight.... I was assured as I did the washing later that day, that the "debris" shall we call it, on the sleeping bag, was out of others mouths and not my own son's. "So it's all right Mum, at least it's not my sick." As Esos's friend pointed out, from a domestic viewpoint, your own son's vomit is possibly slightly easier to deal with than that of AN Other's random teenager's vomit...... LOVELY!
So that was a good start to the day... Meanwhile, life should have been rosy in one respect, as it was payday. And so, I went to check my bank statement online, so that I could make a payment to someone.
But the bank wasn't playing.... it appeared my account had been made "dormant" for no apparent reason. It was very confusing. I have had a few run ins with banks over the years, but this was the first time that the account had been made dormant....
I picked up the phone.
"Oh yes, Mrs. Lomax. I'm really sorry, but it's because you have moved house, we need to check your identity at a branch.""But I haven't moved house" said I. "I have lived in the same house for six years."
"Well it says here that a piece of post was returned to us, and so as such you need to go into the branch with a passport and address ID to verify your new name and address."
I muttered plenty about it being half term and having all the children home, and friends, and that the last thing that I had time to do right now was to drive six miles to the nearest branch. And that I DIDN'T have a new name and address.
Now.... ironically..... the "payment" that I needed to pay was to another bank account of ours. You see, Hubby and I are complete masochists. Not satisfied are we with the poor treatment of one bank, we spread our misery around and actually have a few accounts in our name.... for different purposes.... sort of.....
But, I digress... The reason that I needed to make a payment was because last Friday, we had been expecting Hubby's expenses into the "other" account, but by 2 p.m. they hadn't arrived. At this point panic mode set in, and I phoned our bank's branch. This particular branch is the NatWest, who uniquely amongst the banking fraternity seem to have worked out that customers are actually people. Well, mostly. At least, the manager at our particular branch has worked that out. So, as long as you phone in banking hours, and ask to speak to the Ross on Wye branch Manager you will get completely human treatment.
And so it was that I rang her last Friday. "One of our payments is going to bounce." I had said. "We need to cancel something quickly otherwise it will cost us £35.." She and I agreed a strategy to cancel something, and she meanwhile recommended that we also change our insurance company and managed to save us £40 a month into the bargain. Clever woman.
Roll forward to Monday...... the day that the said payment was due to go out. The money was in the account (late, but there) after all. I rang Mrs. Bank Manager again. "Don't worry she said. It's not too late. I can uncancel it and it can be paid."
But lo and behold.... Head Office Natwest thought differently, and despite there being funds in place, and despite Mrs. BM having "paid" the bill, they decided not to pay the bill.....
To cut a long story short, by the time I had caught up with this company and paid the bill, they had charged me extra for the privilege, and the bottom line was that we were just £3.50 short to pay our final bill of the month. We run a very tight ship in the Lomax bank accounts, despite what the banks actually think. We move Heaven and earth to try to avoid those £35 charges, but usually fail at the last hurdle.... It's a tough game they play. If we were in the days of Robin Hood, they would probably be the Sheriff of Nottingham....... but sadly there is no Robin to get those charges back. Yet....... (But just you wait Mr. Sheriff the law could be changing......)
The hassle that that £3.50 caused me....
I feel really a bit sorry for the banks really. It must be quite tough being overdrawn by
£40, 000000000. Their charges must be phenomenal.
So this is why I was in Ross on Wye at 4 p.m. this afternoon, literally running from one bank to another.
The first bank were sorting out if I was indeed a real person and if the passport that I was carrying was indeed me and if I had, as I said I had (although I appreciate that my word cannot be trusted without the robotic quoting of fifteen letters and numbers), lived in the same house for 6 years, and been married for 22. Or if in fact I was really a hologram with a false passport.... It must have its uses at times, being a hologram with a false passport, but um.... not in Ross on Wye on a Thursday afternoon................
I left them to it and asked them to phone me once they had decided if I was allowed to spend my salary or not this month....
Meanwhile, having raided the dog's piggy bank (the children's having been long since been spent out) for the last few coppers in the house, I went to the Natwest and paid in the necessary funds to allow the bill to be paid when it is requested very shortly......
And there I found out that not only had Friday's direct debit not been paid, but that that particular direct debit now remained cancelled and that the NatWest were unable to reset it up ............ because.................... the company that had needed paying had cancelled the direct debit themselves.
You will be........
(Answers in a postage stamp (or in the comments box) please for which programme that last little quote came from, and when.....)