I hate banks. Between them, two have wasted my morning.
First, I received a phone call from Barclays in France. I was €200 overdrawn. How was that when I had transferred plenty by Urgent on-line Transfer on 4th? My conversation with the caller led us to the realisation that Barclays France had changed BIC and IBAN numbers without telling me.
Why did this not surprise me? This would not be the first time they had made changes without notifying me. One example was transferring my account from Bergerac to Paris. There have been other issues. NatWest don’t operate in France. So I was stuck with Barclays.
When I had finished with the Frenchman, I checked my on-line statement. Sure enough the payment appeared on it. This meant a call to NatWest who were experiencing more than usual demand. This meant listening to music and robotic apologies for ages. Eventually I heard the voice of a real person. He was very helpful, but he had to liaise with another department several times. More music. And more music. Although the payment request had been received it didn’t work with the older BIC and IBAN, so it was in the hands of an investigative department. The advisor took the new details.
Because this last conversation had taken so long I received three timing out prompts on the computer. Each time I took the ‘stay on line’ option.
At the end of the call I found I couldn’t obtain any response from NatWest on line banking.
I telephoned once more. More music; more warnings about heavy demand; suggestions that I might like to try the on-line service. Eventually I was answered by someone in another department who tried various options to unravel the problem. This time liaising with his on-line colleagues. More music, each time; more apologies, etc., etc. Finally he told me they were experiencing technical problems affecting lots of customers. This, of course, was why there was so much demand. He advised me to try again later in the day.
Just as we made our farewells. My helper received a prompt advising him to try to interest me in an ISA. He was not able to.
Leaden skies have made for a very dull day on which the sun never opened its oppressive grey drapes.
Scotland’s acclaimed novelist, James Kennaway died in a car crash, believed to have been brought on by a heart attack, in 1968. He was 40 years old. His visceral, nightmarish, novella, ‘Silence’, was published in 1972 through the administrations of his widow, Susan. I read the final pages this afternoon. It is perhaps fortuitous that I picked it off my shelves after having finished reading ‘Schindler’s Ark’. Both deal with extremes of humanity’s violence; Kennaway sets his work of fiction in times of racial tension in America during the 1960s; Keneally’s style is far more factual. In the novella two races are equally violent; in the faction one is hell bent on destroying the other. Fifty years on we are beset by news of racial hatred and the atrocities it promotes, and the euphemism ‘ethnic cleansing’ has come into world languages. I have scanned both covers of my 1977 Penguin edition. Accessing the gallery with a click should, if necessary, make the blurbs easier to read. The portrait was made by Harri Peccinotti.
This evening we dined on Jackie’s colourful sausage casserole, crisp carrots and broccoli, and creamy mashed potato and swede. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Camino Nuevo.