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.

Sausage casserole meal

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.


  1. I have to say I had good service from a bank today. I reported a transaction on my credit card that I didn’t recognise and they immediately blocked it and made a refund. Ten minutes later I realised that I had been a bit trigger happy and it was in fact a legitimate repeat annual transaction. I phoned to apologise for my mistake. No music by the way. Nationwide Building Society/Bank.

  2. Derrick, I can totally relate to these bank, hold, musuc, wait, hold, more music calls for assistance. That’s when I am at my worst behavior. The poor customer service rep at the other end has to then deal me and believe me, the longer I wait and the more time I am put back on hold the less pleasant I become!

  3. Derrick, I can totally relate to these bank, hold, musuc, wait, hold, more music calls for assistance. That’s when I am at my worst behavior. The poor customer service rep at the other end has to then deal me and believe me, the longer I wait and the more time I am put back on hold the less pleasant I become!

  4. Oh dear Derrick- between your banks and your reading you have had a bad day! Banking in the UK was a nightmare in the early 90’s and not much seems to have changed. My advice is to leave banks and keep your assets under the mattress. πŸ™‚ I say this despite the fact that my bank here (Kiwibank) does not behave badly and does not charge any fees.

  5. Drabness dominates us all at times…sympathy and may tomorrow be better. That novella sounds interesting and cover is excellent. In Detroit during the “long hot summer of 1967” the riots were vicious. My brother lived not far from the area at the time and experienced fear that summer–and frequent violence around and near his house. I lived in a northern Detroit suburban town decades later and downtown –“below 8 Mile”– was still a place riven with economic and racial disparity and social conflicts although the riots stopped long before.

  6. What a frustrating day you had, Derrick! You’ve had some heavy, if thoughtful, reading lately, too. I’m glad you have colorful dinners to enjoy. πŸ™‚

  7. When I first arrived in England and tried to open a bank account the process was so difficult I practically needed a letter from the PM, or at least a priest. LOL. I was told they were more sophisticated than colonial banks. Sophisticated or not, they are all frustrating. We have a royal commission into their practices at the moment. We’ve been with a credit union for decades. It’s roots are with the maritime industry. Very personal service and high satisfaction rate.

  8. I’m so sorry you had such a frustrating day, Derrick. Big banks came be a royal pain. Fortunately, I have a very good bank, one I’ve been with for 40+ years. Of course they’ve changed names a zillion times after being taken over by the bigger guy. Ugh…I hear you on the music and recorded waiting message. I’d rather have silence! I hope tomorrow is a better day.

    1. Nice point about silence, Jill. πŸ™‚ I have been with NatWest until before its current manifestation – 58 years to be precise. That doesn’t cut any ice now. Thanks very much

  9. The food looks lucious and bright. The reading, not so much. And the banking business? Argh!

  10. With banks, there is always good and bad … and yet the bad is often left to ferment and expand in an unattented quagmire of bureaucracy…. May the money trolls be with you!

  11. That is really irritating, when you are online and wait to hear a human voice at the other end of the line. It’s not just banks that do this, some utility companies are into it too.

  12. Derrick – what a frustrating time with the banks. I have no patience when I feel my time is being wasted.

    Interesting book talk. I literally sobbed my way through Schindler’s List – the movie.

  13. Who can understand your feelings better than me? I am sick of the fancy ideas the ‘top management’ keeps throwing at us to grapple and spar with, forcing us to sort out the mire with the customers. There is an absolute disconnection between reality and those fancy pants who seem to be playing a game of doll’s house in lieu of obscene paypackets even as the earthlings of lower echelons toil and sweat.

    1. Uma I can, so relate to your comment, and I was working in social work, our ‘top management’ did just the same and with no consultation with those of us on the ‘front line’ who were trying to deal with families in crisis, so cruel. All to save money.

  14. Dang Derrick, I wanna come eat at your house!!! I’m so sorry you had a bad day grappling with the bank people. I hope your evening was much much better!!! πŸ™‚ <3

  15. Umm – perhaps not all your money and maybe not under the mattress either but it is wise to hold on to some cash in case the ATM refuses to spit out your withdrawal. It happens. I try not to hate but 0h yes, I hate banks.

  16. I feel for you Derrick. I’ve had drama after drama with banks lately. We’re in the process of refinancing and streamlining and whilst I’m sure it’ll all work out in the end the process has all been rather stressful. Hope you have a better weekend and you enjoy your reading.

  17. Always remember Derrick, there is a highly paid CEO in every Bank, whose only role is tape record messages and select soothing placating music, my sympathies mate but a fact of life with new technology, cheers.

  18. I just wonder if I like your post, does it mean I like the bank drama or the way it is solved. Anyways it sounds like dealing with banks in India. They are really hopless. Good luck with selling procedure in France and your appointment on Monday.

  19. Sounds as if you required lots of Patience during all of these exchanges Derrick, Nothing worse than having to go through loops and tedious music before we speak to a REAL person..
    Your meal looks very yummy Derrick.. And at last the fog has lifted after two days of it, Sadly the cloud has not lifted.. And still chilly here to say the time of year only 6C today.. compared with 12C a few days ago..
    Wishing you a lovely weekend Derrick.. πŸ™‚

  20. Derrick, after six visits (one a month) to my former bank to attempt to get someone to close a checking account which I was being charged 12.60 a month for, I lost it. I said, “Damn it. This is ridiculous.” The teller called the police. The policeman issued me a warning for CRIMINAL TRESPASS. I was aghast having never had anything to do with a policeman in my life. I had to look up what criminal trespass was. It meant that when she told me she wouldn’t wait on me because I said “damn,” I said, “I’m not leaving until my checking account is closed.” I guess one can’t do that. I framed the warning. They did close my checking account. Hope all is well with you and Jackie.

    1. Good grief, Ginene. When you can actually go into a bank and not have them sort out stuff that is even worse than having to deal with it all on the phone or on line. Always good to hear from you. Many thanks

    1. Oh, I laughed at this one, Quercus. In the case of NatWest, certainly, because their online service, which the messages kept encouraging me to use, was down for the whole day. Thanks a lot.

  21. So wonderful that you shared, “Silence,” Derrick. It has been awhile but this and “Malcolm X” were so deeply moving to me. . .
    The hard fact of my situation with a blog once again not able to upload photos from my own phone, both processes supposed to be easy, but Verizon blames WordPress. . . Not the same frustration but lengthy similar periods of time “lost” when I so rarely am home.
    My cable company twice caused me to pick up and return cables, boxes and finally a two hour “window” for waiting on Saturday for a cable technician. . .another frustrating endeavor.
    So, misery likes company, but also regrets that either of us had to put up with such! ? ?

  22. Thank you for investigation into the artist! This is very professional and I appreciate when this extra effort is made when quoting, displaying photos or art and lastly, giving credit to those who help. You go the extra mile, Derrick.
    I am not caught up yet but must go off soon. . . Have a lovely week ahead and the rest of today, Jackie and Derrick. ❀️? ?

  23. Whenever possible, I avoid contacting banks – although I must say, Natwest isn’t bad at all. Sorry for your experience, Derrick. I hope the situation gets sorted soon.
    The book sounds interesting. I’ve never heard if it, but sounds like it’s worth a read.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: