The Bank that likes to say Nope


So we set off for Normandy, using the Le Shuttle tickets we’d booked last year but couldn’t use on the basis that I’d stupidly suffered a stroke and there are rules in La Belle France against driving down L’Autoroute when suffering a hemorrhage of a vein or artery whilst driving your motor at 100km per hour or over. Picky froggy bastards.

So off we went, : Drove from Dartford (sparrow’s) – Folkestone; Sat in the train from Folkestone to Calais; then on the marvellous French toll roads for 5-odd hours until we reach our destination. We knew it would be a bit tiring, and agreed to fill up with fuel, coca cola, croque monsieur etc half way down.

We drove (I drove), we paid the tolls (The Incumbent paid the tolls) I drove some more. At about 1:30 I was beginning to feel a tad esurient and suggested we stop at the next filling station. The guv’nor agreed. So we did. It was one of those garages which encourages you to pay (by card) at the pump as opposed to paying at the till inside. Being a New European (remember, this was before the Olympic Games, before we just said: “fuck everybody else, we’re alright on our own, thankyouverymuch”) I tried to get on with la meme-chose-Continental (I have no idea if that actually means anything, I just thought it looked good).

And that’s where it went horribly wrong.

In went my card, in went the petrol nozzle, and in went the gas (unleaded of course). Out came the nozzel and I looked at the LED screen on the pump, which read….

nothing.

“Oh !” thinks me  :”Buggeration !”.

In the way of a Greenwich Council worker I pressed a few buttons very hard, several times but the screen was in the language of yer Johnny Foreigner, and here was nothing on the screen in the Queen’s English to tell me if I’d paid or if I hadn’t. Bollox.

(Readers new to The Sharp Single will be placated to know that The Sharp Single’s pet hate is Englishmen who refuse to speak foreign languages. I try, I’m just no bloody good at it).

I had two choices: Assume ( as any good colonialist would) that I had paid (I am BRITISH, after all) and, like Montgomery before me, drive off in the general direction of southern Normandy. This would, of course risk being caught by Le Fuzz (no-one wants that) for not paying at all.

or

Wasting four precious minutes by confirming with the girl behind the till in the shop that I had indeed paid, and could legally leave the forecourt. Again, being British, I chose the belt-and-braces option.

“Bonjour Monsieur” I addressed the young lady. “Parlez-vous Anglais?”

“Non” Elle replyment.

Oh bugger. I continued with my fluency:

“Je pense que jai donnez lui les argent pour le gaz, mais est ce possible pour vous regardez le screen de confirmez”. (That O-level French wasn’t wasted after all.)

“Un moment monsieur”.  She then went to find someone who spoke fluent Klingon, who then went to find a consummate bollox speaker. Eventually, someone who claimed to understand me came into the booth.

“Hello Sir. How can I help you ?”

Phew. I explained that I thought that I had paid, but didn’t… well, you know …

She checked the screen, and looked at the records for my pump.

“No Sir, you haven’t paid for your gasoline.”

Cool. Thank Buddah I checked. I handed over my card and she took €80.01 from my account. Phew (again). We continued on our journey.

We had a lovely time, thankyouverymuch. We visited Plastered of Paris (of this Parish) and Mr Horrible‘s (ditto) pad on the coast and it was truly lovely. When you have spent the best part of 18 months cooped up in the Allotment of England you appreciate these sort of things. We had to do it on the cheap as the Tees aren’t selling in the millions that I’d imagined, and the missus is work-shy (yes, I will pay for that).

On my return to Blighty, I immediately checked my bank account: I was stunned (not really) to discover that I was overdrawn. On further investigation I noticed that a petrol station in France had charged me €80.01 TWICE within 6 minutes. I was less than chuffed. I’m sure you can imagine.

No matter. I immediately got onto the phone to my bank NatWest (you know NatWest:- they’re owned by RBS – that lot run by Stephen Hester – look him up – I can’t be arsed any more – who may or may not be in contention for the Biggest Crook of the year 2012 (against Newbold Coe and R.Murdoch).

The girl answered, and after several security questions asked how she could help. This was good ! I thought.

I told her my plight and my worries. Before I could get too involved she interrupted and said she was transferring me to the “Fraud” department. I’d never thought fraud was involved, just a mistake. But, okay ! I’m game. That’ll teach those Frogs a lesson for …erm…Crécy…Agincourt..or something.

“Hello Mr Bealing, how can I help ?” said the man from the Fraud Dept. It was the second time I’d been asked, and you know how patient I am, but I told him anyway.

“…so you see from my statement that €80.01 has been taken out of my account TWICE within minutes. It’s clearly a mistake and I’d like it back. Can you help ?”

“…silence…”

“It’s sixty quid” I added as if it would persuade him to help.

“…silence...”

“hello…?”   had he nodded off ? I wondered.

finally

“Ok Mr Bealing, I see your statement. Do you have the receipt ?”

Hong Kong Phewey !! “Yes, actually I do !!!” (I was finally feeling pleased with myself).

“For both transactions?” he added.

“Sorry ?” (I wasn’t finally feeling pleased with myself).

“Have you the receipt for both amounts removed from your account ?” he pressed.

“No but they are on my statement, as you can see, The two un-random amounts of €80.01 removed from my account within minutes of each other. It’s clearly a mistake” I offered.

“Oh!” he almost sounded crestfallen.
“So you only have a receipt for one of the transactions ?”

“…silence...”

“Mr Bealing ?” I think he thought I’d gone.

I composed myself, with al the dignity I could muster: ” So you are asking me if I have a receipt for a transaction which, at the time, I never knew took place ? Is that was you are seriously asking me ?”

“er…yes…”

“Oddly, no I haven’t. I don’t have a bill for something I didn’t know I’d paid for. I feel such a fool” I began chewing the leg of the table.

I think he knew where I was coming from.

“I know you won’t want to hear this, Mr Bealing, but I’m afraid, I’m unable to help you. You need to take it up with the Petrol Station in France”

I’m unsure of what my response was. I know I was livid, my head spinning and I was trying desperately not to take it all out on the young lad on the other end of the line. I do remember asking him :

“Where or when, in this year of RBS fuck-ups, Your system going down and making my direct debits miss deadline, Bankers Criminality and City Fraudsters do you (and I’m not taking out on you, Sonny, just your employers) get off telling me that you cannot help me ???? You and I know that a conversation, in French, with a garage on a French motorway will never take place. But the fact that, so swiftly, your guidelines tell you that you cannot help me – even in the face of blindingly obvious evidence – that an error (not in my favour) has been committed sums up you lot to a tee. If I had the money to pay off my overdraft with you I would and keep my money under the sink. You are all a bunch of cvnts (present company excepted). Go Fvck yourself you robbing bastards.

It was something like that.

“…silence...”

And it’s been silence ever since.

1066 and All That


LATE RESULT:
England   –   0   vrs   1  –   Normandy
Strauss-Khan  AET
ATT: 59,501

By John Moatson in Hastings
14th October 1066

Here this evening the English suffered yet another in a long line of humiliating defeats at the hands of the unfancied Normandians when an extra-time clincher was grasped by veteran shooter, Dominique Strauss-Khan, sending the home side down to what seems to be a final, crushing blow.  For much of the early action, Strauss-Khan’t had gone missing, concentrating his efforts on his controversial “rape and pillage” tactics, particularly the former. But when an unreliable serving-wench (and some clearly mad slapper scribe) shouted foul, Dominique returned to doing what he does best: sticking his balls in the old onion bag (whatever her name is).

The Citing Committee have since decided that as all that nastiness may or may not have happened over two hours ago, Mr Strauss-Can has no case to answer.

William wins the toss and decides to play with the wind

From the outset the Frenchmen were not considered a threat, such was the animosity between the players and the coach during the warm-up, and the amount of  money they, along with the Holy Roman Empire, have recently had to stump-up to bail out the non-tax paying scroungers of the ancient world. So the English were hoping their opposition would be distracted, but you never know which French side will turn up. Gallic flair, so loved by commentators and Bob Symonds alike, was brought to the fore and after early hiccups, had the English on the back foot.

The English, to be fair, were in disarray from the beginning. Their chief tactician The Silver Fox, (or Le Renard Fraude, as the French know him) had decided to listen more to his close friend and confidant, Squire Werritty, than any of the battle-hardened knights around him. It was clear that Werritty had seen little of real action before and seemed only interested what was in it for him, his sponsors, the Children of Israel, and other generous peoples across the oceans, yet to be discovered.

Le Twin carefully places his waste Defence memos in a public bin. Pic: Ye Monthly Mirror

The English Cavalry were also ineffectual, their horses refusing to budge, the knights having been banned this very morning from administering the whip or spurs to encourage forward movement from their charges. The infantry seemed as if they had been drinking of too much of the mead, or kissing of the Dwarf the night before. All this as well as reports that the Normans had discovered vital English tactical information in a nearby park wastebin, apparently deposited there by some feckless English nobleman (the oddly Gallicly-named Le Twin) have thus far been totally rejected by team manager Johnno the Huge-Disappointment. Johnno added that if England could next time pick more Samoans and New Zealanders, they might just have a chance of winning.

Whatever the reasons for their downfall, it wasn’t long before the English were down by one-King-to-nil as the Norman strike partnership of Strauss-Khunt and Waine Le Rue Née picked out the English figurehead, and it was one in the eye for them. In truth, Harold was not hard to pick out, he being the only one on the field of play wearing German kit. Shortly after, Le Rue Née was asked to leave the field, being deemed to be too violent and stupid to take part. Waine was originally picked for the English squad, but in an interview later he stated that he didn’t mind which “fookin side” he played for as long as he could kick some “fooking coonts up the arse”. It is assumed he will be offered the post of Commissioner of the soon-to-be-formed Metropolitan Police.

Shoulda Gone to Specsavers

The one consolation to England from losing this day to the Normans is that it saves the embarrassment of losing to the Welsh (which this mob surely would) in the next round the following week. Two questions remain for the English Press Barons: Have the Normans peaked too early?; and has conquering King William married the wrong sister?

Very much so, in fact.

Lost in Translation


sad

Welcome back after the break.

“Where have you been?” I don’t hear you ask. Well here and there really, and mainly at work—which continues to pile on the hours stopping me from visiting one of her majesty’s hostelries, but more of work later.

Last Saturday, The Incumbent and I travelled on the EuroRattler to Gay Paris. It was my birthday weekend, and where better to celebrate it? The young lovers along the Seine; La Tour d’Eiffel; Le Metro; The Crap Pound vrs the Euro. We stayed with Trev and Sylvie (previously featured here) and had arranged to meet Mr Horrible (ditto) for an adult, sedate, celebration of the 45th anniversary of my birth.

I’d been hoping to deliver to Mr Horrible a gift which I ordered eons ago in part repayment for his kind loaning of his apartment in Normandy, earlier in the year. Sadly, it never arrived. Amazon keep telling me it’ll be here soon, but by the time they say they’ll dispatch it, the postmen will be warming themselves by the braziers outside Mount Pleasant, Mr Mandelson will be warming himself by god-knows-who and my package will disappear into the ether, lost for all money.

No matter, after a long and wrong afternoon in Trev’s flat, with just the four of us, the cat (yes, the cat) and enough cheese, pate and vintage vin to feed a BNP rally in Hertfordshire. Four Quatre Bon Viveurs and a chat, which, incidentally is what nearly did when I saw him. No worries, we batted and slurped on, and apart from losing the power of my eyes due to my chat allergy the evening went swimmingly and nothing untoward happened even when we went down the local eaterie later on, just in case we hadn’t troughed enough.

Dawn broke and we started again. Pressies and Poo for brekkie and we’re off on the toot again, where Monsieur Horride would join us for an afternoon nibble. Unfortunately he came too late to fully appreciate my wit and wisdom. The occasion had got the better of me and I was a tad elephants. I think he joined us just after the first mixed crate of cheeky blanc and rouge had been quaffed and within seconds of his arrival I’d lost the power of my legs and nez-dived into his crotch. He being American may do things differently to us back home, but I suspect even in upstate Nebraska (that’s a guess, and one I’ll pay for later) that the traditional thank you for lending a mate your apartment is probably not getting snuffled in the goolies by a bald Limey.

I picked myself up, dusted myself off and started all over again. A little later, back at Trev’s flat, I collapsed across the coffee table, into the take-away Chinese meal, which the girls had been enjoying. I’d lost the power of my legs twice in two hours. A mere 45 years old and I’ve already forgotten how to walk and how to drink. Bollocks. I was kinda hoping to quite a bit more of both before I snuff it.

Back in Blighty on Tuesday morning and not feeling at my peak, I get the fab news that everyone else in the world has called in sick and I am to run the main desk at work, which apart from anything else, means finding a front page photo, as well as overseeing every news pic in the paper that day. Not having done this sort of thing in about 15 years (and I’m not sure I was very good then), and having been on the slurp for three days previously doesn’t seem to be the ideal prep. Courage, mon ami.

leaving

The Leaving Time Magazine Speech

To be honest, as first days go, it wasn’t a complete disaster, all the pics went in the right way up, and The Times didn’t go bust overnight. There was one steaming turd in the water tank though: During the 12 hours I was in work that day, I lost a cufflink. Not just any cufflink, but one the Incumbent had given me as a Birthday present just two days earlier. Sod it. Sod it, sod it, sod it. In truth, when I told her, she took it better than I did. And, in truth, I’m still a little upset about it. But as none of my senses were working at their full capacity, I don’t suppose it’s completely surprising that everything didn’t go completely smoothly. I least I passed my inaugural newsroom test without completely fucking-up. I shall replace the cufflinks.

So that was my week. Nothing groundbreaking, just thought I’d catch up with you (my daughter Lucy complained that I was slacking).

No hang on, there was something else. Now what was it? Oh yes, I remember now: I lost $2,500 tonight. Wanna read that again? Two-and-a-half-thousand-dollars. U.S.

As my regular reader in will know I used to work from a different bunch of Yanks than I do now. That last lot used to give out stock options. And the longer you worked there, and the higher up the ladder you went, the more stock options they granted you. Since our friends in the city (hello boys) fucked it up for the rest of us last year, my options have been worth nothing. Not a sausage. Bugger all. But just as I plotted my escape from TIME, the price started gradually creeping up again. I’d get occasional letters from New York informing me of their progress, and like most of my kind (fat, old, lazy, er.. bloke) left the letters in that special place on the sideboard where all letters with windows stay.

Then, for reasons unfathomable to me, on Tuesday night I opened the latest one. There it was. There in black and cream I read I was worth, in their eyes at least, around $2,500. Quick-as-a-flash (well, 24 hours later) I dug out (well, The Incumbent dug out) my pin numbers and rushed home (well, after the pub) and called New York immediately (well, after we had tea). Stunned that I got though to the department I needed, and flabbergasted that I had indeed got all the information she needed from me, I was even more elated to hear the girl at the other end tell me that my options had elapsed on “10/3”. Sadly, that’s October 3rd, not March 10th. They were now nul-and-void. Worth nothing.

Bugger.

perpy

I have to go to IKEA at the weekend to buy a new door for the kitchen cabinet which I kicked several times very hard moments after I put the phone down. Hope I haven’t lost my wallet.