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.

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How to Cock Up Like Hester


“There was a period of remorse and apology for banks and I think that period needs to be over…I really resent the fact that you refer to this as blackjack or casino banking or rogue trading,” Barclays’ Diamond Bob goes on the attack at the Treasury Select Committee, 11th Jan 2012

“The reports in the media this morning are both inaccurate and premature.” RBS denies reports of £1m-plus bonus Stephen Hester, 18th Jan 2012

(SKY NEWS) Stephen Hester is to get a bonus of almost £1m, a figure which has drawn criticism of pay deals at the taxpayer-funded institution. Stephen Hester is to get 3.6 million shares in the bank worth £963,000, along with a salary of £1.2m. RBS group chairman Sir Philip Hampton said the company was “aware of the difficulties in trying to reconcile the competing objectives of all our stakeholders”, especially on pay. RBS doesn’t deny reports of £1m-plus bonus Stephen Hester, 27th Jan 2012

“We’re well on the road to recovery. Fingers crossed all the bugs have been got out but we feel a corner has been turned…things back to normal by early next week.” RBS Stephen Hester on the, still to be fixed IT problems which has seen millions of customers’ accounts frozen. 27th June 2012
.

“Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond has admitted for the first time that the bank made a conscious decision to falsify Libor rates in order to protect the bank at the height of the financial crisis.” Left-wing tabloid rag The Daily Telegraph cranks up the pressure on Diamond Bob over his knowledge of dodgy deals within Barclays. June 28th 2012

“Barclays boss Bob Diamond says he will not resign.” Shock news in a BBC headline, June 29th 2012.

“Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds have been accused of systematically rigging financial markets in a growing international scandal which wiped billions off the value of shares in Britain’s biggest banks.” The Daily Telegraph with more good news for RBS fans and customers. June 29th 2012

Stephen Hester admits to stealing from his own granny, murdering Lady Diana, selling dodgy Olympic Tickets and starting the Second World War. Diamond Bob admits to shooting, butchering and eating Shergar. Both men say they are “determined to ride out the storm” The Sharp Single, June 31st 2012.

Shred the Fred


There is a real danger, I am told, that if what the Institute of Directors is calling “anti business hysteria” continues in this country then it is more than likely that the City’s best and highest-regarded executives will leave the UK for other markets.  Former CBI Chief Digby Jones (you’ll remember him from the movie “Digby, the World’s Biggest Cvnt”) told the BBC that there was a “faint whiff of the lynch mob on the village green” about the decision to strip Fred Goodwin of his Knighthood. He too lamented and warned of the possible situation of the UK no longer being attractive to the best and brightest in the financial world.

What ? You mean we won’t be able to call on the services of fuckers like Goodwin, who almost single-handedly brought down the UK economy, got found out then fucked off to retirement with a pension bigger than the Greek national debt ? (coinciding nicely with the rest of the country’s pensions going down the Swanny.) Oh dear. Oh fuck me. No, no, you’re right. He will be a loss. Him and his ilk. Can’t we give him another knighthood ?
Sir Sir Fred has a lovely ring about it.

How’s your pension, by the way ? Alright, is it? Good. Listen, don’t feel too bad about Fred losing his Sirship. He still receives a taxpayer-funded pension of £342,500 a year for life from RBS. That’s nice of them innit? I have written to Her Maj The Queen on the occasion of the anniversary of her 60 years as our figurehead requesting she sticks her Knighthood up her arse, just as long as I can get a pension like that from the same taxpayers who unwittingly bailed out my shite company in the first place. Whether The Sharp Single will ever be state owned, I have no idea, but it certainly won’t be responsible for bringing the country to the verge of financial oozalumness. (yes, it’s a word!) And if it does, I shall certainly expect you lot to stump up cos I’m an incompetent/crooked*** bastard. (delete where applicable).

There is something quite comforting that Goodwin will forever be linked with Robert Mugabe, Anthony Blunt, Nicolae Ceausescu, and Benito Mussolini as someone who’s had his knighthood revoked. I am past caring whether this is fair or a just comparison. If I was a former RBS worker I would find it hilarious. Come to think of it, I’m not but it still is. I’d keep away from low-flying lamp posts if I were Fred.

Then there’s Stephen Hester, the next on the long, never-ending conveyor belt of this lot. The current chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, has taken home more than £11m in shares and cash since being parachuted in to run the bailed-out bank in October 2008. (All that money, all those brains but not a decent barber shop to be seen ?)

He was forced at gunpoint to return his bonus, just short of a million quid, such was the outcry from the media and politicians.  I am told, by people inside the city that this sum was “peanuts for what he did”, and that it was a “joke” that he had to give it back, when he handles huge sums of money for RBS, picking up pieces from the wreckage of the company left by (who els?) Sir Sir Fred. This is partly true.

Hester does handle huge figures. Like the 20,600 redundancies made by RBS, after it announced profits of £1.1bn profits last year. Huge figures indeed. In a country based on the old Latin motto, “Fuck You, Jack, I’m Alright” we shouldn’t be surprised at this sort of behaviour.

It was, after all, this attitude which saw Lord Snooty and his mate Gideon rise to power in the first place (and their mentor Tony Bliar was little better). But even Osborne and Cameron looked flushed in the face when they were asked about the morals of a public servant (albeit a very very well paid one) dispensing of 20,000 people due to financial meltdown caused by the stupifying errors that he and his cronies made, then taking home a million quid bung while those 20,000 people and millions like them struggle to find work in this world fucked by the banking industry which made them redundant in the first place. Even George Osborne,  EVEN GEORGE GIDEON OLIVER OSBORNE looked (I said looked, didn’t say was) too embarrassed to justify this ultimate act of arrogance.

Scare away this lot from the country ? Good. Fuck off the lot of you.

Read this BBC story this morning ?

Australia bus boss gives staff $16m sale share

Australian Ken Grenda may have sold his bus company, but his staff of almost 2,000 are smiling. Mr Grenda gave cash bonuses totalling A$15m ($16m, £10m) from proceeds of the sale to employees of his 66-year-old Melbourne-based company.

The bonuses, averaging A$8,500, were based on the length of service. Some workers received A$30,000 to A$100,000 each, Australian media reported. The company was sold to Ventura, another transport company, for A$400m. “You know we’ve got employees that stretch over 40 years, so it is a pretty nice thing to do,” Mr Grenda’s son, Scott, told ABC News.

Mr Grenda, who is also the managing director of the company, said his father was sad about selling the business and wanted to show his gratitude to the staff for their service.
A business is only as good as its people and our people are fantastic,” said the senior Mr Grenda, who has been dubbed the ”best” and ”most generous” boss in Australia.

Well that’s his RBS job application fucked for starters. What the hell is he thinking of ?

I have to go now. There’s an angry mob outside (as opposed to that happy and content mob you hear so much about). Hold my torch for me, will you ? I need to sharpen my stake.

Di Day, 1st of June


The following article is dedicated to the sad old drunk who accosted me on a train yesterday…

Lady Diana Spencer, Diana Princess of Wales, The People’s Princess and all those other terms that come up in search engines would have been 50 today, June 1st. The fact that she never got to blow out the 50 candles on her birthday battenberg was due in part, we’re told, to some pissed-up Egyptian cabbie doing a Nico Rosberg into slab of concrete somewhere under Paris. I always thought the powers-at-be, to in some way hide their embarrassment of their small contribution to her demise,  may have declared her birthday a national holiday. Di Day ? Di and Dodi Day ? Di and Dodi Died Day ? I dunno, something fitting and duly respectful like that.

Anyway, it was just a thought.

Diana will be up there be kicking herself that she missed the last 14 years of Paul Scholes’ marvelous football career, though she’ll be happy to know that she also missed a long line of knee-high, studs-up lunges with his lethal hobnails. His stats speak for themselves:

  Apps       goals           legal tackles

Man Utd                                    466         102                    1*

England                                        66            14                    0

(*  U14 training. Apologised after)

He has also received 90 yellow cards during his premiership career and  was cautioned 32 times during European campaigns, making Ratko Mladic look like Trevor Brooking.

The no-longer fragrant Diana would doubtless be surprised that it’s taken 16 years to capture Mladic. “The Butcher of Bosnia”, as he is known,  is finally on his way to an International Criminal Court near you and will doubtless feel the wrath of the law when he’s up in front of the beak on killing-everyone charges in The Hague on Friday.

He shouldn’t worry himself too much. Last time he stood in front of a bunch of Dutchmen they rolled over in front of him like a Sri Lankan batting order in Cardiff. I trust there will be some suitably red-faced Dutch UN officials, burying their shamed heads in their Amstel when the Srebrenica story is re-told in it’s full gory detail. Short of supplying him with barrels of Grolsch wheels of mild cheese and the daily use of their enormous sisters there seems little more the Orange peacekeepers could have done to facilitate him.

Yes Diana would raise an eyebrow to what’s changed and what hasn’t while she’s been in that great Harrods Food Court in the sky. Her Father-in-law is still around (although surely not for much longer??),  Charlton Athletic are still in the third division (ditto), Sepp Blatter “The Taxidermist of Zurich” is still a crook (allegedly and forever and ever, amen) and STILL in charge of FIFA. Yes, honestly he is. No, I don’t believe it either.

Col Gaddafi is still an international pariah, although since you’ve been away, Di, he’s been our best mate for a while. Don’t ask me. Something to do with your old mate Tony and oil or something. Now he’s resumed to the status of Chief International Awkward Fucker but we can’t find him to blow him up. Send for Kate Adie, that’s what I always say (and always will).

If I was in charge of the hunt, I’d pop down to the local ATM cos I reckon he’ll need to draw some cash out soon. Gaddafi is skint. Potless. Broke. We’re told he invested in both The Royal Bank of Scotland and BP Oil and lost a fortune on Libya’s behalf in doing so. What a prat. Not since I spent my ill-earned cash on Lastminute.com shares has such an ill-advised investment been recorded (I’m still waiting for my first divvie).

Oh, apart from that time I bid for London Olympic 2012 tickets and got sod all back. Nothing. Not even the fucking egg-and-spoon race. Not a sorry, not even a thanks for trying. Not EVEN a “fuck off, peasant these are going to our corporate mates”. Which they most certainly are.

Where’re my bleedin tickets ?? I only wanted a couple to watch to the 1 yard air rifle and the beach pole vault. I wasn’t bidding for the whole fucking games? I spent all month ensuring there was enough cash in my account and then when yesterday’s deadline arrived : NOTHING. Nothing immediately happened. Nothing was immediately and swiftly taken from my bank. I’ve been robbed by someone not taking money from me. Apparently I’m up for some in the second ballot. SECOND BALLOT ?? What is this? fucking AV all of a sudden ? If I wanted a second ballot I would have voted for Nick Clegg (“The Scheister of Westminster”), which I most certainly didn’t.

So, you’re better off out of it Diana, I reckon.  Who’d want to be 50 in this miserable sodding world anyway? I’m looking down the wrong end of a half century and am in constant danger of losing my happy-go-luck demeanour.

Mind you, I suspect if you’d been around you might have sneaked a ticket or two for the Olympic 100 yards dash. I reckon you could have afforded it if there wasn’t room in the Harrods box. The Fuggin Fayed would have lent you the dosh I’m sure.