Saturday 14 May 2016

A generation of useless bankers

When we first moved to France folks used to talk about ‘flaming June’. No, not a tradition of setting fire to the village bag-lady but the month, which is supposedly baking hot. Maybe I am feeling old but back then I can recall most of the spring having ‘tops off’ days here in the south west. Well this year we have had ‘freezing Feb, miserable March, atrocious April and murky May’. Apparently this has something to do with the Gulf Stream, a phenomenon which is quintessentially owned and controlled by Britain. So, basically, the blame for this dreary weather can be squarely laid at David Cameron’s door - yet another reason to tick au-revoir in the ballot booth this month!
Seriously though, the seed potatoes have only just gone in the ground – at least two months later than last year - and I have spent the last week building a fireplace on the back terrace to keep out the chill. Thankfully, during the prolonged wet period I have had an indoor project on the go which is now more or less finished: that of building a master bedroom, complete with en-suite. This entity was at the request of Mrs F who pointed out that over the last eight years I have renovated the entire house so that we can sleep a dozen or more guests in luxury but meanwhile the pair of us slum it in a make-shift bunker with the ceiling falling down and a furlong trek to the nearest loo.  She does have a point – maybe it should be called a Mistress bedroom? Hmm, that conjours up an interesting image, doesn’t it? Not only have I spoilled her with a new boudoir, but she now also has a utility and ironing room. No, not quite what you are thinking  as this isn’t a place where she can peacefully iron away the hours but a space where she can store all the ‘ironing’ in a pile out of sight to avoid the reminder that it needs doing on a twice annual basis. Oops, that might have cut my rations!
Moving swiftly on, at least this month I have been exempt from the anticipated continual travels. I was supposed to be in Glasgow for a couple of weeks but we hit a few project delays. And it is here that I feel the need to gripe, nay rant, about the irksome way in which the legal and banking system operates. Yes I know there may be bankers and lawyers reading this claiming that their industry is super-efficient but I have evidence to the contrary. To start with, you can no longer pop into a branch and open an account by filling in a quick form. Now I have been referred to the ‘account opening team’ who handle that process. Since the country got up in arms about all banking staff being based in India this new team consists of a dozen ill-educated teenagers in Sheffield with the collective IQ of my dog, who’s command of the English language is far worse than the whole of Mumbai! Four times Natalie has phoned me up, ‘clearing’ me with a dozen baffling security questions before getting to the point which is to ask me the same things she did last week because she had forgotten what I said. Six weeks on and I still have no account, nor even a piece of paper to suggest it may be imminent. Then we have the archaic paper-laden institution that represents our law; a set of egotistical brain-boxes in expensive suits who spend all day dictating letters to each other at my expense and then ignoring them. Hence simple transactions take months instead of days. In what other business could the whole process grind to a complete halt because Mr Jones is on holiday or paralegal Pam is taking a day off because her precious child has a nose bleed? It is utterly preposterous in this day and age that two or three quick emails can’t conclude a property purchase in an afternoon, let alone 2 months (or, in the case of one nameless local firm, a whole year!) If I was to be cynical I might suggest that dragging out the timeline would be so they could charge more – surely not?
On the subject of ancient things, some may recall that last we year we all trotted off to see the rock band Deep Purple, or what’s left of them. Well, despite my ears still wringing we are at it again, this time to see another depleted relic of my generation, The Who. I am not sure who’s idea it was, over a few shandies, but 12 of us have tickets at the best part of a hundred quid a pop to be shouted at for two hours by Roger Daltrey while octogenarian Pete Townsend customarily smashes up his guitar. The fact that these two of the initial four are still alive is itself a testament to modern science and one assumes their ageing fan-base have between them contributed massively to the sales of hearing aids. I have to admit I am quite excited, although I suspect these days there might be less talking about my generation and more about my operation!