Its amazing how much better I felt when the bloke at NatWest gave me nine grand in cash (which is now invested in an account at the bank that likes to say "do you really think that is a good idea dear") I wouldn't admit it to anyone, but I had managed to convince myself that I would never get my money back. As it was, the tale of how I did is mildly amusing, and probably deserves to be told.
I went into the bank with Corinna. I was probably looking less than salubrious, because now only - as you might have gathered from my last few posts - was I feeling very frail, and as mad as a bagfull of cheese - but my hair was blown all over the place, I was dressed head to foot in black, and sporting a leather jacket, big hat, and a T Shirt with the CRASS logo and the motto "Anarchy, Peace and Freedom". The usual then.
I stomped difidently (can you stomp diffidently? I'm not too sure, but I am convinced that I did), up to the enquiries counter, and was met by a bloke called Mr Slocombe.
Now, banks have changed a lot over the years. When my father first took me to NatWest to open an account back in the day, it was a serious social event. The Bank Manager had sidewhiskers, and wore a near pin-striped suit. He offered both me and my father cigars, and the whole occasion had a strange dignity about it, as if opening my first cheque-book account was one of those important rites of passage in the making of a young gentleman.
When we went in to the bank a few weeks ago to open our joint account (the thing which I am sure was the reason behind the current crisis), the staff, who seemed to be a mixture of kids hardly old enough to shave, and late middle-aged women with grey hair, who looked acutely embarrasssed), were all dressed in bright yellow T.Shirts emblazoned with some facile slogan or other, and an air of quiet dignity was nowhere to be seen. Even when the official who was to open our account took us into a side room to do the dirty deed, he called us (uninvited) by our first names, and had about as much quiet dignity as a farting competition.
However, Mr Slocombe was lovely. He was the only person since this whole horrid affair started who treated us, not only with respect, but in the manner in which one would expect a bank official to behave. He was kind, dignified, and sensitive, and I cannot thank hum enough.
I told him that I had been ordered by the powers that be to close my account. His eyelids did not even flicker at this,, and he said that he was sorry to hear it. I gave him my details and asked for him to give me the balance of my account in cash. He said that of course he would, and it was only as my balance flashed up on the screen before him, that any emotion could be seen on his face. "Why on earth do you have to close this account?" he asked.
I grinned and told him the whole sorry tale. He confirmed to me that most people who are forced into the position of closing their accounts have no money, a substantial overdraft, and a history of bouncing cheques. Not a balance of nine grand (because the irony is, that for the first time in my life it transpired that I had MORE money in my account than I thought).
Still professionally suave to the core (although one could see his poor little brain working overtime as he wondered what the $%^&^ was going on), he arranged the withdrawal, shook our hands and we walked out into the street with £9,123.70 in my pocket. For the first time in my life I have no Bank Account.