12 December 2010

Oh my goodness! Is that the time? Somehow, this week seems to have scampered by without my noticing.

You will be very pleased to hear that the snow and frigid conditions have abated, at least for the time being. While we are undoubtedly pleased, I’m not convinced that Molly is quite so content – she comes home from her walks caked in mud which, of course, necessitates some sort of hose down and banishment from any of the downstairs rooms with carpets, in other words, just about everywhere. Since she normally spends most of her time with us in the lounge, especially when we have a fire in the wood-burner, you can imagine that this is not very popular.

Yesterday Pen took her out in the afternoon and returned with a chocolate-coloured golden retriever. Unfortunately, although the snow had melted and the temperature was a degree or two above freezing, the garden hose in the garage, which is the dog-washing implement of choice, was still frozen. So, Molly got washed down with water from a watering can – warm, tap water admittedly but not much fun nevertheless. Later in the evening while we were watching television, we both heard running water. Upon investigation, it turns out that Pen had not turned off the faucet to the garden hose and it had finally thawed sufficiently – the hose was happily leaping about spraying everything in the garage.

BarclaysSome of you will know of my recent discussion with the complaints department at Barclays Bank. I was stunned at the size of the chunk the bank took for allowing me to transfer some of my money to the Huletts Landing Trust. Not only did I think that £25 for, essentially, clicking a mouse button to effect an electronic transfer was a bit steep, but the American bank also charged me £4 for the privilege of allowing me to put some US dollars into their establishment which I felt was positively criminal. When I queried the amount the person with whom I discussed the issue assured me that £25 plus £4 was indeed the correct amount. It seems that they assumed that I was complaining that the fee was somehow incorrect – the notion that it seemed somewhat excessive hadn’t even occurred to them.

I suggested that, in the current financial climate, bankers and the financial institutions are not held in the highest regard and one of the reasons for this was what would appear to most sane people as the excessive charges they levy for fairly basic services. Of course, I was speaking with a mere phone operator in a call centre but when I asked whether she earned £25 for what was about five minutes work she assured me somewhat emphatically that she did not. I also pointed out that Barclays paid £1.5 billion in bonuses last year and made profits of £11.6 billion and suggested that they might regain some of their tarnished reputation if they announced that they were reducing their charges. Naturally, I won’t be holding my breath. And, have you noticed the similarity between the words “banker” and “wanker”? Do you think this is a mere coincidence? Are bankers the new lawyers?

We watched the film City Island the other evening which, if you’ve not seen, is certainly worth a shout. It’s been around a while so I guess you’ll find it on DVD or Netflicks or whatever. It’s about a dysfunctional family each of whom is hiding some relatively innocent secret from each other. Andy Garcia plays the patriarch who works as a corrections officer in a local prison. His secret is that he is taking acting classes but he tells his wife he is playing poker. Not surprisingly, she comes to the conclusion that he is having an affair. The daughter has been suspended from college and is working as a stripper to earn the money to go back again and she perpetuates her deception by taking a week off work and coming home for “Spring Break.” And there’s more which I won’t go into but the final scene is like the conclusion of  a Shakespearean comedy where everyone finally discovers what the audience has known all along. Very cute.

Closed PubFinally, one group of people who are delighted that the snow and freezing conditions have temporarily relaxed are a couple from Darlington and the five staff of The Lion Inn at Blakey Ridge, near Kirkbymoorside, North Yorkshire. They were trapped inside for eight days as 20 feet of snow drifted against the pub and closed all the roads. I suppose I can think of worse places to be stuck but eight days with just your husband/wife and five strangers?

Love to you all,

Greg