Monday, 30 November 2009

An Old Woman in Barclay's Bank in Uppermill

I was paying some money in and struggling with the paying-in slip...remember when you used to fill those out for fun as a child? Banking was very exciting to me as a kid...

Anyway,  I was struggling and an elderly lady came in clutching a lot of paperwork and she went up to the counter and handed the bulk of paperwork over to the cashier and said that she had been told to come into the branch by a nice man on the phone, as she needed to change the details of her account.

The lady behind the counter nodded and asked why she needed to change the details and the elderly lady said:

"My husband died last week so I need to close our joint account and get one in just my name. This is his death certificate."

I was the only other customer in the bank and her words hit me like a ton of bricks, the two staff members in the bank also fell silent, the elderly lady gave a weak smile and the cashier began the process of erasing her husband's name and details from the system with a seriousness befitting the situation.

I paid my money in and left, thinking how sad that was, what a horrible thing to have to do and I got angry that no family members were around to help her with the tidying up of the loose ends left by death.

Perhaps she didn't want a fuss.

And then to top it off, I read this piece today in the Guardian about how homosexuality in Uganda will soon be punished by death or life in prison.

Sometimes, we seem to be taking far too many steps backwards...


  1. I can beat that banking story. Back during my glory days in Loughton, I needed to visit my branch of Abbey on Debden Broadway. For some reason, a new chequebook hadn't been sent out and I was enquiring why not. Apparently, despite me delivering the paperwork, my account was still registered to an old address (or something), which appeared to be untrue as I still got my statements delivered to my new-ish address. Anyway, my enquiry resulted with them telling me that they couldn't help and I'd have to go home and phone India in order to sort my problem out, which seemed a waste of time, money and energy on my part seeing as I was actually standing in the bank talking to a real-life person with all my identity documents on me. But that's besides the point...

    While I was "being dealt with" a lady came in with a middle-aged chap in a wheelchair, clearly disabled, and clearly the both of them were having a hard time of it. The women explained that she was the man's sister and she need to have authority to deal with her brother's account as the bank would only deal with him over the telephone and no-one could understand him, due to his speech difficulties. No one would deal with her because security protocols said that they need to talk to the account holder and she wasn't it. And so they were stuck in a perfect Catch 22 situation.

    The bank staff then proceeded to cross-examine the woman, then the brother and then there was a complete breakdown of communication, as the man's impediment was such that he could only communication in grunts. It was a very upsetting experience made worse by me looking up at the staff behind the counter and watching them giggling, yes giggling, at the man's distress.

    There's no end to the story as I was dealt with before their enquiry finished and left the bank under a cloud.

  2. Brutal, I hope you still don't bank with the Abbey after that?

  3. Not having kids, I wonder sometimes what kind of help I might find when I'm old. We have some special relationships with a couple of 'god children' types. Maybe they'll want to help us out. Maybe they won't. Ageing is a scary proposition.

  4. Indeed it is Ellie, make sure you have some younger types to watch your back or make sure you live somewhere you have the choice when to die.

    Grim thoughts...


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