Saturday, 17 November 2012


It’s been a funny sort of week. China says The rubbish we exported for recycling is of such poor quality they have sent it back and I have been warned that the next time I get stuck in the bath I am going to spend the rest of my life there.
The Fire Brigade will still rescue cats from trees but uncorking the fat is out. Predictably the World Rulers on “To-day” thought it was funny. I didn’t. But I know where the rubbish has gone
 I was even less amused to hear that my bank which welcomes the ill gotten loot of drug dealers and sundry other crooks is going to war on its respectable customers.I joined HSBC when it was a mere stripling trading as the Midland and I was an 18 year old stripling not doing a lot of trading at all. Over the sixty five years that followed the Bank has made more out of me than it has given.I counted up the gold coins I have hurled at its head in overdraft penalties,mortgages and the crippling interest on bank loan.Only the licensing trade has made more from my wayward ways.
Now I am past the years of debauch and thrown on the blousy shores of temperance, in the words of the wicked Restoration Earl of Rochester the best I can manage is to spend my annual pension from the Royal Literary Fund in ten months.For the past decade the bank has subsidised me for the eight weeks until the pension goose lays its golden egg.This year as always I had a letter from it confirming it was happy to go on playing Father Xmas for another year.My joy was short lived when another letter arrived complaining I was £1,000 overdrawn and I was required to reduce it by £500 over the course of the next month. I rang the bank to say that my pension was due in a month and the bank said that was Ok, under the circumstances they would revise their new strategy and accept £100. I said if I had £100 I wouldn't need an overdraft and I too had a new strategy. I was closing my account. It was not a decision I took lightly. I have enjoyed the battle of wits in which we have been engaged over half a century. A battle which an earlier manager had described as getting me to agree to returning to the more conventional form of banking where I banked with them, rather than them with me.

 Battle was joined early in our arrangement when my riposte to them bouncing a £2 cheque was to apply for a personal loan. Halfway through the interview that followed the manager excused himself because he had to supervise a visit to the vaults.He paled when I offered to go with him. “You are doing enough damage to the concept of banking where you are."

Some time later the years did well by me. I was living in a manor house attended by a house keeper who brought the mail up one morning. The first letter was an invitation to the annual Ball of the Duke of Lancaster's Yeomanry, tickets £20. the second letter was a reminder my Hunt Subscription to the Cheshire Hounds was overdue, there was a third bill for mooring fees for my cabin cruiser,the aptly named “Fancy Free”. The fourth letter was a rather sad little plea from the bank”.....if you would even try to live within your means” Greatly touched I bundled up the bills and sent them to the bank with a covering note “I send you these in order that you can set the Hamlet's Ghost of my overdraft against the Elsinore of events” Almost by return the bank wrote “thank you for your full and frank disclosure.May we remind you that Hamlet was one of Shakespeare's great tragedies as you are one of the Midland Bank's “.
 In those days there were giants in the land where now only pygmies rove. My happiest time came when my bank manager commanded a territorial battalion of the Liverpool Scottish. When he discovered I had served in a Highland regiment I could do no wrong. When he had to lecture me about my wild spending he used to take me out to lunch to deliver it.
 Some years later when my first best seller was published I sent him a copy to thank himfor his support He immediately wrote to congratulate me. He added “Alas a junior clerk thought the package was a bomb and summoned the Bomb Disposal Squad. So not for the first time you have disrupted the working of the bank for the better part of the morning."

 Writing this and remembering those happy times left me feeling quite sad but I have just had a reassuring phone call. A midland heart still beats in the plate glass and polished steel body of HSBC. A delightful girl from the bank named Terri rang to say in view of the long years I have dealt with the bank I was to ignore the last letter.The dear old Midland and I will ride together into the sunset.


John Humphrys has been much praised for his attack on the luckless DG. I do not share the plaudits. The sad Entwhistle was already mortally wounded and had he been thinking straight he would have refused the invitation to his own execution He probably thought it would be an opportunity to bow out gracefully.Odd that he should think so when he had served the Bbc for so many years. Kicking men when they are down is an old BBC blood sport. I have noticed before that Humphreys and the other bully Paxman pick their victims carefully. The next morning the Hump behaved very differently when he interviewed the formidable Liz Forgan.

 The ex DG was said not to be up to the job. In thirty years I met very few BBC managers who were.I think the daggers were out for him the moment he was appointed. He wasn't told things he should have been told by the men whose job was to read papers and keep an eye on the schedules. No point in keeping dogs and barking yourself. Why so much fuss ? Saville, in death as in life,is above the law.A few ageing entertainers may go to prison, many entertainers who were chased by under age nymphets will go free. The real problem that care homes have become little more than brothels for the young and torture chambers for the aged will not be addressed.The disgraceful business of the maligned Tory Peer is easily resolved by sacking the incompetents who permitted it to be aired, the editor who approved the copy and the reporter who was apparently unaware of basic news gathering techniques should all be sacked.Perhaps then we can concentrate on real injustice.


 A sniper has been sent to prison for possession of a fire arm. No suggestion that he intended to use it, even remembered its existence.It was discovered by illegal means. His kit which had been packed by other soldiers in his absence arranging the funeral of two fellow warriors was stored in the house of a friend. The friend's wife alleged assault by her husband. The police used to dismiss such matters as “Domestics”. Now for reasons unknown to criminology the police search the house and the kit of the husband.With no justification at all, they also searched the belongings of a house guest. ,SAS veteran Sgt Danny Nightingale. Acting illegally they found a hand gun ,presented to him for outstanding service by the Iraqui army. He intended to present it to his sergeant's mess in Hereford. sadly he collapsed running 200 mile marathon for charity and as a result is suffering from loss of memory.
 Sgt. Nightingale , an SAS sniper, has spent the last seventeen years putting himself in harm's way. The veteran of repeated missions, he was in the front line in Afghanistan. Nevertheless he was brought home, court martialled, disgraced and sent to prison. His wages are stopped, his wife and children face eviction from their army home.. We certainly know how to reward our warriors.One can only hope Help the Heroes will make sure the family are fed and housed until he is freed No wonder recruiting figures are falling.

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