HEAD, WALL, WALL, HEAD
A store, somewhere in southwest London.
Hello, I’d like to make a payment on my account, please.
Certainly, madam. Do you have your storecard?
No, but I have my statement.
HANDS STATEMENT OVER
Hmm. I’m afraid I need the card.
Er, why? All the details of the account are on the statement. And on the handy payment slip you’ve helpfully attached to it.
Not the card expiry date.
Why do you need that? I don’t want to buy anything, I want to pay you money. In cash.
WAVES CURRENCY IN THE AIR IN MANNER OF LABOUR MP’S LIMBS AFTER ENJOYING A FEW BARRELS OF RED WINE IN HOUSE OF COMMONS BAR.
It’s the system. I need to have the expiry date of the card in order to accept payment.
But if I went into a bank to make this payment, they wouldn’t want to see my card, would they? They only need the payment slip. The payment slip your store has sent me. Are you seriously telling me that if the Sultan of Brunei came in here to make a payment, you wouldn’t accept it because he didn’t have the expiry date of the card?
Right. Just as well he’s not likely to suffer the embarrassment then, isn’t it? Can I see the customer services manager, please?
There isn’t one, madam. But I can ask the floor manager to come over.
FLOOR MANAGER APPEARS, A CROSS BETWEEN DEPUTY DAWG AND DAME EDNA EVERAGE’S BRIDESMAID, MADGE. ONLY WITHOUT THE JOIE DE VIVRE.
I suggest you go home and call the main customer services number, madam. We can’t accept payment on this account.
But I got on the train to come here specially. I don’t live in this area. And if I can’t pay this today, they will charge me a late payment fee. And I don’t want to incur interest on the amount. AND I’m not going to call a premium rate number to sort this out.
A FEW MINUTES OF SILENCE ENSUES. MADAM PLAINLY ISN’T GOING TO GO AWAY.
Would you like me to call the main customer services number for you, madam?
Yes, I would.
DEPUTY MADGE SLINKS AWAY, SEEMINGLY NOT MOVING ANY PART OF HIS BODY. AFTER TEN MINUTES, MADAM IS CALLED OVER TO THE PHONE.
Would you mind speaking to the customer services representative, madam?
MADAM TAKES THE PHONE.
Can you answer a few security questions, please?
Why? I want to give you money.
It’s the system. Can you tell me which month you were born in?
MADAM TELLS HIM.
And what’s your phone number?
Well, I have a new one now, but the one you have is 09999 999999. (Just imagine the scene when they call madam up to tell madam somebody wants to make a payment into her account…’No! They’re not me! Don’t let them!’)
And what’s your password for this account?
I haven’t the faintest idea. Nobody’s asked me that for years.
I see. Can you tell me what the credit limit is on the card.
Certainly. I’ll read it out to you. It’s written very clearly on the statement I’m holding in my hand. Why do you need to know these things when I only want to hand over money. How much security does it take to pay you cash?
CONVERSATION CONTINUES IN THIS VEIN FOR ANOTHER 5 MINUTES. EVENTUALLY THE COMEDIAN ON THE OTHER END OF THE PHONE ASKS TO SPEAK TO THE COMEDIAN STANDING NEXT TO MADAM IN THE STORE.
Right. I see. OK. Thank you. If you’ll follow me, madam.
On this occasion I can accept payment. But in future please bring in the card with you.
Can you see that this is all nonsense? That it’s not logical to have to tell you my inside leg measurement and provide a letter from the vet confirming my tortoise’s shell rot has cleared up nicely in order to give you twenty-five pounds?
MADGE THE DAWG STARES BLANKLY INTO THE DISTANCE.
MADAM’S EYES MEET THOSE OF THE YOUNG HELPFUL ASSISTANT, WHO SWEETLY KEEPS APOLOGISING. MADAM SECRETES THE RECEIPT FOR HER CASH, THE CASH SHE FOUGHT SO HARD TO HAND OVER, ABOUT HER PERSON.
AND IN THE TRADITION OF ELVIS PRESLEY, MADAM EXITS THE BUILDING.
MADAM ARRIVES HOME TO FIND A FAT ENVELOPE AWAITING HER ON THE MAT. MADAM OPENS IT UP. IT CONTAINS THE BUNDLE OF DIVORCE PAPERS SHE LODGED WITH THE COURT EARLIER IN THE WEEK, TOGETHER WITH A COMPLIMENT SLIP WHICH STATES:
Please find returned your D8 application. ‘Part 2’ has to be completed exactly as it is on the Marriage Certificate.
MADAM LEAFS THROUGH AND SEES THAT THIS REFERS TO THE QUESTION ASKING WHERE THE PETITIONER AND THE RESPONDENT HAD MARRIED. SINCE THE PETITIONER AND THE RESPONDENT HAD MARRIED IN THE REGISTER OFFICE OF BRIGHTON AND HOVE IN THE CITY OF BRIGHTON AND HOVE, MADAM HAD WRITTEN – ON TRIPLICATE FORMS – ‘THE REGISTER OFFICE OF BRIGHTON AND HOVE IN THE CITY OF BRIGHTON AND HOVE’. THE CLERK, WHEN HE VERY KINDLY CHECKED THROUGH MADAM’S FORMS EARLIER IN THE WEEK, HAD POINTED OUT THE INSTRUCTION:
INSERT THE PLACE WHERE THE MARRIAGE WAS FORMED, EXACTLY AS IT APPEARS ON YOUR MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE.
AND HE GAVE MADAM A PEN IN ORDER FOR HER TO INSERT THE PLACE WHERE THE MARRIAGE WAS FORMED EXACTLY AS IT APPEARS ON THE MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE:
THE REGISTER OFFICE OF BRIGHTON AND HOVE, IN THE CITY OF BRIGHTON AND HOVE, IN THE DISTRICT OF BRIGHTON AND HOVE.
JUST IN CASE OF ANY CONFUSION WITH THE CITY OF BRIGHTON AND HOVE IN THE DISTRICT OF STAVANGER AND TRONDHEIM.
BUT HERE, UNACCOUNTABLY, ARE THE FORMS ONCE AGAIN, BACK IN MADAM’S POSSESSION. (IS THIS NATIONAL NOT ACCEPTING ANYTHING WEEK???) MEANING ANOTHER VISIT WILL HAVE TO BE MADE TO THE COURT, INVOLVING HANDING OVER MADAM’S HANDBAG AT RECEPTION SO THAT ALL THE ZIPS CAN BE OPENED AND THE CONTENTS MAULED BY THE GIANT THUGGISH SECURITY GUARD WITH FAT FINGERS, WALKING THROUGH THE METAL DETECTOR, BEING WANDED AND PATTED DOWN WHEN THE ALARM GOES OFF (AS IT ALWAYS DOES), JUST SO MADAM CAN FILL OUT A NEW SET OF TRIPLICATE FORMS (NOT INCLUDED IN THE ENVELOPE), EXACTLY AS INSTRUCTED BY THE INSTRUCTIONS IN TRIPLICATE ON THE TRIPLICATE FORMS.
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