You know the one about the Englishman, the Irishman and the Scotsman going into a pub, whereupon the barman says: “What’s this?  Some sort of a joke?”

Well, try this one for size…

…NotNiceEtoile goes into a bank.  (Don’t tell me – you’ve heard this one before…)  Seeing there’s only 143 people already queuing for the measly two tellers (look, if bank employees can’t eat their tuna paste sandwiches at one of the busiest times of the day, when they can they???), she joins the end of the line.  Twenty minutes having passed fairly swiftly (only felt like 19 and three quarters in the end), NotNiceEtoile skips up to the counter and says to the 13 year-old DimWit behind the security glass (you’ll understand why there’s the need for security glass by the end of this post):-

“Hello.  I’d like to set up a standing order please”.  And she pushes a piece of paper with all kinds of details on it through to what to all intents and purposes looks like a person on the other side of the triple-glazed, bulletproof, anti-customer protection wall.  DimWit Who To All Intents And Purposes Looks Like A Person stares at piece of paper with a triple-glazed expression on her face.

What’s this?  she inquires with a sneer, which is impressive when you consider she’s stifling a yawn at the same time.

“Those are the details of the standing order I’d like to set up”, NotNiceEtoile says helpfully, providing a narrative for an action she’d rather thought would be completely blindingly obvious and unnecessary to provide a narrative for.

DimWit takes a minute to process the collection of short noises that are wafting around the entire bank – you might know them as ‘words’ –  thanks to the induction loop thoughtfully built into the premises so that the hard of hearing in Western Australia have no trouble in keeping up to date with what’s going on in the banking world of SW London.  She somehow brings herself to look at the piece of paper.

What’s this name at the top? she asks.

“That’s the name of my son”, NotNiceEtoile answers.  “I’d like to set up a standing order for him”.

Dimwit again looks at the chit.  There’s no sort code on there.

“You’ll find that hidden next to where it says SORT CODE”.

Oh yes.  Well, the account number’s too long.  

NotNiceEtoile looks at the piece of paper DimWit has bravely passed back to her through the razor-wired NoCustomerLand.  There are indeed too many numbers on that line. (NotNiceEtoile starting to think that perhaps the bank doesn’t quite suck out all the air in the protective employee cubicle behind the glass).  And she realises with some pain that she’ll have to abort this mission to await further instructions.  Like Elvis, were he sporting his blue suede shoes in a bank on the outskirts of London in 2012, she leaves the building.

NotNiceEtoile texts Son. Son texts back : “Oh sorry.  That was my card number.  Here’s my account number’.  (For some reason, hard to recall at this point that Son spent last year studying Maths and Astrophysics at a top UK university).  NotNiceEtoile says she’ll return to the bank, reassures Son not to worry, she’s British, queuing up is in her DNA, she really has nothing better to do with her day like becoming globally famous and earning sackfuls of money to pay into her account for DimWit personally to count out in pennies.

NotNiceEtoile returns to the bank.  Sees the queue is now 496 people long.  Lets out a plaintive sigh and makes it 497.

On this occasion, the time is filled with her endeavouring to elbow out of her space, without using her elbows, old woman immediately behind her, who is breathing heavily down her neck and eyeballing the jokey exchange of texts NotNiceEtoile is enjoying with her son about the inadequacies of popular contraceptive devices 21 years ago.  NotNiceEtoile (quite rightly) believes the communications to be private and, more importantly, copyright.  ‘Get your own son’, she thinks loudly.

Finally, finally, NotNiceEtoile once again reaches the counter.  Some quirk of fate (think it’s known as The Monty Python Foot) has ensured she is once again face to face with the DimWit with whom she engaged last time.

“Here’s the new information”, NotNiceEtoile chirps, shoving the amended piece of paper carefully through the booby-trapped, chop-your-fingers-off-in-a-split-second scary tunnel.

DimWit knows now she will have to perform some kind of task.  Something in her head, possibly as big as a peanut (I can be generous if I like, it’s my blog) instructs the talons on the ends of her hands – where the fingernails are square cut and six inches longer than her fingers – to start inputting information into her computer.  She asks when the first payment should be sent.  “Today, please, the 1st June”.

Oh, it won’t go today.  The first one will have to be 1st July.  

“Why?  We live in a digital age.  You’re programming the computer now.”

It doesn’t work like that.  If you want the regular payment on 1st of the month, the first one will go in July.

“OK, can we send a one-off payment today?”

We can, but it won’t get there for 10 working days.


It’s because it’s a bill payment.

“It’s not a bill payment, I’m sending money to my son.”

It’s regarded as a bill payment.  I’ll have to set it up separately.  

And so she makes her nails (well, I say ‘her’ nails, but I think that’s allowable because it was probably her who paid for them) dance clickety-clack onto the keyboard.  She climbs down from her chair and walks over to the printer, returning with two ENORMOUS pieces of paper, largely blank but for a few lonely numbers huddling together for warmth near the top.  Check the numbers and sign please, she slurs.

NotNiceEtoile looks at the two sheets.  Before she even gets to the account details, she sees that her son’s surname is spelled incorrectly.

“My son’s surname name is spelled incorrectly”, she says.

What’s your son’s surname?  DimWit asks.  If she was any more laconic she would have been dead for 28 years.

“Just as it’s written on the sheet of paper I gave you.  It’s ‘Shepherd’.”

It says that.

“No, it says ‘Shepard’.  My son’s name is ‘Shepherd’, as in sheep”.   NotNiceEtoile instantly regrets this remark, knowing she’s now going to have to explain what sheep are.

Oh, OK.

Clickety-clack, clickety-clack.  Off she sets again for the printer, acres of paper once again popping up at NotNiceEtoile across the enemy lines.

NotNiceEtoile coughs.  Points out as diplomatically as only she can (use your imagination, plonker) that DimWit has now typed ‘Shepheard’.

Do you want me to change it?

“Erm, yes.  It’s not my son’s name.  I want you to change it”.

At this point, possibly due to an emergency SOS emanating from the exhausted and soon to be deceased printer, a manager-type woman appears from the back office to sit next to DimWit.   Manager-type speaks softly to DimWit out of the corner of her mouth: “What’s the matter?” DimWit replies out of the corner of her mouth: I spelled the name wrong.  Almost imperceptible collective raising of bank-employed eyebrows to the ceiling.

DimWit tries once more, and with there being no other possibilities of erroneous spelling to be had, somehow gets it right this time.

Nearly done!  DimWit grins.  And then we can send £20 to your son!

“What £20???”  NotNiceEtoile exclaims.  “The amount should be several times that!”

Oh yes, that’s what I meant.

NotNiceEtoile grits her teeth and mentally makes note to change name to ReallyNotNiceAtAllEtoile.

The Queen gets four days of celebration and a fly past merely for being on the throne for a paltry 60 years.  I very much look forward to the recognition I deserve for spending almost the same amount of time on the premises of this establishment, dealing with the yokels.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the one-off ‘bill payment’ amount arrived in my son’s account the very next day.  Plainly, yet another mistake.


About notniceetoile

I'm a freelance comedy writer, now living in Brighton after a few years in London, having relocated back to the UK in 2011 after a couple of years of adventures on the Cote D'Azur. Check out my blog about life in Nice:- http://drivingoverexpats.blogspot.com/ and my political satire blog:- http://amuzenewz.com/2013/01/28/passport-to-paradise/ Available for weddings (3 to date) and barmitzvahs (0 - I'm a girl, duh).

Posted on June 6, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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