Was I going to get Friday (9th) all to myself? Well sort of. I managed a little bit of a lie-in for a change though even then I was up and dressed well before eight-thirty. I had no work so I decided I would walk into town and deposit some more cash at the bank before it started to burn a hole in my purse! I had just finished breakfast when someone called to ask if I could check why their shower wasn’t working. I was free so I agreed to drive there and sort out the problem. The drive took me to another town which doesn’t have a branch outlet of my bank so I would have to wait until I could drive back home before making my deposit. The fault with the shower lay in the ceiling pull-switch which had jammed open, an unrepairable internal fault meant it would need replacing. I carry several types of switches in my van stock so I was able to effect an immediate replacement and was soon driving back to my own town. I parked the van in the same road I always park in when I have to visit the town centre but only wish to walk part-way there. The bank uses machines for making deposits so I took out the bank notes and placed them into the receptacle for the machine to count and verify them but half were rejected as being unrecognisable! They were all twenty pound notes £500 worth. I walked over to the girl at the help desk and she tried them in another machine with success. I could have done the same thing myself but at the time no other machine was available and I had thought that maybe there was an actual problem with some of the notes and perhaps they were forgeries. It wasn’t my fault was it? It would be quite possible after all for my customers pay in cash (I won’t accept cheques) and who knows where they got them from? There are forgeries at large. Anyway all was put right and the deposit was made. Now I have known this ‘girl’ for quite a few years but actually she is a middle-aged woman. We took a little time to catch up with each other’s news. She told me she was dreading the introduction of tablets for the staff to use when assisting customers. We ended up chatting about technology and the way it is beginning to take over our lives. She and I are both of the same opinion it seems for we both hate it, technology that is. I mentioned ‘the sign of the end times’ when nobody would be able to purchase anything or conduct any business unless they had on them the mark of the beast (which is metaphorically 666). In other words if we haven’t fallen in line with the ‘system’ we will be outcasts. On the other hand God says that whoever has the mark of the beast upon them will be cast out of His presence too. People may not see the future but future has its beginnings in the present. She actually informed me that it is planned that access to banking facilities will one day all be carried out on a smart phone to which I replied, ‘What if you haven’t got or don’t want a smart phone’? Get my drift? We also chatted about Christmas and the hype that surrounds it nowadays. It is surprising what you can chat about in five minutes isn’t it? I had to let her get back to her work but not until she had provided me with the bank’s contact number for their special services. I had told her that I wasn’t impressed with the bank having closed their branch in my village for it meant an inconveniently long trek into town to make deposits. On my way back through town to collect my vehicle I walked through the high street church grounds as they are open to the public and was approached by a lady running the church stall outside the church building. She wanted to know if I had ever used their cáfe to which I replied I had. She wanted to press upon me a couple of tickets for free drinks but I refused them. She then mentioned something about Christmas but I told her that although I was a Christian too I didn’t celebrate it. She was taken a little aback at that while I continued to say that nothing that was on her display, Christmas tree, decorations, wreaths etc. had anything to do with Christ, it was all heathen symbolism. She didn’t have a reply as I bade her farewell. Maybe she (a sister in Christ) will have something to think about in the weeks ahead. When I returned home I phoned the number I was given in the bank and I was able to register to have the branch of the Post Office in my village receive deposits on behalf of my bank. They will send me a book of deposit slips which I will receive in due course. It will mean I will no longer have to walk all the way into town just to put money in the bank. After lunch I received two calls for my electrical services, one I took on board but the other I rejected as it would involve too much work. The one I took on was for another of my regular customers and I would do that work on Saturday morning. I wanted to accommodate them by working on a Saturday because they had a very busy schedule ahead of them. It would be nice to see them again anyway. After their call I drove off to the electrical supplier to purchase a few items and that about summed up the day.
I don’t usually need an excuse to go for a walk, I like walking but on Tuesday I had no choice, I had to visit the bank in town. The bank is a mere one and a quarter miles or so from home and it was a pleasant and sunny day, just right for a walk. When I take my walks they are usually much further but this time I had a handbag with me, something I almost never take with me when out walking so it was a case of carrying out my business and then returning straight home. I could go for a longer walk after lunch. On Monday I received a cheque in the post for the grand sum of ten pounds! An organisation I subscribe to run a monthly draw and my number came up as a winner. The prizes range much higher than that, into the thousands but alas I missed out this time. Still ten pounds can buy a decent meal in many restaurants. My winnings could have been credited to my bank directly but that would mean my bank details if stored electronically might be vulnerable so they send out cheques instead. I had to visit the bank in any case as I had a few hundred pounds in bank notes which needed depositing too. I generally receive payments from my customers in cash and I wait a few weeks until I have a substantial amount to deposit. My bank now encourages the use of their machines to carry out deposits and of course withdrawals too. Unless other business which cannot be transacted using the machines needs to be conducted there is little reason to speak to staff. First I had to deposit the cheque but the machine wouldn’t accept it even after a couple of attempts so I made the cash deposits instead. I had to call for assistance to get the cheque processed. This time I was successful but I have no idea why. Maybe the machine was afraid of the staff! Banking this way is so impersonal I feel and one day in the future I know there will be no such thing as paying a visit to the bank, all transactions will be done at a machine which doesn’t necessarily need to be in a bank! If prophecy is true there will be no such thing as cheques or folding money in the future. Perish the thought I say but that’s the way we seem to be heading. It might seem like progress to some people but I am not one of them. The walk was nice though!
There’s a song in there somewhere……but it isn’t about a song. E and I have not been speaking now for seven weeks. It is all about her stubborn heart but I am not saying more than that just now. It means all of my time is now spent alone, not that this is anything new for over the last few years I have found myself in this position quite often. At the moment I just think she doesn’t care. I on the other hand do care but this time I am not rushing in to smooth things over as I normally have done in the past, this time I refuse to give in to her indifference. I am not at fault as usual but it seems that makes no difference. Everything is well for me as long as I have work to do but I seldom work every day. That means I get bored unless I make an effort to stay occupied. I take walks when the weather allows and go shopping sometimes. I took a walk on Wednesday in order to make a deposit in my bank and took a roundabout route to kill time. I had been dressed for work during the morning in case I received a request but none came in so in the afternoon I got changed and headed off out. After visiting the bank I continued my walk but got stopped within a hundred metres at the railway level-crossing. I could have crossed the road and taken the underpass at the station but it was such a sunny day and I was in no hurry to get anywhere. I got chatting to an elderly lady whilst we waited for the trains to come and go then we crossed over and chatted some more before we went our separate ways. I then met the only other female electrician I know hereabouts who was just about to enter a shop where I presume she was either working or giving an estimate. We didn’t talk except to say hello then I carried on with my walk. I was wondering rather aimlessly for a while before deciding to go to the pub and have a very late lunch. I hadn’t eaten for eight hours since breakfast. This time the pub was rather empty. I sat alone and had my meal but was greeted by a couple of guys I know, one of whom stopped to chat for a few minutes. I think he fancies me to be perfectly truthful for he never leaves me alone whenever I visit the pub. I was allowed to continue with my meal. Another guy came in and sat at the next table to have a meal and in the meantime was drinking a pint of beer. He went to the toilet and returned a minute later looking as if he was about to drop off to sleep when he seated himself at his table. I asked if he was alright and he asked why I was asking. I said that he looked a little tired and I thought he was about to fall asleep. I just wanted to make sure he was OK. He thanked me and told me he was fine then he asked me if I was alone. I told him that whilst in the pub I was. That gave him the impression that I was in a relationship and he said no more. I had an idea he was high on something but not alcohol for his pupils were a little dilated. Maybe he was simply tired. I didn’t stay long after that and returned home. E had been out all afternoon with her mom and she returned an hour later.
I had a small job to do on Tuesday morning but was back home within the hour. The mail had just been pushed through the letterbox and unusually two of the items were addressed to me. I don’t get that much mail, well compared to what E receives. One of the letters was from an insurance company asking if I wanted a better deal on my car insurance. I don’t have car insurance as I have commercial vehicle insurance for my van and that has already been sorted. The other letter was from my bank sending me some good news. Yesterday’s post reminded me that it doesn’t always go well in life, my life at least but it’s not all bad. Last year sometime, I cannot remember exactly and in fact I had forgotten all about it, I filled out a form sent from one of my banks, specifically the Halifax enrolling to a monthly draw. Winners in the draw receive cash prizes ranging from £100 to £3000 but as the last draw was what they called a ‘super draw’ it meant the possibility of winning £100,000 or £300,000 too. I received a letter from the bank on Tuesday indicating that I had won a prize. I had to provide proof of who I am and provide a recent utility bill one that fell in the same time period as the draw that is October last year through January this year. The latter was supposedly to ensure that I was resident in the country at that time. Proof of who I am was easy, all I had to produce was my driving licence or passport but the utility bill proved a problem for I hadn’t received any during that period. In fact I only receive notifications of my annual payments due either in February or early March. I receive no other notifications on paper as all my transactions are now done over the Internet. I was allowed to produce a notification letter sent last month by the same bank telling me about the forthcoming changes to certain accounts. Not knowing what prize I had won I set off for town on foot. It was a very windy day on Tuesday and by the time I had reach the bank I was somewhat windswept. A member of staff took my paperwork and details to the manager. He spent a little time contacting the office running the monthly draw and sorting out my details. When all was done he congratulated me on my ‘win’ and told me my account would receive the deposit within a day or so. How much? Well only £100 this time but at least it was something. Considering the poor rates of interest I get on my savings there it could be considered as some form of compensation. I walked back homeward in the stiff breeze but took a detour to my local pub and had a late lunch.
Nothing planned but I was sitting with my laptop after my late breakfast and my mobile phone rang. I had an inkling that would happen but though I had resigned myself to doing no more electrical this week I was in a way pleased. I’d rather have something to do than not. I could have set myself the task of working in the garden as I had mentioned previously but the weather was rather windy. I had to journey some 10 miles to replace a faulty three-gang light switch but it was worth the effort for £40, my minimum charge. I was back home a little more than an hour later. E was going shopping with her mum after lunch and I decided to do some baking whilst she was away. I mixed two separate recipes, one was for a rich fruit cake (though mine wasn’t topped like the one below) and the other a coconut cake.
I did the coconut cake first as it would take at least an hour and three-quarters to bake. The fruit cake takes an hour and a half. Normally I would bake just the one but E doesn’t like coconut in any shape or form. I have to do something with my time don’t I? Had the weather been better I might have gone for a walk but I will probably get another opportunity for that sometime in the week. I got that opportunity on Tuesday. E and I often dine out on a Tuesday but this week things went differently. I wanted to visit the bank to deposit money in my current account and at the same time arrange to see the manager about adding E to my account. We once shared a joint account many years ago but this time I want to arrange for E to be included on all my bank accounts. She will be a ‘silent’ account holder on my accounts which means she will not be making many deposits or withdrawals. The purpose of doing this is to ensure she will have no problems regarding our household financial matters and she will have access to savings should I die before she does. By my doing this she will also avoid any inheritance taxes or any other problems to do with finance as any monies will automatically be hers by default. She need not reciprocate by giving me the same privileges with her accounts for I would remain self-sufficient should she die first. Neither of us plan to depart just yet but who can say what the future holds? Whilst she was having her shower I received a request to do a small electrical job a couple of miles away but was back within the hour then off we went to the first bank. We had some trouble finding a parking space but eventually we did. I made the deposit then asked about including E on my account. Unfortunately the manager had left for lunch so we made an appointment for Wednesday morning. E had to go into town to do a little shopping and again we found it difficult to find anywhere to park. We allowed ourselves two hours on the meter and off we went on foot. Now I hate the crowded shopping experience, always have, and I make it my business to avoid shopping when I know the streets and shops will be packed with people. I like to move in quickly, buy what I want then get out as soon as I can. I know what I want and the places I need to visit to get them and I plan my route beforehand. However when I am with someone else I have to go at their pace and wherever they go I have to go. E cannot get about quickly because of her ailment and though she might have a plan in mind we always seem to dart from one place to the next in no particular order. That’s why we hardly ever shop together. I did buy one item for the house, a new cake tin! E had bought a flexible cake ‘tin’ not made of metal but a heat-proof rubber substance. I wanted a round metal one that produced straight-sided circular cakes instead of the rectangular ones I have been forced to bake lately. The sides are seldom vertical and straight with the flexible container. We were too late to go for a meal and although we could have found somewhere in town we knew everywhere would most likely be crowded. In any case we had no time left on the meter. One thing I never do when by myself is to pay for parking unless it is unavoidable. This time I was with E and she has to park reasonably close to her destination. It was after three o’clock before we finally got back home, too late for lunch, too early for dinner, so we each had a coffee and a slice of home-baked cake. The following morning, Wednesday I was up and about early despite the opportunity to stay in bed longer. I find it hard to simply lie there once I am awake. E and I were going to visit one of the banks I have an account with in order to arrange for her to be included on my account. It would then be a joint account. The appointment was for eleven and we didn’t leave the bank until twelve-fifteen. We drove off home so E could collect some things before going to collect her mum and do some more shopping. I remained at home and had some lunch. I had wished we might have gone out for a meal until she told me she was going shopping. Ah well there’s always another time. I was greeted by a telephone message indicator but the caller hadn’t actually left a message. I didn’t call back. I assumed they were asking for my electrical services.
I remember years ago, actually 1967, when I bought my first little car, a Hillman Imp, a lovely little car that used very little fuel, which at that time was only 3 shillings and 3 pence per GALLON. Ah, the good old days!
In today’s money that amounts to around 16 new pence. We cannot even buy a litre of fuel for that price today! Progress I suppose. I must admit to have been quite a novice in those days when it came to buying cars and insuring and taxing them. The MOT wasn’t required in those days either but that soon changed when they realised the amount of very poorly maintained vehicles that were being driven on the roads and to be honest, in a very dangerous condition in many cases. Although all these things were sometimes a bit of an inconvenience to organise and pay for it was and still is of course, a necessity. Another good thing to come from more recent legislation is the SORN (statutory off-road notification) declaration. If a vehicle is not going to be used for a long time it has to be declared as being ‘off road’ so that no tax will be demanded. This is to prevent abuse of the system and the driving of uninsured and untaxed vehicles. People still abuse the system though and many take a chance and drive around with no insurance to the detriment of others they may literally ‘bump’ into. Stern measures are in place to deal with anyone caught driving illegally. Anyway that brings me to the point of this post. My little van needs its road-fund licence renewing (tax) and its MOT renewing too else at the beginning of next month I will not be able to continue working! This used to mean a trip to the Post Office with the renewal form, the old MOT certificate, the insurance certificate and a means of paying by cash or debit card. Now it can all be done on the Internet! I don’t need to move from my armchair. I used the system last year for the first time and clicked on the site again today (Thursday) and completed the transaction. My new tax disk will be sent by post early next week. Before they issue the disk they check whether my MOT and insurance are valid for the date on the tax disk. They are, but they too need renewing. I know my insurance company will be sending me the usual reminder in the next few days and I can deal with that without having to leave home but I have to take the vehicle to the testing station for its MOT of course. I have arranged that to be done early on Tuesday morning. I don’t envisage any problems as the van hasn’t done more than four and a half thousand miles since the last test but you never know. If there are any problems I’ll quickly arrange for them to be dealt with. Sometime in the near future though I know my two front tyres will need replacing but at the moment I think there is enough tread for a couple of thousand miles wear yet so that shouldn’t be an issue. Again, you never know! I don’t much visit the bank, preferring to only go there when I have a considerable amount to deposit. I had accumulated such an amount and so I walked into town to make the deposit after driving half the distance there and parking just outside the meter zone as I usually do. It is almost impossible to find somewhere reasonably close to the bank anyway so it makes sense to walk in. One day I suppose we won’t need to actually visit a bank in order to deposit cash.