Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Marmalade and Cheques

Marmalade and cheques. Just two of the things that made this country great. Both at risk. I also miss asterisks. Rude words seem so much less f***ing rude without them. The more in-yer-face society gets, the more it loses its power to shock, and let's face it, its power (though I must own to a sneaking temptation to succumb to this t-shirt when I saw it at Camden Lock the other week).

We have a society now which lets us 'vent' - ie rant and rave about its injustices using as many rude words as we wish to get it out of our system, whilst stealing back by stealth our historically hard-won civil rights to peaceful protest and other restitution under the guise of 'terrorism prevention' and then does what it always intended to do - either ignores us, turns into an inflexible Big Brother extorting money with menaces whether we owe it or not, particularly from those who might be law-abiding enough to pay whatever fine our overweight wheelie bin chip has grassed us up to the council for, or pacifies us with a load of empty politician speak (ie ignores us) - the first thing I would ban if I became PM by the way. Any colleague who had been tutored to appear honest by a presentation coach would be out on their asterisk.

And while it seems like a cop out, my second action as Prime Minister would be to save everything we currently have that is at risk such as post offices, analogue signals, pubs, free cash dispensers and the aforementioned cheques, without which it is not only OAPs who would be lost - some of we younger voters still write a fair number of them too. How else do you send money through the post for example when it is not appropriate to open an online account with that party or individual and you wouldn't want them having that much personal information about you anyway? What will charities do when they want a big f***-off cheque for someone who's just abseiled down the local hospital to raise it proudly for the presentation photograph? Not only was my first cheque book a meaningful rite of passage into the adult world, I went on to process cheques as one of my first jobs - and dispute it costs as much as banks are trying to l** it does - well I know I was paid peanuts for processing in excess of £3m a day anyway. Plus what about all the years banks sat on the money for 3 days creaming off the interest until it appeared in the payee's account? Delays continue to this day I believe, not to mention the massive charges imposed when they bounce or render an account accidentally overdrawn. Then there's the charges to stop them. Far from being some altruistic gesture the banks have bestowed upon the customer out of the goodness of their steel-vaulted hearts, I would have thought cheques have until now been a nice little earner for them and am astonished they want to do away with them. Credit cards are no more secure after all, though perhaps more lucrative for the banks with the interest rates charged and some with monthly 'reward' or yearly fees attached, not to mention their share of any transaction fees.

Well that's enough venting from me - I'm off to eat some more marmalade. Later on I might write a cheque for an evening newspaper. I'm anarchic like that.


The Not-so-Spotless Mind said...

Hear, hear! Blooming check these politicians!

Loved the rant, and I want one of those T-Shirts!!

The Not-so-Spotless Mind said...

APOLOGIES: *cheek, NOT CHECK, ALthough "blooming cheque" would have been a good pun had I thought of it!!

Tessa said...

Marmalade is at risk? On what conceivable grounds? As for cheques, I'm with you in thinking these have been a nice little earner for banks over the years. And it's not as if they give them away for free; we do have to pay for our little books of paper. I seem to remember there being a bit of a kerfuffle some years ago, when people started writing cheques on their bottoms and on dinner plates, just to test the theory that, as long as it had a stamp (for the duty) ad the right wording, you could write a "cheque" on just about anything and the banks had to honour it. We've come a long way, baby ... pity we had to drop standards along the way!

Dan said...

I do wonder how people manage without their online existence. Fleur's father is a retired inventor who still gets interested clients, yet he has no internet connection, doesn't want it, and uses CAD programs from 15 years ago for his engineering projects! He'd be the remaining few to use chequebooks - I admire that, in a way, but wouldn't rue the disappearance of them, nor wuld I regard them (unlike marmalade) as a cultural treasure...

That said, t-shirts with foul slogans, books in shop windows like "MY SHIT LIFE SO FAR" - I do wonder exactly where the taboos lie and if there are any remaining, whether they require breaking. Comedy clubs seem filled wth people joking about paedophilia, murder and disease. I spent a depressing few hours on YouTube exploring "edgy" comedians such as Doug Stanhope, and feel that, brilliant and funny as they are, the nihilism is something any secular person should reject. I'm fascinated and drawn to things like that - particularly how they can sustain tours being so absolutely negative and life-hating i.e. how do they get out of bed?!

My own rant, hijacking yours since I don't have a blog!

You're onto something, as always.

Wisewebwoman said...

Dear Gawd, Laura!
Marmalade on the endangered species list? Say it ain't so! I loves me my marmalade. I could write an essay on the many and endless varieties, including but not restricted to some fabulous greengage an aunt made. But I digress.
I hate cheques. Now I have to print them for my company. But I hate them. I wish everything was on line. Everything. Even though the banks cheat all the time and hold e-wires for a few days to suck up interest. Bastard Wanker Bankers.
But not books. No time for the kindles and the pads.
Books are sensuous, sensual. Kindle is not.

Steve said...

Too right, 'cos when these politicians go on fundraisers do they turn down cheques and whip out handy chip & pin devices instead...? I don't think so!

Nota Bene said...

What? Marmalade is being phased out to be replaced by credit cards? What will Paddington Bear do? And without cheques, how will I be able to say to my creditors - "The cheque's in the post" F**k

Rol said...

I wrote two cheques yesterday and I bet both of them will be cashed no problem.

A debit card payment I tried to make this morning has already been rejected by my bank, despite the fact it's the third such payment I've made in as many months, and now I have to go through all the hassle of contacting the person I was trying to pay and getting them to rebill me.

So, f***, yeah.

The Sagittarian said...

And please bring back glass milk bottles...

Oliver said...

I like keeping cheques that people give me, not cashing them.

Cheques books are also good for waving at b'stards who are trying to do you over in libel trials - as Peter Cook famously did during a Private Eye case.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Thanks for dropping by Not So Spotless Mind. And for your kind comments.

Tessa, Capital idea! I shall write a cheque on my bottom as protest - and then make them process me through a DRE machine! Apparently marmalade is on the wane as it is not sweet enough for today's 'eat on the hoof' palate - they'd rather have a Danish pastry or jam on pain au chocolat instead.

Dan, thank you for your comments. I like my edgy comedians with a surreal twist I have to admit, so Armando Iannucci is more my cup of tea. As for cheques, you don't know what you're missing! There's something splendidly tactile and reassuring about a cheque that you just don't get with an electronic transaction (and I speak as someone with a PayPal account as well).

WWW - well at least we can compromise on marmalade. I do love my cheques though. As I said to Dan, there is something solid and reassuring about cheques that you just don't get with an online transaction.

Steve - quite. I can see this anti-cheque prejudice backfiring nastily for our politicians the moment they want a donation from someone who doesn't want to give them their DNA with payment.

Nota Bene - excellent points - Save Paddington Bear indeed! And what kind of a sick society is it when we can't claim that a cheque is in the post???

Rol, thank you for illustrating my point so perfectly.

Sagittarian - reintroduction of glass milk bottles coming up! And quite right, we haven't had a GREENER recycling system than the age-old milk bottle.

Oliver, you are even more sentimental about cheques than I am!

mothership said...

I am a bumpkin EX PAT as has come to my attention this week when both my UK bank and my UK credit card have tried to dump me despite making money from me. It has been 6 years. I did not realise that cheques were going to be done away with. This is actually a CRIME against my sense of ADULTHOOD. I don't bounce them anymore these days because I am boringly solvent, but I still get a tiny thrill handing one over because there is a moment when I am 17 again and I'm watching some fool mistake it for REAL MONEY and my inner teenager goes laughing like a hyena into the night and spends all my cash on spliff and coca cola. Then I come back into the present and the cheque goes through and it's all normal. I hate to think they're going to take that moment away from me. I'll be proper old then.
I've never cared for marmalade, myself, but it's the principle of the thing, I do understand.