Lady Barton St Mary instructed me to set up my side of an online joint mortgage application, having completed her own. Amazingly, I managed to do the computery bit, all the time worrying that I may have completed some financial transaction that cost us all of our worldly goods and would cause Lady BSM to do something unimaginably unpleasant to me with a fountain pen. All I had to do was telephone the bank and ‘activate’ my account. I love all this jargon; as a child I dreamed of being Illya Kuryakin in The Man from Uncle and being ‘activated’ by a computer. However, this wasn’t how I’d imagined it would turn out. Anyway, I called.
(Automated answer machine and funky music that initially greets you).
Bank: Hello, The Bank, James speaking. How may I help you?
Me: Hello James. I’d like to activate my account mortgage online thingy.
Bank: Certainly. We just have to go through a few routine security questions.
Me: (Swallow something large) O.K.
Bank: Firstly, do you have any other accounts with us?
Bank: Ermm… do you have any other accounts with us?
Me: I don’t know.
Bank: (stifled laughter, I imagine James looking at colleague and pointing to phone) Ah, that’s OK, we’ll try something else.
Me: I’m not very good at this am I?
Bank: It’s fine, sir, honestly. (Image of James putting me onto speaker phone and special ‘I’ve got a live one!’ notice lighting up in call centre).
Bank: Let’s try something else. What’s your memorable question?
Me: I have a memorable question?
Bank: (James with wavy mouth, shoulders shaking) Yes, sir. Could you tell me what your memorable question is?
Me: I can’t remember.
(James stuffs fist in mouth and raises eyes to sniggering co-workers).
Bank: Never mind. Just tell me how much money you’re asking to borrow.
Me: Oh sorry. I didn’t say anything.
Bank: Sorry. I just wanted to know how much money you wished to borrow.
Me: I don’t know.
Bank: (James making lunatic whirly finger signs next to his head)
Me: I think perhaps I should call back.
Bank: Well, if you think that’s best, sir…
Me: Yes, I think I’ll do that. Thanks, bye.
Bank: Thanks yes, speak to you later.
(As I hang up phone, hear delirious laughter from entire call centre staff echoing in my ears).