Sunday, 27 October 2013

Red Tape

British Summer Time is officially over and we are now into Daylight Savings Time, the UK thus reverting to Greenwich Mean Time.  So thanks to this fabulous bright idea (no pun intended) we all get a bit of extra light plus an extra hour today.  How will you spend yours?
          I know what I’ll be doing.  I have an extra hour to pack boxes.  Moving Day is next Thursday.  Halloween.  So potentially there is a risk of double the amount of trick and treaters ringing the doorbell.
          Our home is no longer looking like a place where the heart is.  Instead it is simply a house.  A number of bare rooms devoid of personal belongings.  There is something very forlorn about it all, as if the house is saying, ‘What are you doing stripping me naked?’  It’s quite sad really.
          Yesterday was a day of marathon telephone calls trying to contact everybody before they all naffed off home to enjoy the rest of their weekend.  EDF Energy had such a long telephone wait time (fifty minutes) that the battery on my handset died.  On the third attempt – ringing from an old fashioned phone with a twirl cord – contact was finally made.  Currently it is only the Halifax bank who remain officially uninformed about our new address.
          ‘Hello? Hello!  I’d like to notify you of my change of address.’
          ‘Yes.  I’ll just get your details on my screen.  Ah, I see you have a joint account.’
          ‘Yes.  The account is in the name of me and my husband.’
          ‘Is your husband there?’
          ‘No. He’s been dispatched to do some chores relating to the house move. Although I suspect he’s standing inside a television shop watching Manchester United.’
          ‘Right.  The thing is, I need to speak to him too.’
          ‘Shall I get him on his mobile?  Perhaps I could press my mobile to this handset and you can speak to each other?’
          ‘That might be difficult.  I know!  Tell me your pin number and I’ll override my computer security.’
          ‘What pin number?’
          ‘You should have a six digit security number.’
          ‘No, sorry I don’t.’
          ‘Okay.  No worries.  I’ll send you one in the post.’
          ‘Fine.  But I’m moving.  So you’ll need my new address.’
          ‘Ah.  We’re not allowed to send it to the new address.  It has to go to the old address.’
          ‘Okay.  Well I’m at the old address until next Thursday.’
          ‘Oh dear.  The pin number will take seven working days to get to you.’
          ‘By which point we won’t be here.’
          ‘Yes.  I quite understand.  Um, what about you pop into the Halifax in person?’
          ‘Yes, I could come in on Monday.’
          ‘With your husband?’
          ‘Er, no.  He’ll be at his office.’
          ‘That won’t work either then.’
          ‘What about you ask me a million security questions.  You know, my mother’s maiden name and what colour toilet paper I use.’
          ‘I could in normal circumstances, but not for an address change.’
          I mean, seriously, who invented so much red tape that you can’t even update your new address?  Meanwhile I’ve resorted to the good old fashioned fallback of getting the Post Office to redirect all our mail.  Which reminds me.
          Last week God visited Noah, now living in the North of England.  God said, ‘Once again, mankind has become wicked.  Build an ark.  Save two of every living thing along with a few good humans.  You have six months before I start torrential rain for 40 days and 40 nights.’  Six months later God returned.  He saw Noah weeping, and absolutely no sign of an ark.  ‘Noah!  I’m about to start the torrential rain. Where is the ark?’  ‘Forgive me,’ Noah begged, ‘but things have changed.  I needed Building Regulations approval and I’ve been arguing with the Fire Brigade about a sprinkler system.  Getting the wood was a problem because all the trees have Preservation Orders on them, and I live in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty owned by The Woodland Trust which was set up to protect the spotted owl.  And when I started gathering the animals together, the RSPCA sued me for confining wild animals against their will. And then the County Council, the Environment Agency and the Rivers Authority ruled that I couldn’t build an ark until they’d conducted an Environmental Impact Study on your flood proposal.  The Trade Union said I couldn’t employ my sons and that I could only hire accredited workers with ark building experience.  And to make matters worse, Customs & Excise seized all my assets claiming I was trying to leave the country illegally with endangered species.  So forgive me, Lord, but it’s going to take at least ten years to build this ark.’  Suddenly the skies cleared and the sun shone down.  A vast rainbow stretched across the sky. Noah looked up in wonder.  ‘Does this mean you are no longer going to destroy the world?’  ‘No,’ boomed God, ‘it seems the Government have beaten me to it.’


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