Posts Tagged ‘bank


Competition: Give me your tips on how to be utterly and completely miserable and win a prize!

Today is officially the most depressing day of the year – you probably haven’t noticed, because as far as all of us who don’t have birthdays in January are concerned, the entire month is packed with a grim succession of unrelentingly depressing, bleak days during which our only entertainment is limited to wringing out our shirts when they become overly-sodden with bitter tears.

I have long thought that there is a compelling argument for us all to go into hibernation on January 1 and not come out until Pancake Day. And, incidentally, that Pancake Day should be moved to June.

I see no way that today can be my most depressing day of the year – for a start, I’m not at work, secondly I’m not planning to leave the house all day, thirdly I just found £5 in a coat I haven’t worn for months. In fact the most depressing thing about today might well be the realisation that my worst day of the year is yet to come.

It might be tomorrow. It might be the next day. Considering my company is downsizing in March, it might be backdated until Spring.

If only misery could be scheduled into your diary for when you’ve got enough spare time to wallow in self-pity, rather than it biting you on the arse when you’ve got a million and one other things to do. Just what is our preoccupation with being happy all the time, anyway? Surely one cannot truly appreciate the sun without having experienced the rain?

With this cheery, positive thought in mind, I’m thinking of planning a truly terrible day so that when genuinely miserable things do happen, they’ll seem like a walk in the park by comparison.

If you’re keen to follow suit (and why wouldn’t you be? Who doesn’t enjoy a hell of their own making? What do you mean you didn’t spend half your teenage years in a darkened bedroom listening to The Cure and writing poetry?) I’ve compiled a handy, cut-out-and-keep fast-track guide to guaranteed desolation. I know: I spoil you lot.

1) Go into a mobile phone shop and ask for something really simple, like a mobile phone. Set the timer on your watch and observe as an hour of your life drains away while a teenager called Glenn drones on about contracts, talk-time, ‘free’ text messages which you pay through the nose for and then, inexplicably, gives you £15 of your own money back as ‘cashback’ when he could have just deducted £15 off the bill in the first place. Leave with a phone which cost you three times more than you intended to pay.

2) Take your children shopping to the supermarket. Enter into as many pointless rows about what you will and won’t buy as possible.
Try and include the phrase: “I don’t care what (insert name of child’s friend) x’s mother lets them eat” regularly. Leave in a cloud of shame as your offspring sob pitifully – and loudly – at the lack of Dairylea Lunchables and/or 2ft Lindt chocolate Easter bunnies in your trolley.

3) Decide that today is the day that you will get on top of your finances and sort out all that paperwork you’ve been avoiding for months. Read through all your old bank statements, circling all the purchases you made which were an utter waste of money and which brought you only spiritual hollowness and financial penury. Realise that you have spent £514 at Thresher in six weeks. Realise that your car insurance direct debit has mysteriously disappeared and that you have been driving illegally for the past nine months. Realise that your financial future involves queuing up at soup kitchens and carrying your bed in an Asda carrier bag. Spill tea over several vital documents. Go back to Thresher.

4) Clean the oven. Make sure you start less than 30 minutes before you have to go out and that you wear something white.

5) Try and get a cat in a cat basket. You may want to pick your day to be truly miserable on the basis of when you next need to take your cat to the vet. If you don’t have a cat, borrow the least friendly one you can find. For full effect, ensure that you forget to lock the cat flap and that you are wearing something flimsy and sleeveless as you attempt to force a formidably large cat into a formidably small basket.

6) Google all the hobbies, pastimes and vices which make your life worth living and realise that everything you do is killing you, in a really horrific way. Do not allow yourself the luxury of marvelling that you’ve made it to your grand old age without succumbing to heart disease/cancer or a whole host of stress-related illnesses – they’re in the post.

All together now, stop being so bloody chirpy and join me in a mission to reclaim misery for ourselves. And there’s a prize* for whoever comes up with their own top tips for being utterly desolate – put the meths down, wipe away the tears and leave me your comments.

* Terms and conditions apply and will be made up on the spot by me when I find a winner.


Reasons why NatWest’s new TV advertisement is less sincere than a fox offering a chicken a haircut

NatWest’s new ‘Helpful Banking’ TV campaign highlights the institution’s free, impartial financial advise from Money Sense advisers who have been given in-depth training (for one whole day) about how best to patronise half-wits about how they spend their cash.

In the advertisement, an adviser lurks in a bank lobby like a preying mantis, waiting to pounce on the first poor bastard that stumbles in to use the ATM machine or deposit a day’s takings. It’s easy to spot a Money Sense adviser from the usual person dispatched to the front counter to greet the public – the advisers have spent eight hours learning how to smile, the front counter assistant didn’t earn the nickname ‘Vinegar Tits’ for nothing.

Money Sense advice can be roughly split into three main categories: (1) Unbelievably patronising (2) Insultingly obvious (3) Awe-inspiringly transparent.

A woman who gets pissed on a regular basis and uses her debit card to withdraw more and more drinking money is told to leave the card at home. A man who has been paying his utility bills with carefree abandon for years is told to shop around for a better deal. A grandmother who keeps chickens is told how to suck eggs.

All advice is greeted with a level of incredulity that leads you to believe that the customers in question are being handed the ordnance survey co-ordinates for the Holy Grail rather than a series of blindingly obvious platitudes scripted by five-year-olds.

I fully expect the next advertisement to show Money Sense advisers asking customers if they’ve heard of something called ‘the internet’ or informing them that the moon isn’t made of cheese. The concepts will be so mind-blowing that every customer in the branch will instantly burst into flames leaving only a few heaps of ash and the charred remains of half a dozen Money Sense brochures.

I do not bank at NatWest. I am still smarting over its refusal to give me a china pig money bank in the 1980s because I already had an account at Midland.

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