Friday, 23rd July, 2021

[Day 494]

What a very strange day today has been! We spent some time chatting animatedly with our domestic help who had given us a miss last week as she was busy with family matters and had to give us a miss. Anyway, as soon as we could, we went off to town and the weather is just starting to moderate itself from a very hot and sticky heat to something a degree or so less but with breezes that are almost cooling. We knew that we had to get home and have a fairly rapid lunch because it was absolutely vital that I get down into the local branch of HSBC which I did by about 1.20. As we shall see, the timing is quite important here because I explained to one of the two staff on duty in the branch of the bank that I needed to get in touch with the HSBC Safeguarding team. I explained that both myself and the treasurer of our residents association had hung on the phone for about 40 minutes without making any contact and could they help. The local staff were fairly sympathetic and let me have access to a desk and a phone to telephone their HQ. All in all, I waited for about 25 minutes and then made contact with the Safeguarding team – this appears to be a big drive against money laundering, fraud, scams and other internet-based ills. I managed to convince the Safeguarding team of my bona fides but then needed to be put onto their internet banking team as myself and the treasurer had not used (or forgotten) our log-in details. This time, I was put on hold for about 40 minutes although, in theory, it was only a transfer from one department within HSBC to another. Eventually, though, I got through a real live person but again the staff member had to be called who had then to give of all of her codes to establish her identity as well as mine. The upshot of all of this was that I finished off with our little business account verified, my user-name communicated to us (as I set it up 12 years ago and not used it, I had forgotten it) and when I returned home, I would be sent a password through my email. Once I get this part done at home (and I haven’t tried it yet), I then need to get onto my account details and fill in an on-line questionnaire which, once completed, I have to print off on my own printer. Then I have to take this completed document back to the branch where they have to scan it using their own scanners and their own secure lines for transmission to their HQ. So we will have to see how all of this works out. All in all, I was in the branch office for 1½ hours and the staff joked with me that they would provide me with a bed if I needed one. I then had to race to my own bank to get some money out of the ATM (and this worked as it should have done). Finally, I had to go and get my Pilates session paid for by card – I had tried to set up an online payment system but as the bare sort code details and account number generated a Germanic sounding back name and my own bank informed me that the payee details were not recognised by this system, I decided that this might prove foolhardy to set up with ‘iffy’ details. Although I had paid for a couple of hours parking, I only had about two minutes of legitimate parking time so I had to sprint (well, walk briskly) to ensure I did not end up with a parking fine.

After I had had a smidgeon of a much delayed lunch (ice-cream based as usual) I popped round to see my next door neighbour with whom I had set up a little arrangement to have a chat over some issues. There are some matters of mutual concern to our two adjoining properties so we had a very useful discussion (lubricated by a wonderful bottle of cooled ‘Newcastle Brown‘ I must say)

Earlier on today, I just caught snatches of some of the opening ceremony from the Tokyo Olympic Games. My own personal feelings are that it is rather ridiculous to have the Olympic Games held with no audiences, a majority of the host community opposed to it and the possibility of the most massive of ‘super-spreader’ events. From the bit that I saw which was the cauldron lighting ceremony lit by a young Japanese athlete. This seemed incredibly tastefully done and I must say I was impressed by the simplicity and the elegance of it all. Whether my views of the Olympic Games will change over the next week or so it is hard to say – the whole could end in disaster if more than a small number of athletes actually do get infected with COVID-19.