These foolish things

Today has been a special All Fool’s Day for me, in that until 6.30 pm I spent it dealing with fools in all the sizes and all the colours.

Picking up my landline phone in order to ask the gendarmes what the progress might be on giving severe gallic warnings to the braindead cockney plumber who insists I owe him money I clearly don’t, I was informed that my phone had been cut off due to non-payment of the bill. I rang a 1014 freefone number for the Orange glow that now runs all things digital in France, and was informed that yes, I had not paid the bill.

“But,” I began laconically, “I pay you by automatic monthly debit at the bank”.

“Correct,” he agreed, “and the bank refused it because it was beyond your overdraft limit”.

“But I don’t have an overdraft,” I countered calmly, “There’s a five-figure sum at the bank”.

“Yes, we know that,” the bloke cheerfully acknowledged, “and because the debt was refused, we sent you three telephonic warnings about it.”

“Er,” I began to ask, my karma diluting by the second, “were the voices real or pre-recorded?”

“Orrhehoorhehorhor,” he enunciated, “pre-recorded naturellement monsieur. We use the very latest software to this end”.

“Indeed,” I responded, a tic of irritation by now discernible in my voice, “but given that you allow any recorded Stepford Grant Shapps Wife to ring my number 24/7 with pre-recorded offers of zero interest to me, I ignored those messages as more of the same.”

“You must discuss this impasse with your bank,” he asserted, “Do you want to pay the bill now by bankers’ card?”

“Not really,” I muttered through gritted teeth, “What I’d really like to do is subject your corporate HQ to Friendly Fire, but as this is not an option open to me, yes I will – and I shall pay with an English bankers’ card”.

After we tried three in a row and all were refused, the chap in the Orange Call Centre became increasingly abrupt and offensive. You clearly have a credit problem, he alleged. ‘No’ I thought, ‘I have a dealing-with-fuckwits problem’.

“Might I suggest,” I of the trembling voice about to become red-mist rage asked, “You check your approval technology?”

Under extreme duress, he did. The voice that returned adopted a very different and more grovelling tone. Just not grovelling enough for me by this point.

“Yes monsieur,” he announced, “regrettably, you are right. There is a malfunction in our credit approval systems. I shall have to process this transaction manually”.

My brain is not what it was. But the crack about the ‘regrettable’ nature of me being the customer and right drove the magma in my volcanic reservoir closer to Krakatoa level Defcom 3 with terrifying speed.

After endless repetitions, passwords, memorable information tests, expiry dates and mother’s maiden name impertinence, I finally got to pay the bill my bank should’ve paid back in February. There was no apology. There was only, “Is there anything else you can help me with today?”

Sweet Jesus. “Yes,” I replied, “How many beans make five, and what’s the capital of Transylvania?”


I have a Gold Premier Card with Credit Agricole: they finally gave me this – kicking and screaming – after months of execrable service during which they held six-figure house restoration funds of mine at 0% Zirp, but refused to allow me a daily expenditure level beyond €80.

It now transpires that my Gold Card only offers a temporary €1000 daily spending allowance. And that period has now run out. I spent much of this afternoon trying to explain to bank staff the customer/ownership of money/not your f**king money it’s my f**king money Thing. I nearly threw up with anger, then I gave up in favour of cruel sarcasm, and finally I hung up.

Tomorrow will now be spent going back to my VIP transactions in English service at Credit Ag central office. This will of course be another morning spent with options, Mozart, and endless other crap. But at the end of it all, I arrive back at the same starting point: WTF do timid, older, more downmarket and less obnoxious customers than I do to try and get some service out of those who dispense comms and money?


Things got a lot better after 6.30 pm, because my neighbours Francis and Nadine had invited me for drinks: and as Francis in particular is a fan of Tennessee Bourbon Whiskey, he was insistent that I sample his new find, a honeyed form of Jack Daniels. It’s a nice drink, not unlike a cross between Grand Marnier and Kümmel. As I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, needless to say the booze bypassed my stomach and went straight through the throat glands heading upwards to destroy the Sensible Thought brain regions. It was only after several pints of fridge-chilled tap water and a shower that I was able to produce tonight’s missive.

So now I must away in order to consume an omelette laced with chives and garlic….but let me nevertheless end on a high note: the new Electrolux has arrived, and today transformed my grubby duvet cover into a snow white perfection. Upon such small mercies – for the lucky buggers like me – doth peace of mind reside.

Yesterday at The Slog: Once again, Geli Merkel plays the game-changing card