I’m delighted to say that my comic fantasy short story, Creative Accountancy for Beginners, is now published at Untreed Reads, and you can also read an extract to whet your appetite. Enjoy.
At the same time, my biblical short story about Moses’ wife, Little Bird, has been published by Pages of Stories webzine, so I’m pleased about that too. I must write another biblical tale at some point really, though I suppose biblical reinterpretation would be more accurate.
There have been some more nice reviews and chart listings this week too. The Delaneys and Me gained a lovely and very funny 4-star review at Goodreads, and was for a while at No 80 in the Amazon Kindle Gay Fiction charts. Not to be outdone, Give and Take received a 4-star review at Goodreads, but this week’s outright winner has definitely been Martin and The Wolf, which gained a 5-star review at Goodreads, and a 4-star review at Amazon Kindle where it was also briefly at No 89 in their Gay Fiction charts, hurrah.
Meanwhile, I’m also pleased to see that Thorn in the Flesh is available at a discount and with free worldwide delivery at The Book Depository and is, of course, always available as an Ebook in a variety of formats at All Romance Ebooks, where you can also read a fairly substantial extract to add spice and darkness to your Thursday …
And, finally or nearly finally in this section, you can find a good supply of my Ebooks at new Irish Ebookshop, DirectEbooks. Happy shopping!
This week’s meditation poems:
is a river
on its bright back
the things that are needed:
cedar, pine, wheat.
The mercies of God
are so deep
that no measures
to contain them.
to the centre:
this slow, hard journey
and how he remembers
the cutting, measurement,
placement of stone
and smoothed wood,
the blood, sweat,
scars and striving
constantly as if none of it
would ever be complete
and then, suddenly,
that one cool morning
when the rock-dove sang
and the air sparkled
just for a moment
at the edge of his eye
at the heart of it all:
a room protected
and a quiet realisation
Hell, what can I say … May I refer you to the title of this blog and ask you to sit comfortably, as (sigh …) we’re about to begin:
About 10 days ago, I made the (quickly foolish) decision to try to transfer my current account from my old bank to Lloyds as Lloyds offered interest on it and I thought that might be a good idea. Dear reader, I filled in the online new account/transfer request form on 6 July and sent it off. Into the void apparently, as I received no email notification that they’d got my form and indeed no acknowledgement whatsoever. Time, as it tends to do, ticked by and I wondered vaguely what might be happening to it, though I do understand that finances take time. I’m married to an accountant, so I really do understand that. On 12 July, I decided to ring them up to see when my new account might be ready (ah, the innocence of it …). I found a phone number and rang it. When I pressed “2” for the non-account holders’ option, I was taken to a voicemail message which told me I had to ring an entirely different number. More sighing. So I put the phone down and rang the new number instead. It told me I would have to wait 10 minutes, which being a 21st century customer I expected, so I settled down at the table with my paperwork and reference numbers to wait. After one minute (hurrah!) the phone was answered by a lady called Kate who didn’t really seem to grasp what I was trying to tell her and kept asking where my money was in Lloyds and what sort of account I had. I admit I was not at my best, so perhaps I was just being confusing. However, eventually, she understood what I’d done and looked up the online records. She then told me there was a problem on my account request and I would have to go in and speak to my local Godalming branch of Lloyds to sort it out. I enquired, as a matter of interest, how long it would have taken them to contact me to tell me that, or were they simply expecting me to chase them up to find that out. She responded by starting to tell me about what happened six months ago when she opened her own account. I cut her off by telling her I had no interest in her life story (yes, I really can be that bitchy, but occasionally I think I’m entitled …) and could she simply answer the question about when Lloyds had intended to contact me about this. She responded to that by carrying on with her obviously more interesting personal account-opening tale, and I simply then put the phone down. Whereupon I spent some time fuming and pacing the flat, revisiting my rather wide-ranging knowledge of swear-words. Poor Lord H …
The following day, I walked into Guildford at lunchtime from work and spoke to my current bank to make sure that if/when Lloyds contacted them they would be sure to ignore them as I had no intention of becoming a Lloyds bank customer at any point as the blessed Kate had entirely put me off. They very sweetly made a note of it, but then later rang me at home that day to say that I would also need to tell Lloyds not to go ahead with the transfer. Understandably enough. So I then spent some time attempting to do this online with Lloyds, and discovered that it’s simply not possible. So I gathered my courage in both hands, such as it is, and rang the helpline (ha!) again. Thankfully, Kate must have been out or lying down in a darkened room or something. Good, say I … Anyway I spoke to an equally callow young man who said that I would still have to go in and see the Godalming branch to sort it out as he couldn’t do anything over the phone or online. I said that seemed like a pretty poor customer service to me really and as he launched into what would no doubt prove to be a long and equally pointless explanation, I decided I simply didn’t want to hear any of it and put the phone down on him too. Perhaps he’s now also in that darkened room.
So, yesterday, I went in to work early to allow extra time at lunchtime to drive into Godalming to sort it out. I duly walked into Lloyds bank in the High Street and began telling my tale of woe to the first man I saw, who turned out to be the manager. His (really rather glorious though it didn’t feel it at the time) response was (and I quote):
I’m too important to deal with you and you’ll have to go away and come back at another time.
Marvellous. Customer service is alive and kicking and (not) living in Godalming. Naturally, dear reader, I expressed my opinion forcefully and with dedication in the public foyer – though I’m proud of the fact that I didn’t shout. I simply said that I had no intention of leaving and would stay here communicating my dissatisfaction with their service for as long as it took until my issue was sorted. The manager attempted to talk over me and tell me he couldn’t help and I still had to go away, but frankly by that stage I didn’t care if he was God, I expected him to sort out the problem even if he found a completely unimportant person to deal with it. Luckily, at that point, the really lovely and utterly efficient Karen Stenning whisked me away to her table, apologised profusely on the bank’s behalf (the first apology I’ve received all week, so thank you, Karen), listened with growing horror to my tale of woe, and then sorted it all out for me with style and finesse, and in a matter of minutes. Karen – you are truly marvellous and if you left and started your own bank, I would most certainly be your first and proudest customer. Thank you. It was a pleasure doing business with you – though I suppose that should be not doing business with you. Still, it was nice.
So, there you have it. Interestingly, today, I have received a package through the post from Lloyds thanking me for applying online and saying how much they were looking forward to having me as a customer. Lord preserve us. I am ignoring it, and hoping for the best. But if you do hear tell of a crazed woman venting her wrath on a Surrey bank manager, then it’s likely to be me …
Anyway, back to more spiritual matters. Bible study group last night was good (and good God, how I needed it, eh!). We were looking at St Paul’s letter to one of his underlings, Titus (you see, even St Paul wasn’t too important to write a letter when it was needed and, hell, he was a busy chap too …). It did amuse me though that the associate vicar’s husband walked in a little late and without his good lady wife, but with this glorious excuse for her absence: Sorry. Paul couldn’t come; he sends Titus … Which sums up the letter itself, really. Anyway, it’s the last group meeting before the summer and we’ve decided to look at the Book of Daniel in October, followed by Revelation after Christmas. Never say we don’t challenge ourselves here in the shires. It did worry me however that the vicar was muttering something about having an exam once we’ve finished the whole bible. I just hope it isn’t in Greek, God forbid. Do you think it’ll be multiple choice?
I must also say, on an entirely different matter but my brain is like a gazelle on a rock today sorry, that I’ve been deeply disappointed by the Prime Minister’s statements in Parliament about the Moat affair. His opinions seem mean and uncalled-for to me – far better surely to acknowledge the horror of the events and the terrible complexity of it all, to ask for a reasoned response from the public as far as that is possible, and to pray for all the victims involved. That was all that was needed – but making bitter personal comments about a dead man in public, however difficult and dangerous that man was, is beyond the pale and must be totally appalling for the family. Badly done, Mr Cameron. Very badly done. You should have taken a lesson from the open-hearted response of the policeman victim.
Finally (at last!), I’ve visited the dental hygienist today so my teeth are all gleaming and white, and even now planes are landing when I smile, hurrah. And, whilst there, I had a lovely chat with the dental nurse (hello, Margaret!) who, rather worryingly for her, has my blog on her i-phone as one of her favourite sites. Well, gosh! I’m deeply touched and it really made my day, but have you ever thought you might need help, Margaret?!? I can offer you the name of a very good therapist, you know …. Great to catch up with you though!
The Prayer Seeker’s Journal