Category Archives: church

On the market …

Life news:

Our flat is finally on the market (hurrah!) and can be found in all its Victorian glory at RightMove. All reasonable offers considered, naturally. Everyone does seem to love (or hate!) our zebra rug, but hey that zebra was one class act. Even had its own seat on the train when K brought it all the way back from north London some years ago …

We’ve also been continuing to view properties and have a list of 3 so far that we’d like to view again if they’re still available by the time we find our own buyer: one in Godalming in a location to die for, gloriously spacious rooms and with a garden you’d have to bring a telescope to see the end of; one in Normandy which was really lovely (apart from the bitchy owner who did rather put me off, what a cow …) and had a glorious set of coloured tiles in the pleasingly large kitchen; and one in Elstead (my favoured village) with so much in the not-very-large-but-very-cleverly-arranged garden that you’d definitely have to take tours round it. Next week I’m viewing another house in Elstead during the week, and then I hope to set up two Normandy bungalow viewings for K and me next Saturday. Really it’s all go.

We’ve also been filling in a mound of paperwork for the fast-start conveyancing service, and will send it off to the solicitors after we’ve seen the mortgage specialist next Saturday morning. I suspect they’re going to have fun with our leasing arrangements. Apparently the estate agents have already had a great deal of fun with them as part of our lease forbids anyone in the house to set up a brothel or a pub, and it’s the first time the agents have come across that one! I suspect it stems from the time when there was a brothel down our road a few decades ago and eventually they pulled the whole house down. Though one assumes not when there was someone still in it.

Also yesterday, I helped out with the open day at the university at the last minute (in between house viewings) as there was a gap we couldn’t fill and I didn’t want to leave one person on her own. Loads of questions about finances, naturally, but it’s all very fluid at the moment so we’re really not quite sure how the new system will all work out, or even if it will. Loads of people there too as they want to start next year before the fees are raised, so it was busy busy busy.

This morning, we graced the doors of church – the poor vicar’s not very well at all, so Jenny took the service and has apparently told the Archdeacon (giving him no room for contradiction) that the vicar needs time off, and she and the other priest will handle everything until December. Good for her – it takes a woman to sort things out when the men are faffing around, you know! And double good for her as Archdeacons can be tricky, as we all know from the recent TV series, Rev. K and I were also deeply bamboozled by the fact that someone called him Kevin during the peace and the server gave him the wine with the words: The blood of Christ, Peter … I reckon Kevin is my No 2 husband and Peter is my No 3 husband – lordy, no wonder we need a larger house. Really, it’s an utter mystery why K, Kevin and Peter haven’t ever bumped into each other in the 17 years we’ve lived here. Thank goodness for lofts …

After that we’ve had a lovely house-free time at Wisley where the peculiarly named Europom event has been taking place to celebrate autumn this weekend. Yes, I thought it was Europorn too when I first read it but actually it’s do to with apples. As an apple farmer’s daughter, I had to attend of course. And how lovely it is to see the Laxton apple on sale – the last time I saw a Laxton was thirty years ago, so it certainly brought back old memories. I also appeared to be the only woman in the apple-tasting queue who knew how to pronounce Pearmain – no, no, people! It’s not Pear-man, it’s per-MAIN

Book News:

Much to my delight, A Dangerous Man is now available at All Romance Ebooks, though someone hates it so much they’ve allocated it a one-star rating which somehow always cheers me. I have to say it’s a literary rather than a romance novel, so I suspect it’s not what that particular Cross Reader was expecting.

Meanwhile, I have posted about what’s coming up this week at Vulpes Libris Reviews, a week which is packed full of endings, orgasms and secrets, so well worth keeping an eye on each day’s review in the run-up to All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day (as I prefer to call the season …).

Today’s meditation poem is:

Meditation 448
Only a quiet room
and the faint echo
of weeping elsewhere

accompany this wild hope
that from death
something more will appear.

The Sunday haiku is:

The shadowed garden
whispers its secrets to me.
From next door: laughter.

Anne Brooke

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Dullness, Danger and Dubai

Book News:

Much to my delight, my latest gay short story, Brady’s Choice, has been accepted for publication by Amber Allure Press on 23 January, so it’s nice to have something to look forward to in the post-Christmas lull. Still much to look forward to this year however, as A Dangerous Man is due out on 15 October and can now even be preordered at Barnes & Noble, well gosh. You can find out more at Cheyenne Publishing, including a full blurb. I’m also happy that for a brief moment of time, Tommy’s Blind Date found itself at No 79 in the Amazon Gay Fiction charts so that was distinctly nice while it lasted.

Meanwhile, this week, I have just finished the dullest poetry book I have ever had the trauma of reading so thank goodness that’s over. I daren’t say who the author was to avoid their blushes but it was pretty bad. So bad it made my skin itch. I’m hoping my next poetry book will be better, but really that shouldn’t be too hard …

This week’s meditations are:

Meditation 436
Sometimes the god
of the mountain

is also the god
of the plain

and what you say
to the sky in secret

will come down
to destroy you again.

Meditation 437
If the bible
has taught me one thing
it’s this:

that lions and prophets
simply don’t mix.

The Sunday haiku is:

All week long the sky
lets fall its burden of rain,
soothing all my dreams.

Life News:

The redecoration of our spare room is now nearly done. We’ve tackled the last alcove and added two coats of paint to it today, plus I’ve put an undercoat on the skirting board there. We’re also slowly putting the rest of the spare room together again, including bookshelves and book cabinets but are reorganising it  to make best use of the space. Today, I’ve done another run to the council tip and also got rid of 4 more bags of books, and have this afternoon created another three book bags to go. It’s so cleansing, you know, and the good news is that the spare room that we’ve basically used as a dumping ground for 17 years now looks like a room someone might want to buy, hurrah. Ooh, and yesterday, we drove round looking at places we might like to live, and our favourites so far are Normandy, Fairlands and Wood Street Village (the latter two are in the outskirts of Guildford). We also liked Ash and Ash Vale/Ash Green, but it does depend where in those cases. We also looked at Tongham, but I think that’s third level on our list.

Church this morning was good too, especially as it seems like we haven’t paid God a call for ages (we haven’t), so nice to catch up. He’s having a quiet time before Christmas kicks in, if you’re asking. In addition, the poor vicar has apparently contracted pneumonia whilst on holiday (holidays: they’re not good for you, you know) but is being ministered to by the ladies of the parish (Gawd bless ’em) so every cloud does indeed have a silver lining. In our absence, the church also seems to have given birth to a music group, which K and I looked at with horror when we turned up as any whiff of evangelical happy-clappyness and we’ll be running to the door screaming. However, we needn’t have worried as it was clarinets only adding to the whole ambience of the hymns (very good indeed) and the singers sang a marvellous Latin chant during Communion. Bliss. Bring back Latin chants – they really do put the zing back into church-going. So the music group gets our vote, and I hope they keep that whole approach: it was great.

Alas however, next week I shall be sad and lonely as K is going to Dubai on business tomorrow and isn’t back till Thursday, so I will be Queen of this old Victorian house in truth. I can’t decide whether I want to be Miss Haversham or the Mad Woman in the Attic, but they are probably much of a muchness anyway. Thank goodness that Strictly Come Dancing is back on TV to keep me company or I shall indeed run mad. You have been warned …

Anne Brooke

Houses and haikus

Life News:

Sadly, all is not too good on the house front, I’m sorry to say. Our attempt to buy the flat beneath ours in order to expand into an actual house is being put into jeopardy by the sellers playing a rather interesting game with exchange and completion dates. One moment they agree on both these, then they don’t like the exchange date, then they decide they like the exchange date but don’t like the completion one. Honestly it started out being all very disheartening but has now become somewhat amusing. We have had little option but to respond with firm but fair emails and by ignoring the phone-calls we’ve been getting. Interesting too that the emails they send say something rather different from the phone messages, hey ho, but we’re trying to back off and remain neutral until they and our hard-pressed legal teams sort out between themselves exactly what their position might be, Gawd bless ’em.

Their main point of contention, however, appears to be that one of the sellers is on holiday from today and can’t sort the place out in time. Hmm, it’s the first we’ve heard of that and in any case seeing as the flat has been empty since March, the argument doesn’t impress us much. And we remain even less impressed by the fact that we ourselves were intending to go on holiday in September but have put that off in order to deal with house matters. And, besides, what’s so hard about the remaining seller putting stuff in boxes and taking it away so the one on holiday can deal with it later?? It’s not rocket science, you know. Believe you me, the more they say, the less they are endearing themselves and their position to us.

In any case, we’ve decided that the exchange date will be Tuesday 7 September, as agreed, and the planned completion date, which they had originally agreed should be two weeks after that, will be three weeks after that on Tuesday 28 September if only in order to show that we at least do understand the meaning of compromise. Frankly, if that’s not acceptable, then we’ve seen some nice-looking houses with gardens in the area that don’t need quite so much work and which we can – hurrah! – still afford, so moving out of our current place entirely is beginning to look fairly attractive! Watch this space, eh …

Anyway, we got away from the whole ridiculous shennanigans yesterday by spending a lovely day at Hinton Ampner. Can’t imagine why we’ve never been before, but it’s great and the weather smiled upon us. The house there is good too – especially because there weren’t that many people around so the woman in the main bedroom let us through to the en-suite which was stunning and had the best view from a loo-seat that I’ve ever seen. How I envy that! Maybe we should put in an offer?

This morning, we decided to pop into church. Verdict: good sermon, if longer than we’re used to, but it was a visiting preacher and they’re always a law unto themselves. And the piece of wafer I was given at Communion was the largest I’ve ever known so perhaps the preacher thought I looked terribly sinful and needed all the help I could get. Hell, he’s not wrong there. I still hadn’t managed to swallow it down by the time I got to the wine moment so had to store the dang biscuit in my cheeks like a crazed holy chipmunk while I tried to look serious. Ah the joys of Anglicanism.

Meanwhile, over at The Bemused Gardener, I remain bamboozled by flower names …

Book News:

I’m astonished to discover that The Girl in the Painting was Untreed Reads‘ 2nd highest bestseller during August, well gosh. Memo to self: must write more lesbian literary stories then, if they prove that popular … Many thanks to those who’ve bought a copy – much appreciated.

Sales news hot off the press: there’s 20% off all my Dreamspinner Press titles this weekend and 15% off Angels and Airheads, with the code anniv2010 – happy shopping!

This week’s meditation poems:

Meditation 417
Not all the bread,
cakes or honey
in the world

can bring healing
when God has decided
to kill.

Meditation 418
Your deeds, battles,
and decisions,
good or bad,

are all finally
swallowed up
by death.

Meditation 419
It’s a shame
the secret sins
that anger God

always seem
just so damned attractive.

This week’s haiku:

Scent of vanilla
and roses laces the air
in rich hopefulness.

Anne Brooke
The Bemused Gardener

House news and the vanishing Kindle

Life News:

Great imminent joy afoot in the House Department, you’ll be glad to hear – it’s possible that we may have an exchange date of next Thursday, with a completion date two weeks from that. At least that’s what we’re aiming for but, what with the bank holiday, we have yet to have that confirmed by the vendors. I’m hoping that will be okay though, as I’d ideally like to be in our new expanded house by the middle of September. Watch this space …

Whilst waiting for all that to go through (we hope!), there’s more exciting news on the Amazon Kindle front – they attempted to deliver it yesterday but we were out so I know it exists somewhere in the hemisphere and is attempting to reach me, hurrah. I imagine they’ll try to deliver again on Tuesday, by which time I’ll be at work, so I’m planning to ring them up early then and see if I can collect it from the despatch point in Guildford after work. I can’t wait!

And I’m back at my Alexander Technique lessons – they’ve been off for the summer as my tutor broke her foot, poor thing, but she’s well enough to restart now, so I hope my terribly stiff neck might be sorted out soon. Double hurrahs if that’s the case indeed.

Yesterday, we spent a day at Mother’s (hence the inability to receive my Kindle), and today we popped into the Benefice Communion service as Church returns to its routine after the usual C of E August shennanigans (sp?). Much amusement at the start of the service when the lady vicar forgot her glasses and was making please lend me some glasses signs behind the altar plus lots of giggling. Thankfully someone in the congregation swiped his wife’s glasses (I assume he had permission but really who’s to say …!) and leapt into the breach. I think said wife then borrowed someone else’s and so it went on. Heck we all know the service by now so we really don’t need to see the words …

Meanwhile, at The Bemused Gardener, I am bamboozled by compost and tomatoes. Probably not in that order.

Book News:

I’m happy to see that four of my short stories are in the Waterstone’s Top 10 e-short stories list, so that’s nice. And The Delaneys and Me managed to get to No 32 in the Amazon Gay Fiction charts, but has now dropped out entirely.

I was pleased however that Angels and Airheads gained a nice review at Three Dollar Bill Reviews, so thank you for that.

This week’s meditation poems are:

Meditation 412
When preparing for war
the voice of God

sent everyone home
unbloodied and whole;

if only today
some brave politician

would stand and proclaim
a similar goal.

Meditation 413
God is so distant
sometimes

that only the thought
of gold

can act as a substitute
for love.

Meditation 414
The old paths
are not the best ones
today;

retrace your steps
another way.

This week’s haiku is:

The garden rises
in my dreams: green and haunting,
whispering of leaves.

Anne Brooke
The Bemused Gardener

Royalties, rifles and reviews

Book news:

I’m frankly astonished to find out that my royalties this quarter from Amber Allure Press are one-third up on what they were last quarter, well gosh. Perhaps I’m not doing quite so badly after all, then. Does this justify raising my status from Z-list author to Y-list author? Who can tell …

Not only that but sales of The Bones of Summer in paperback have actually risen since last quarter also, though ebook sales are alas down. It’s all something of a mystery, much like the book itself. Meanwhile, The Delaneys and Me reached No 12 in the Amazon Gay Fiction charts, a fact that caused me to have to lie down in a darkened room whilst hyperventilating for a while, though it’s fallen somewhat now.

Speaking of Amazon, new in the Kindle this week is The Boilerman and The Bride, and good grief but some kind soul must have bought a copy as it actually has a rating – thank you, kind buyer! Also new at Kindle is Tuluscan Six and The Time Circle, and this also now appears at All Romance Ebooks. I’m also very pleased to say that The Girl in the Painting is on sale at Rainbow eBooks, and that Creative Accountancy for Beginners is mentioned at Spalding’s Racket – thanks, Nick.

Turning to future and hoped-for future publications, I’m thrilled to see that A Dangerous Man is now up at the front page of Cheyenne Publishing, noted as Coming in October – so that’s getting dangerously (sorry!) exciting. And I’ve not only written a draft ending of The Executioner’s Cane, the third and final part of my Gathandrian fantasy trilogy, but I’ve reached the 60,000 word marker in it, which puts me at about half-way through, hurrah.

Also in this section, up at Vulpes Libris this week is (a) my review of Sara Shepard’s All The Things We Didn’t Say and (b) the Coming Up post for next week – in which the real name of Lord H, together with Lord H’s fabulous new photographic website, is revealed for the first time. Readers paying close attention will of course notice the startling similarity in design to my own website, but hey it could be worse – we could be wearing Howard & Hilda jumpers (scroll down to view …), ho ho. Two of my favourite ever characters, don’t you know.

I’m also incredibly thrilled that the aforementioned husband (who perhaps can now be called Lord K in future …) has also produced his very own Daily Office app for the iphone – so even on the move you need never be far from a church service or an apposite prayer for the day! Never say that as a team my husband and I don’t look after your every need.

Ooh, and I am very happy indeed to see that Amazon UK will now be producing a UK-friendly Kindle, so I have already pre-ordered mine, and it should be delivered at the end of August, well gosh. How long I’ve waited for it indeed – so I hope it lives up to my very high expectations.

Meanwhile, I fear that sales of my e-poetry collection, Sunday Haiku, are regrettably poor – so far only 4 copies have been sold, so I am as yet a little below my best-selling poetry collection, which sold … um … 11 copies. My mission is to match that target by the end of August, so if there are 7 lovely readers out there who might like some nature-focused and really pretty good poetry to inspire their year, please don’t be backward in coming forward – in all honesty, my sad-writer ego can’t take it. Thank you!

And here’s another little haiku to whet your appetite:

Sparkling green water
ripples in the wind’s warm touch,
embraces the dance.

This week’s meditation poems are:

Meditation 401
They knew how to party
back then:

seven days’ worth
of spilled blood,

the dark aroma
from burning meat

and the laughter
of men.

Meditation 402
Behind the prayer,
that sense

of strange connection,
the desert

of abandonment
stretches far away.

Life news:

I’m very happy to tell you that my old University friend, Jane, is currently captaining the Great Britain Rifle Team in Canada, and you can find out how Great Britain is doing on their blog. Go, Jane, go! And huge good luck to all. Mind you, the one time I’ve been lucky enough to see Jane shoot in a national competition, she spent the first 20 minutes of her alloted 30 minutes doing absolutely nothing at all except checking wind speeds and directions and seeing what her competitors were up to, and then took up her rifle and fired all her shots almost perfectly in the space of about 3 minutes. I did wonder why none of her team members bothered turning up to support her until the last 10 minutes – apparently, that is the Jane Messer way, and very good it is too.

This week, I’ve also popped up to London to see Jane W (another Jane!) and had a fabulous time putting the world to rights and talking houses and what to do with them. Must be my age, you know, and our current house-buying efforts, of course. I’ve also played some rather appalling golf, which coincided with some incredibly good golf from Marian, who won by miles, and very deservedly. Perhaps I should take a cricket bat next time? I might well do better …

Yesterday, Lord K (ha!) and I were at Glyndebourne to see Don Giovanni. Verdict: very disappointing and surprising poorly staged, although some individual performances, such as the man-servant and the bride, were very good indeed. However the big excitement was that we sat in the same row as antiques expert, Tim Wonnacott, who was extremely pleasant indeed when attempting to squeeze past me. And hey, I was good! – I didn’t giggle or scream: ooh look, it’s that man off The Antiques Roadshow on TV – so Lord K is very proud. I am indeed a prime example of modern dignity, well for an Essex Girl anyway.

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker’s Journal

Haikus, houses and Holmes

Book News:

I’m happy to say that my latest poetry collection, Sunday Haiku, has already received two 4-star reviews at Goodreads, one from Kim and one from Lisa, who says amongst other comments that she “felt captured within the calm of the poetry” which is precisely the feeling I was trying to attain. Thank you very much, both. And you can now also find Sunday Haiku on sale in PDF version at Rainbow Ebooks, so I hope that covers all buying possibilities. Enjoy!

In addition, I’m getting towards writing the final few scenes of The Prayer Seeker’s Journal, where you can now find the latest episode. There’s a time lag between writing them and actually uploading them, but I hope to finish the first draft by the autumn or thereabouts, though I suspect the last few chapters will be fairly long.

Other books news includes the following: Creative Accountancy for Beginners found itself in the Smashwords Top 10 Humour Bestsellers list, which has been a lovely boost; Painting from Life gained a 4-star review at Goodreads; and The Bones of Summer also had a 4-star Goodreads review – many thanks, Nene, for reading! Meanwhile The Delaneys and Me, continues its rise and fall through the Amazon Kindle Gay Fiction charts, rising as high as No 32 this week.

Recent meditations are:

Meditation 396
No matter
how many lists you make –

table, lampstand,
flowers, cups, bowls

and all the paraphernalia
of fire and hope –

you cannot keep God
contained by your

limitation.

Meditation 397
A cloudy day
and a simple ritual,

wood and stone
and silent angels,

but when the light
arrives, it dazzles you

to the eternal changeability
of prayer.

Meditation 398
The slow history
of stone

wraps you round
in memory

and truth,
helps you

pray again.

And here’s a poem I’ve also written this week:

East

These eastern winds
are an icy layer
leaving you
and me

too close
for comfort

and too far away
to see.

This week’s haiku:

Two blue bicycles
energise the road, piercing
the day’s warm silence.

Life News:

The very big news this week which is both exciting and terrifying is that we and our deceased neighbour’s nephews have agreed on a price for his old flat (below ours) – it’s at the upper limit of our budget but we think that with a bit of scraping around and with the wind in the right direction we can do it, hurrah! So we’re now plunged into the process of conveyancing and soliciting (as it were) and mortgaging, and we hope to have contracts exchanged – all things being equal – by the end of August. I hope it all goes to plan, as it would be great to have more space, not to mention a part of the house garden and a garage. And two floors, well gosh. Whatever next? We won’t be able to eat or go on holiday for the next five years, but what the heck, eh. Who needs food or aeroplanes? We do so love the house, which has got an NVQ Level 5 in Character, though those old Victorian pipes can be a tad dodgy (don’t ask, but never ever put anything at all if you can possibly help it down the loo in a Victorian house – a piece of Life Advice you can have for free …!), so it would be lovely to have more of it. So watch this space, and wish us luck.

Marian and I had a good round of golf on Friday, though we can tell that the schools are ready to break up, as it took a lot longer to go round. I started off with two pretty damn glorious pars (hurrah!) but rapidly faded, so only just managed to scrape victory from the certain jaws of defeat. Yesterday, I was briefly (on a Saturday, how dreadful!) back at work to help out in the afternoon at the University’s open day – which I must say was the busiest I’ve ever known, so I did a heck of a lot of smiling, and was utterly shattered when I got home. So much so that I nearly fell asleep in front of our recorded episode of Midsomer Murders and had to go to bed at 9.30pm, which is really unheard of.

I’m still tired today as well, but this might have been a good thing as they sprang a cunning double christening at church on us today, so there was a lot of water and gurgling, not all of which was me. I’m not a great fan of christenings to be honest – too child-centred for my tastes, but I did a lot of smiling and trying to look normal, so I think people were fooled. Mind you, the family had dressed up to the nines, which was nice to see, and all looked very glam. We’re not used to that in the Sunday crowd …

Ooh, and tonight I and Lord H are hugely looking forward to the new updated version of Sherlock Holmes, which I’m sure will be well worth catching – 9pm on BBC. Don’t miss it! Must dash and get my violin and deerstalker hat ready, if only for old times’ sake.

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker’s Journal

Creative Accountancy for Beginners

Book News:

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:

Meditation 388
Friendship
is a river

flowing silently
between people

and bearing
on its bright back

the things that are needed:
cedar, pine, wheat.

Meditation 389
The mercies of God
are so deep

and immeasurable
that no measures

are enough
to contain them.

Meditation 390
Everything leads
to the centre:

this slow, hard journey
to God

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

the arrival
at the heart of it all:

a room protected
by angels

and a quiet realisation
of God.

Life News:

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!

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker’s Journal