Dirty washing aired for your pleasure, compliments of Pants
The only time I'm ever right about anything is when I predict disaster, then I'm infallible. What is that about do you suppose?
A really awful thing happened. I was staying with my oldest, dearest friend who you will know as Mr T. Now, Mr T and I have never once fallen out, which is why he's my oldest and dearest friend. You can't fall out with Mr T because he never listens to you for long enough to be offended by anything you say. Made in heaven really. And he has the gentlest, most easygoing nature. I say again, something awful, and most unexpected happened.
You will know I was stressed beyond anything even vaguely akin to my past experience. You will also know that I am not the neatest person on the planet, or even the most considerate. However, I am generally speaking a good house guest because I tend to overcompensate for my bad habits when I'm imposing on someone's hospitality. I also cover my lack of ability to whip up a delicious kedgeree from a squishy tomato, half a tin of dried out sardines and four grains of rice with frequent trips to Oddbins.
It is true that I annexed Mr T's living room for the best part of a week for the purpose of moving various daft items from one pile to another like the mad overseer on some demented scheme for full employment. This tended to render the term 'living room' more or less redundant. It was clear to me that this was pissing him off somewhat but it wasn't going to be for very long and I couldn't do anything about it. It was hardly my fault that issues I wound up one day would magically unwind themselves overnight and force me to deal with them all over again, vastly diminishing the time allocated to say, washing up. I did the only thing I know how to do, I bought wine.
The major problem, which had been threatening to turn into a scenario Kafka would have dismissed as implausible all week, finally went the way of Joseph K. The bank foreclosed on my sanity. Admittedly losing the pin numbers for the internet banking and debit card of the account in which I'd installed the proceeds of House of Pants was not particularly clever but can't in itself be considered an endgame in banking terms, surely. It's not like I did a KLF and set fire my cash, after all.
It's an interminable story so I will simply state the bald facts. The Nationwide Bank told me that the only way I could get hold of my money was to withdraw it, personally. I couldn't write to the bank when I was in Australia and ask them to transfer it to another bank. I would literally have to return to England. It seems I'd gone to sleep and woken up in the nineteenth century. I don't know what kind of mental stamina you need to possess to take pronouncements like this in your stride. I do know I don't have it. I got up and walked out without saying anything.
Back at Mr T's I screamed, cried and yelled 'fucking cunts' rather more than was strictly called for, but not very loudly and in no one else's presence. In the course of my rampage, I did find the pin number to the debit card which meant that I could access my money anywhere in the world. That it would take about two and a half years of withdrawing the maximum amount every day didn't even seem like much of a hardship. It would be difficult to buy a house that way though. I'd have to find a seller who enjoyed my popping around every afternoon.
Then I had a moment of inspiration of the type only true desperation can produce. I called the Commonwealth Bank in London and explained my predicament. Could they help me? Yes they could. In short, I rushed over to the Commonwealth, opened a special account for people transferring money to Australia and then went back to the Nationwide and they finally gave me my money. It was solved but not without dissipating the time I'd allocated to putting my refuse in a black bag and washing the dishes.
I was leaving for India in the morning. Mr T was leaving for Havana in the morning. Mr T came back from work and the flat was a mess and I had not quite finalised the 'thank you for having me' arrangements. I tried to tell him I'd spent half the day trying to get my money from the bank and the other half waiting in the queue at the post office to mail all my bank statements by Datapost. Mr T showed little interest in my trials and instead retired to his room where he commenced to bang and clatter quite loudly. I've packed for Havana and I know that's not how it's done so I kind of guessed something was a bit wrong. A friend of his came over and they went for a drink. I panicked.
I didn't have enough left in me to think it through, much less deal with what was occurring so I packed my bag and left for the airport. At the time, it seemed like the perfect solution. If I'd stayed, it would have either meant a heart-to-heart of some sort or a frosty evening. I'd not the emotional strength to endure either. Leaving straight away would solve that and have the added bonus of relieving me of the worry of not getting to the airport in time, something that always bothers me if I have an early flight. But it also meant I wouldn't get to say goodbye and I'd probably make Mr T feel bad. It was the most Hobson of choices.
The night spent sleeping in Terminal 2 at Heathrow on broken chairs was very Viktor Navorski but it was no more or less then I deserved. As penances go, it was tolerable. And now I've arrived in Kerala where I have other things to worry about, like getting run down by auto-rickshaws - who ever thought that was a good idea? Yesterday, I spent the afternoon swimming and sunning myself on Chennai Beach and the horrors of the last couple of weeks dissolved. Mr T will be sipping mojitos. It will all get sorted out. Mr T, if you're reading this, I'm sorry - oh and Barney says hi and he's sorry too. He hadn't realised you had plans for that smoked salmon and did you know that you can use tofu instead? He does however accept that there is no substitute for vodka straight from the freezer. He plans to make a public apology to you on Oprah which will be screened on ITV4 on April 14th.