Day to day musings of a cat minder/ sitter in North Tyneside and Newcastle upon Tyne . For details of services go to

Welcome to CatMinders

Welcome to CatMinders

Friday, 11 February 2011


I’ve banked with NatWest for longer than I care to remember and I went in to see them in Thursday ( yesterday) and put my foot down . It has paid off .

Today I am prince(ss)ly sum of twenty eight pounds ( or thereabouts) per month better off as a result . Not to be sneezed at in these straitened times.

As I thanked the very helpful young woman who advised and guided me through various processes yesterday , and trotted down the stairs , looking slightly askance at the cracked and shabby linoleum flooring along the back passages leading from the Customer Services area in the bowels of the real bank ( I’m one of those wimps who gets to see the slightly seedier areas being wary of tiny service lifts) I thought about my Grandad and his many visits to his Bank in Hexham all those years ago.

My Grandad drove an Austin Allegro for many years , a lovely shiny gold coloured car smelling of leather and new stuff when he bought it . Oddly enough I was never travel sick in his car though always very ill in our family car. Thinking about it now I’m transported back in an instant across the years to primary school . Friday afternoons. The spelling test . Those of us who had achieved twenty correct spellings every day for the full week were allowed to leave school half an hour early. The excitement of an early escape and knowing my Grandma and Grandad were coming for me to take me to the farm for the weekend- I could hardly contain myself .

Now though , in the seventies , he had had to give up driving, having had a few “episodes” and having landed himself in a ditch had reached a decision that the bus to Hexham would suffice for his needs. At least weekly he would set out , smartly dressed and come back with his “shopping” . The thing I remember him coming back with was “distemper”- his name for emulsion paint . Occasionally he would slip up and buy eggshell or even full gloss and paint that on nevertheless – all over the bathroom walls. It was never clear whether it was intentional or he didn’t want to admit a mistake.

His weekly trips to Hexham sometimes increased in frequency to twice or thrice a week . It was never very clear why he was going . On one memorable occasion he locked Grandma in their tiny greenhouse before his departure and she was forced to sit on an upturned bucked until his return later in the day. How she managed for food, a drink , and other matters which she would never have acknowledged in polite company , I have no idea .

After his death , and when we were going through a file of papers , we found a neat pile of letters from the bank . Almost identical , typed , they all seemed to come from the same person , some bank person whom Grandad had latched onto . All in all there must have been twenty or thirty such letters.

Dear Mr B

(they read)

It was good to see you again today . I am writing to clarify once again the position as regards your investments and to reassure you that you really have no need to worry about a thing. Everything is quite in order . There is no need for you to do anything . We will ensure that if anything needs to be done or any papers need to be signed we will contact you .

It is always good to see you when you call at the bank but there really is no need for you to call in every few days.

Everything is in hand .

With our best intentions

Yours faithfully

Blah blah .

I myself have insisted that I no longer need the “Advantage Gold Account” as I wasn’t taking up all the lovely free services on offer. When the young woman asked me why not I explained that I really couldn’t imagine managing the palaver of registering my mobile phone at a call centre for insurance purposes when I don’t even know its make and model number. The young woman kindly offered to do it for me . However for the moment I’m sticking to my guns and reverting to free banking – the sort that worked perfectly well for me when I was a student and first joined the bank when I was eighteen. We’ve agreed that if I don’t like it I can go back to Advantage Gold and she will register my phone for me and make sure I get all my free services.

She also suggested I ring my house insurance company and put my foot down there – which I did today – and negotiate a reduction in my monthly premiums. So I’ve done that.
It wasnt difficult . Just a matter of explaining I was paying too much and as a loyal customer I didnt want to pay that much any longer. They readily agreed a cut . Smples - as my sister would say.

I like this putting my foot down lark .

What’s not to like?

So long as I don’t have a hundred letters from the bank lurking in a little file somewhere when I am no more …..

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