Saturday, 15 March 2008

Friday 29th Feb 2008

It's a leap year, it's leap day and that's an excuse for silly things to happen. I Spent the majority of the morning trying to get one of my three banks to let me have access to my cash. Believe me this is not an easy task. (Strange how you can easily get access to *their* cash but not your own!). Fortunately the Kiwi's Nest staff bailed me out, lent me some money for a phone card and then a fellow lodger lent me her phonecard to chase up the banks. So here goes (skip this part if you're not ino bank ranting, read on if you are): Now bearing in mind I've told all my banks I'm going on holiday ...

Nationwide Flex Account - turns out I've spent all my funds despite the ATM telling me I have over $2000NZ available to me. I purposefully don't have an overdraft facility on this account and so if it says I've got 2k in there, then it must be mine right? Wrong! After several calls from NZ to the UK I'm told that actually I've gone overdrawn and will be charged for the priviledge. Ho hum, I put another 1k pounds in there a few days ago, that must not have materialsed thanks to the four day 'clearing' process - a phantom way of garnering the little people's money if ever there was one (the Sub Prime lending fiasco taught us al that the banks balance their books at the end of each day right and the problems started when they couldn't do this because they wouldn''t lend to each other at normal rates, so why can't they balance *our* books, we are their customers. Come on folks, let's not tolerate this slackness, four days, that's longer than a Geoff Boycott innings that is. So nothing Nationwide can do for me except advise me to keep an eye on my balance and remember how much I had in upto five days ago and do the maths converting from NZ dollars to pounds to figure ot how much (or little) was really in my account. Rubbish. Did you hear about the Tottenham player who couldn't get a work permit for the Premiership? Yeah, some Mexican by the name of Mineeda Visa. The emergency phone numbers I have for Cahoot and Barclaycard are for lost cards only, as my cards aren't lost they couldn't help me an didn't know which numbers I should ring to get my accounts unlocked (I'm assuming they two banks have put fraud-prevention stop notices on my accounts). An hour of international calls and no joy. It took a call to the NZ Visa department to get hold of the *actual* numbers to call. Man, how hard work can it be to get access to my own money?! I got so bored at one point I even phoned home!

Cahoot -
turns out after hours of getting engaged tones that the parent bank Ab bey National can't take off the stop notice on my account. I explain to the lady that I have no money and therefore can't eat or sleep until I get sorted. She apologises but can do no more than give me a UK contact number for the account. She then apologises some more and tells me that it's only open 8am-8pm UK time, so 9pm to 9am Kiwi time - great! That would mean I'd have to go routing through bins for the next 11 hours. Rolloks to Cahoot - I'd already told them I was going abroad before I flew and for them not to switch my account off. Grrr!

Barclaycard - thank the Lord for outsourcing I say! Depsite losing my job to code monkeys in India, the Barclaycard call centre was open and the chappy on the end of the phone informed me after a quick chat with his manager that my account was unfrozen. Get in! I legged it down to the Uni cash machine and withdrew some cash immediately before anything else could happen. It was such a liberating feeling.

Musings On Materialism Although I'd only been without money for 12 hours or so the spectre of not having any at all was actually quite scary. I had to rely completely on the generosity and understanding of others. Fortunately the locals helped me out, especially Joy who was a student herself. I guess you only really find out who the good people are when you have nothing and people still take an interest/help you out. I was very grateful to those that helped me and it provided a humbling lesson to me. Money isn't everything, I already know this, but the reliance on it in modern society is massive, without it you are pretty much stuffed. Oh the pressure! I guess money is like fresh air, it's only important when you're not getting any.

The University Oval
As luck would have it my lodgings were a ten minute stroll through the UoO campus to the University Oval where England where taking on and getting beaten by a scratch NZ side at cricket in a three day warm up match. Joy and I turned up at the ground wondering if any cricket would be on, it was slightly spitting. For $10 we gained access and could see that the stands were virtually empty, maybe 100 people there. The players' transparent changing rooms are right infront of the main stand, I couldn't believe it as both teams were idling in and out of the changing rooms like it was a Sunday village game at White Coppice. Having been present on the last day at Edgbaston in 2005 to witness a memorable victory over the Aussies (yeah, remember that Nath!, Ant, try and forget it!), one of say 18,000 faces, having been to Headingley to see England with Wardy and the Leeds Massiv countless times - again just one face amongst thousands on the rowdy Western Terrace, ditto in the Caribbean at the Kensington Oval, and likewise at Lords many times, it was a surreal moment to be stood right next to Michael Vaughan (My Lord), KP, Straussy, The Sherminator et al. The Oval was a really intimate little ground, I have to admit I was like a little boy who'd just been given his first scalextric, I couldn't stop grinning. I was a little bit star struck too and couldn't get my words out. Oh to be a cocksure Aussie right now! Luckily Joy didn't know who any of the players were except for Freddie and he wasn't here. She struck up conversation with Tim Ambrose and we just chatted amicably about the tour. He hadn't been home for ages having toured in India with England A before getting his call up to the ODI/Test squad. He said India was full of sights not easy on the eye (poverty etc.) and that touring was OK if you liked hotels and cricket grounds. Not all it's cracked up to be. The players can't go out and take risks like you and I, it really is work, albeit not quite a boring office job. Tim didn't fancy warming up for the afternoon session and just chatted away to us, meanwhile KP rather moodily practised smacking Andy Flowers' warm up throws into the advertising hordings. Alistair Cooke lost the keepy-uppey challenge and had to bend over infront of the sight screens whilst the rest of the team pelted the football at his derierre , twas all good stuff. Even Captain Colly took his turn and got a couple of stingers. It was just like being back at Worden High! The cricket finished for the day with England in a healthier position, KP getting bored with the whole warm-up concept and disdainfully smacked his way from 30 to 50 in about 4 deliveries before holing out - brav(ad)o!. We walked back to The Nest and headed out into town. We ate at a Japenese seafood type place on Bath Street (note to self: avoid seaweed in future, it tastes like vinegary rotten fish), just of the main square, which is actually Octagonal and named 'The Octagon' funnily enough. I shouted the food as a little thank-you to Joy for helping me out this morning. What a star. We then headed onto The Octagon looking for some action, we skipped the ubiquitous Irish Bar and headed into 'Alibi', I had to have a double take as there leaning out of the window were Colly and Michael Vaughan My Lord with their other halves, marvelous. Two beers please! Blocking my way to the bar where a couple of big units who I mistakenly took for an ex-rugby second-rower 'Shane' and his even bigger and somehow more unkempt brother 'Lurch'. As is turns out it was Super Gus Fraser (he's sharp as a razor ...) and Derek Pringle. Happy Days! Fortunately for us cricket hasn't got a massive following in NZ, everything takes a backseat to rugby, thus the England cricket team, usually mobbed by either the English or maybe crazed sub-continent fans were able to mill around unobstructed by wallies. As for me, I was just chuffed to bits to be there. Silly really I know, but some of these players have been my hero's over the last ten years.

No comments: