Counters of Hope

My local Barclays bank has five counters for staff to sit behind and deal with the ever growing queue of people. For at least two to three years now, there has never been more than two people behind these counters at any time. Essentially there are three counters of wasted hope. I queued up for the second time this week, in a queue that stretched back to the very front of the building, just to deposit a cheque. Today the journey to make such a payment took about 30 minutes, yesterday it took 45, all the while I was looking at these vacant windows praying that someone else would arrive to help speed things up. The two staff that were there looked aggravated that so many people were waiting, and some, including the man in the bright orange Network Rail jacket infront of me, were vocally expressing through the means of shouting, such phrases as ‘its the worst bank in the country this!’ and such gems as ‘I’ll remember to pack my lunch next time’. The two tellers would occasionally sigh, with one, after a further repeat of being told just where they were on the scale of the nationwide banks rating system, she shouted back ‘no we’re not’, but never provided proof of where else had possibly taken the title off them. I only assume somewhere out there is a bank with no tellers but 12 windows so, like a poor man’s Beckett script, the queue never gets any shorter. Despite the man’s vocal efforts, when he finally reached the till, he merely politely paid some money in and left, as though he realised there was no point in shouting at the two people that were actually working there. Either that or he had lost all energy. The woman at my till was very rude, barking ‘can I help?’ followed by me meekly handing over my cheque and then for her to respond with a sigh then ‘anything else?’. When I shook my head, she muttered ‘good’ under her breath. I kept quiet, paid my money in and mourned the loss of another period of time that I will never get back. I was tempted to write a letter saying that they should reduce my account interest rates as they have not only taken my money, but large portions of my life as well.

There are a lot of things that could be done here. Several of them would be the sensible options whereby a bank that can happily pay £2.2billion of bonuses to its staff, instead use some of that money to treat its clients well and provide more staff for a better service. This of course would be silly. Why on earth would Barclays want to treat us, the people it gets its £2.2 billion from by charging us from every possible angle? So instead I propose the other option. Just get rid of the other three counters. If we know there is only two counters, no one will huff and puff. We can blame the long queues on a design flaw. Perhaps the former counters could instead have calming pictures or even just some of the heads of Barclays sticking two fingers up at every one that comes in. Sure it’d make us angry, but it would echo their sentiment perfectly and knowing there would be nothing we can do about it would cause even less dissent in an odd sort of way. We are an apathetic society that stands up to this sort of shit, so why give us any saving grace at all? By taking away those empty tills, replacing them with offensive, aggressive messages such as ‘shit off you queueing bastards’, we will just give up all together and stand there in depressed silence, queuing our life away.

Gigged in Cardiff last night to Medical Students at the Unversity Hospital. It was a private gig just for them and while they had little gig etiquette (talking through the acts etc) all the students were lovely and it ended up fairly fun. What was odd was that when we arrived the excitable 19-20 year olds were all clad in fluorescent outfits to celebrate finishing their anatomy exams. These exams entailed identifying bits of people’s bodies that had been removed, an exam that I can’t imagine has much use in a real doctors work. Surely most bits of bodies would be attached to the bodies themselves so you’d know where they are? Unless this is preparing them for a high spate of accidents with combine harvesters or mincing machines in a few years time? What do the examining board know that we don’t? Anyway, so pink tutu and bright-yellow-top clad students surrounded the bar whilst myself and Tom Craine sat there both having the same thought of ‘oh dear’. We discussed on the way home just how bloody miserable that is. When I was at uni, dressing up and getting drunk was immense fun. It’d be something we looked forward to and would regret with a vicious hangover for 24 hours afterwards. Yet now, just seeing it makes us grumble. When did this change happen? Why couldn’t we appreciate that they were young and happy? Then I remembered that our Barclays bank on my campus had all 5 windows with staff behind them. That’ll be it.