Harry and Cressida, Halifax BS, Nicky Clegg, and Gorgeous George

Hello Fans!

I’m back a little sooner this time. You may recall my last blog was delayed for 3 weeks by Grandad’s pathetic attempts to post a new blog. He assures me everything will be better now he’s had a brain transplant. At least he’s responded promptly to my request for a new funkier font.

He went away for a short holiday and has been catching up with interesting items from old newspapers. Two from the Daily Mirror particularly caught his eye: one was about Prince Harry’s desire to marry some ‘Aussie totty’ as he put it – Cressida Bonas. ‘I hope they’ll be very happy’, said Grandad (Mummy looked suspicious – I think she sensed one of Grandad’s ‘jokes’ coming). ‘Now we’ve finished our mentoring stint with Kate and Georgie Porgy* perhaps we’ll get asked to Harry’s reception. I expect they’ll have egg and Cressida sandwiches’.

Mummy groaned and threw a cushion at him, and Daddy grimaced. I thought it was one of Grandad’s better jokes. Mind you, he shouldn’t have added, ‘If Cressie gets him to go and live in Australia it will be a “bonas” – especially when he added, ‘do you want me to go on for ‘bonas’ points!

The other story in the Mirror was even better. When a young couple rang their Halifax bank to correct an error on a savings account they’d set up for their 6-month-old son, Harry (not relation) they were told that this could only be discussed with ‘the account holder’. Naturally, the couple thought the Halifax official was joking. Jenny, the wife, said, ‘He’s a baby, he can’t talk’. The bank official (he sounded bonkers to me) repeated he couldn’t talk to Jenny over the phone, only the account holder! Sounds reasonable – I can just hear him saying ‘Ga, ga, ga, wibble wobble wussy, is banky interest on issums account nicey-wicey?’ And Harry responding appropriately with ‘sod off, you big plonker’.

When we told Daddy, he said this was unbelievable. ‘No it’s not,’ maintained Grandad. ‘I got a buildings insurance quote on the house from Halifax the other day. It was £418. On the same day, another company rang and quoted me £270. Well, Halifax were very good when we had a large subsidence claim in 1982, but that’s a big difference. So I rang Halifax to see if they’d reduce their quote and they put me through to Dave in Retentions. He said to update their records could I answer some questions. 1st question: when was the house built? But this must be on your data- base, I said’. [Grandad loves impressing people with technical terms like ‘data-base’]

‘Next question was: what type of house, how many bedrooms etc, etc? I kept saying surely this is on your data base? “Simply a procedural formality,” he replied, “to see if there’ve been any changes to the house” (there hadn’t). Then he said as a result of updating their records, my insurance had gone up to £506! And that they’d been under-charging me all these years! In total, I spoke to 8 Halifax employees over 2 days – including 3 Managers. Most of them didn’t know their arses from their elbows. Oops, sorry, Sophie. [I tactfully pretended I hadn’t heard]. The next day the quote was back to £418 and they offered me £75 in compensation. I took the compensation and accepted the £270 rival quote. So can I believe wanting to chat with a 6-month-old baby? OH YES!’

I know Grandad was telling the truth ‘cos I heard him on the telephone. His blood pressure was going through the roof as he threatened them not only with ‘Which’ (he’s a member of course), but also consumer guardians on the Times, Sunday Times and the Guardian – and the Ombudsman. It turns out when Halifax merged with Lloyd’s Bank in 2001, they’d lost all their records in a computer melt-down, so they’d been insuring Grandad for the last 12 years knowing nothing about the house he lived in.

Grandad said that nice, cuddley, Nicky Clegg had showed a bit of backbone (just a little bit) in challenging Big Dave over his Free Schools plan. Apparently BD had said they didn’t need to follow the National Curriculum, employ qualified teachers, or stick to any school meals policy. I agree with Grandad about school meals. Though Jamie’s mockney speech irritates Grandad beyone measure – ‘bloody “Mothership” main dish, he growled. ‘Why is it always “whop” it in the oven and “pukka”?’ (I just feel he sounds common and lower class – though I suppose it’s good to be reminded of how quaint and silly common people can sound.

On the other hand, being a foodie, Grandad admires what Jamie did to raise the standards of aschool meals, and provide economical meals for hard-up people – and, in his latest series, show how we can avoid throwing away so much food. ‘That man should be revered’, he said. ‘He stands alongside Saint Delia. The twin Deities of the culinary world.’ He paused, wiped away a tear. He’s a very emotional man is Grandad. Inside that stony exterior, there beats a heart of gold – well, at least, where food is concerned. Bless!

Of course, he’s wrong about qualified teachers. My friend Petronella goes to a Free School and she says their games teacher is SOOO dishy! She says he works part-time in Stringfellows as a bouncer and when she sees him in their local Costa, he’s always got a fag hanging out of the corner of his mouth. Of course, he can’t teach for toffee but who cares? The girls just stand around and drool over his manly torso and gorgeous legs! Her science teacher, Petronella discovered, was a former inmate of HM prisons – he’d been part of a gang of bank robbers. He was the one who blew bank safes and Petronella says his experiments were a real hoot: they blow things up a lot while he entertains them with Michael Caine jokes from the ‘Italian Job’.

‘Surely to God they have to go through CRB tests,’ yelled Grandad when I told him.

Big news today, Georgeous George (as we’ve now got to call him – hmmm, perhaps he will be when he stops producing all those stinky nappies I had to deal with) has had his godparents named. Godfather – it’s a funny name, isn’t it? When I mentioned it to Grandad, he put these wads of cotton wool inside his mouth and started speaking in a funny voice. Like an American gangster. I can’t think why.

Grandad said he was very, very disappointed in the Daily Mail. Why? Because they’d only devoted 15 pages to news of Georgeous George, he said. It was disgraceful. I think maybe Grandad was being…. sarcastic?

I was pleased Mrs Mike Tyndall (Zara to you and me) was a godparent. Grandad agreed. She’ll be able to tell wee George how to pick up blondes in New Zealand bars, he said. Now what on earth did he mean by that? Grandad’s move and think in mysterious ways.

That’s all, folks! Speak soon,

Your loveable Sophie

PS Sebastian’s fed up. Why can’t your readers hear from me, he moans. Frankly, dear reader, I hear too much from Sebastian already – but perhaps he has a point.
Next time, I promised. As long as he gives me all his pocket money. I’m very fond of him really.


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