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The collected opinions of an august and aristocratic personage who, despite her body having succumbed to the ravages of time, yet retains the keen intellect, mordant wit and utter want of tact for which she was so universally lauded in her younger days. Being of a generation unequal to the mysterious demands of the computing device, Lady Bracknell relies on the good offices of her Editor for assistance with the technological aspects of her journal.

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Location: Bracknell Towers

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Blankety Blank chequebook and pen

The arrival of divers cheque books, debit cards &c by this morning's post has reminded Lady Bracknell of the curious fact she had intended to relay to her readers last week, but which had slipped her mind in the interim.

(Readers who have concluded that Lady Bracknell's life is probably filled to the brim with many and various entertainments and divertissements, and that, this being so, her forgetfulness is understandable, would be sadly mistaken. Lady Bracknell lives very quietly. That her memory is not what it was in her youth she must attribute either to her advancing years, or to the pharmacopeia of medicaments she is instructed to take on a daily basis.)

To return to the matter at hand, the editor reported to Lady Bracknell last Thursday that, finding herself in the vicinity of a branch of her own bank during banking hours, she resolved to take the opportunity of requesting that her recent honour be reflected in her account details. The editor went on:

"The twelve year old boy behind the counter told me I needed to speak to a personal banker. I sat myself down in one of those waiting areas where the chairs look comfy, but you don't realise until you've sat down in them that it will probably take an industrial winch to lever you back into an upright position. Worries about how I was ever going to stand up again aside, it suddenly occurred to me that I had nothing with me to back up my claim to being an MBE, and that I was therefore a) wasting my time and b) about to be thrown out of the bank for making ridiculous claims to an honour I was clearly far too unprepossessing to ever have been awarded."

There was more in a similar vein but, as the editor does have a tendency to go on, Lady Bracknell will précis. In short, no proof of the editor's elevated status was requested at any point.

Never slow to find something at which to take umbrage, Lady Bracknell is frankly appalled that any Tom, Dick or Harry* can waltz into his bank and demand that his personal details be updated to manifest a rank of his choice without ever being asked to demonstrate that he has a genuine entitlement to the honorific in question.

Indeed, upon being appraised of the story this very afternoon, both Dude the chauffeur and the osteopathic gentleman stated their immediate intention to head to their own banks and insist on the production of new chequebooks reflecting their wholly fictitious knighthoods. And, quite frankly, in these days when peers of the realm dress as eccentrically as, for example, does Lord Bath, a bank employee could be forgiven for assuming that the Dude is an aristocrat experiencing a singularly bad hair day.

*Lady Bracknell is reminded of an anecdote she heard when a blue-stocking. Her ladyship's alma mater was a women's college in a mixed university. On their first day in attendance, the young freshers were herded into the Junior Common Room and addressed by the college principal who, not surprisingly, was a spinster of advanced years.

It is all a very long time ago, and the finer details are lost in the mists of time, but Lady Bracknell recalls being urged to eschew writing paper decorated with girlish images such as lambs or teddy bears, as a plain bond would be more fitting for the young ladies of the college. The gels were also advised, "If you don't want a sherry, say, "No, I'll have a fruit juice"." Similarly, if one did not want to keep company with "any Tom, Dick or Harry", one was encouraged to reject their oafish advances firmly.

Rumour hath it, then, that one such innocent young gel was approached at a freshers' ball, or some such, by a second year undergraduate lothario. Gambling (correctly, as it turned out) that the spinster principal's speech would not vary greatly from one year's intake to the next, his opening conversation salvo consisted of the immortal line:

"Hello. My name's not Tom, Dick or Harry. How about it?"


Blogger Atyllah said...

I wonder if Lady B's bank would be good enough to allow a chicken a title. Baroness Atyllah - it has a certain ring, don't you think?
One does have to question the state of the banking world - a chaffeur with a title. Tsk! No wonder you have taken umbrage.

8:51 am  
Blogger Robert Robus said...

I, Robert Robus, opine that that anecdote is priceless. (I, Robert Robus, also take great pleasure in your use of the term 'lothario'-- but that's another matter.)

6:20 pm  
Blogger The Goldfish said...

This story sparked a lengthy discussion between the Goldfish and her gentleman friend about when it is and isn't legal to use a false name, title or honours.

As I understand it, it is perfectly legal to use any name, title or honours one chooses under circumstances where nobody may suffer by being mislead. The only thing the bank may be concerned about as far as a current account is concerned is proof of an association between a given name and a given address.

However, we are not entirely sure about this so next week we are going to conduct an experiment; the Goldfish is going to attempt to open a joint bank account under the names Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (she will turn up on two separate occassions to sign the paperwork of course) and her gentleman friend is going to open a single bank account under the name Reverend Arnold Bumlick - which, he revealed, has been a lifelong ambition.

7:07 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Lady Bracknell is pleased to have unwittingly provided a source of amusing plans to the indomitable Goldfish and her gentleman friend.

She seems to recall, however, that a professional acquaintance once complained to her that his wife was unable to open an account in her own name because she could provide neither a driving licence nor a passport as proof of identity.

8:29 pm  
Anonymous Dude said...

"a bank employee could be forgiven for assuming that the Dude is an aristocrat experiencing a singularly bad hair day."

Quite so ma'am. Indeed I have spent many long and happy afternoons in Mr Al Fayed's Kensington Grocery Emporium tinkling on the pianofortes whilst the ever-attentive staff laboured under the same misapprehension.

Sir B Dude (DSO and bar)

11:36 pm  
Blogger The Goldfish said...

In case it is of use or interest to those like The Goldfish who possess neither a passport nor a driver's licence, authorities are usually satisfied with an NHS card, even if they don't list this on their paperwork.

The Goldfish has however only had to produce this once and only in a very formal and official context - she has merrily opened bank accounts galore (well, one or two) using only utility bills and the like.

2:54 pm  
Blogger Charlesdawson said...

I think it all depends what the Goldfish means by "misled". The ineffable Basil Fawlty's experience with Lord Whatwasit? springs to mind. There is no doubt in my mind that, in the UK, possession of a title means better service all round; tables become available in restaurants and seats in theatres. People value titles of all kinds; look at Dr Paul McKenna. And as for the fiercely republican and egalitarian Americans....faced with a title many become positively feudal.

4:38 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope you will pardon my intrusion. Speaking as an American lady of both a republican and egalitarian persuasion, I have to confess that I suffered a minor flutter upon hearing the news that my husband-- who hails from Peterborough-- might just possibly be a distant decendant of William Wallace. As such I suppose I must concede to the opinion of Mr. Dawson regarding my likely reaction when confronted with a title.

Of course, we have since discovered that my husband is not, in fact, a decendant of Wallace at all. I now treat him with far less dignity.

(A delightful journal, this. I am pleased to have found it.)

7:17 pm  
Blogger Life of a Banana said...

Me Lady, are you a man in drag?

7:31 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Mr Banana,

Although Lady Bracknell's editor has been described by one of her more effete friends as being "a gay man in a woman's body", Lady Bracknell herself is undoubtedly all woman.

9:51 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Having dealt with the importunate banana gentleman's somewhat bizarre enquiry, Lady Bracknell would like to welcome Jess to her perorations.

9:53 pm  
Blogger BloggingMone said...

For those who would like to be addressed with a title at least once in a lifetime, I can only reommend a visit to an Austrian coffee house, preferably in Vienna. As a matter of courtesy the staff there is requested to address everyone with whatever title they can come up with - and Austria is still having many of them. Everyone is at least "honourable" or "Doctor". Even if only the husband has achieved some kind of academic decoration such as a doctors degree, his wife will automatically be addressed as "Mrs. Dr. so-and-so." Knowing about her Ladyship being an MBE, would certainly brighten the waiters' day.

9:42 am  
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10:10 am  

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