Monthly Archives: January 2016

The technology wars: human 100% , bank 0%…

Continuing my theme of cheering up my readers during the slow, grim grind of January, I thought I’d share this hilarious letter, sent to me this morning by my supervisor to help cheer ME up. It did the trick! I think we should all model ourselves, as we grow older in an increasingly technology-dominated society, on this kind of  feistiness in response to the slings and arrows of  engaging with contemporary institutions. Well done, Mavis!! ( I feel sure her name is Mavis but my psychic powers are, to say the least, unreliable, so don’t quote me…) 

Shown below, is an actual letter that was sent to a bank by an 82-year-old woman. The bank manager thought it amusing enough to have it published in the New York Times. (i)

Angry? Moi?

Angry? Moi?

” Dear Sir:

I am writing to thank you for bouncing my check with which I endeavored to pay my plumber last month. By my calculations, three nanoseconds must have elapsed between his presenting the check and the arrival in my account of the funds needed to honor it.

I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my entire pension, an arrangement which, I admit, has been in place for only eight years.You are to be commended for seizing that brief window of opportunity, and also for debiting my account $30 by way of penalty for the inconvenience caused to your bank.

My thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has caused me to rethink my errant financial ways. I noticed that whereas I personally answer your telephone calls and letters, — when I try to contact you, I am confronted by the impersonal, overcharging, pre-recorded, faceless entity which your bank has become.

From now on, I, like you, choose only to deal with a flesh-and-blood person.

My mortgage and loan repayments will therefore and hereafter no longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank, by check, addressed personally and confidentially to an employee at your bank whom you must nominate.

Be aware that it is an OFFENSE under the Postal Act for any other person to open such an envelope.

Please find attached an Application Contact which I require your chosen employee to complete.

I am sorry it runs to eight pages, but in order that I know as much about him or her as your bank knows about me, there is no alternative.

Please note that all copies of his or her medical history must be countersigned by a Notary Public, and the mandatory details of his/her financial situation (income, debts, assets, and liabilities) must be accompanied by documented proof.

In due course, at MY convenience, I will issue your employee with a PIN number which he/she must quote in dealings with me.

I regret that it cannot be shorter than 28 digits but, again, I have modeled it on the number of button presses required of me to access my account balance on your phone bank service.

As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Let me level the playing field even further.

When you call me, press buttons as follows:

#1. To make an appointment to see me.

#2. To query a missing payment.

#3. To transfer the call to my living room in case, I am there.

#4. To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am sleeping.

#5. To transfer the call to my toilet in case, I am attending to nature.

#6. To transfer the call to my mobile phone if I am not at home.

#7. To leave a message on my computer, a password to access my computer is required. The password will be communicated to you at a later date to that Authorized Contact mentioned earlier.

#8. To return to the main menu and to listen to options 1 through 7 again

#9. To make a general complaint or inquiry. The contact will then be put on hold, pending the attention of my automated answering service.

#10. This is a second reminder to press* for English.

While this may, on occasion, involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music will play for the duration of the call.

Regrettably, but again following your example, I must also levy an establishment fee to cover the setting up of this new arrangement.

May I wish you a happy, if ever so slightly less prosperous New Year?

Your Humble Client

And remember: Don’t make old people mad. We don’t like being old in the first place, so it doesn’t take much to piss us off…”



(i) I don’t have the original source for this: I googled and there are several links featuring variations on the letter. So it may be apocryphal, but I detect the ring of truth, don’t you?…

750 words Anne Whitaker 2016
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page


Are you suffering from January-itis? Have some winter magic on me!

I do not recall when I last felt so afflicted by a bout of  the above.

Daily – late afternoon lethargy as the weak North-Western daylight dims. Annoyance with the snowdrops for being so reluctant to appear this year. Stating to The Husband that I was a moany-faced old git, and not having him disagree. Fed up with those admirable space videos with shouty captions telling us how infinitesimally minute we are, therefore entirely without any right whatsoever to moan about anything at all.

Still coughing somewhat, a long six weeks after THE WORST COLD EVER. Totally, utterly bored with wondering what I would make for dinner today… and every other day for decades. Discovering, today, a Facebook file I never knew existed containing messages going back to December 2013. Cross with myself every day for not being more grateful for almost every way in which I am a deeply fortunate person.

And yet – I find myself always able to be responsive to those moments of magic that life weaves into the dreary tapestry of January.

Today, having my first ever Facebook videocall – all the way to India – with my brilliant nephew, a person whose insatiable curiosity about EVERYTHING and  bibliophiliac habits are probably worse than mine. It was just great to hear his fresh, first-hand impressions of that astonishing continent, and reminded me of the bright face of modern technology.

And – last Saturday – being granted the grace of capturing some images of pure winter magic as the snow, just for a day, turned our grubby rain-soaked city into wonderland. Enjoy some of those photos, as we cold and grumpy Northern people gradually turn our faces to the blessing of  Spring. As the poet Shelley so beautifully put it in his great Ode to the West Wind:

“If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”

Kibble Palace, winter twilight

Kibble Palace Glasgow UK: snowy winter twilight

IMG_2797 IMG_2798 (3)

photos: Anne Whitaker 16.1.16

300 words + images copyright Anne Whitaker 2016
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Starting 2016: fancy a spot of techno-meltdown?

No, I know comfort eating DOES NOT HELP.

It is 15.12 uk time. I know I may be sounding like the X-Files. I feel even Mulder and Scully would be tearing their hair out by now at this impenetrable mystery: why does technology, every so often, gang up on one so comprehensively that only two alternatives are feasible, ie stand out on the public highway and have a loud screaming tantrum, or eat an extremely squidgy, delicious Portuguese custard tart?

Being a highly evolved human, I am opting for the latter. For now…

Today, Friday, is my writing day. I look forward to it keenly. It brings peace, reflective space, and not having to talk to anyone all day if I don’t have to. Sometimes, I even manage to write something people want to read. Bliss.

The Writing Cave

The Writing Cave

Bearing the above in mind, consider my day. I arrive at the Writing Cave, eagerly looking forward to writing two blog posts, one featuring a Guest contribution from a writer I very much admire. The other is in response to something I’ve just seen on Facebook – one of those entirely admirable space videos with shouty captions telling us how infinitesimally minute we are, therefore entirely without any right whatsoever to moan about anything at all. I’m already composing a response…

HOWEVER: I cannot get onto my WiFi (EE, just in case anyone else wants to shout at them and ask for a rental refund). Two mobile calls to The Husband establish that where he is, his email works perfectly, thank you very much. I am not consoled. After spending an hour pacing up and down the Writing Cave reading an extremely erudite book about the archetypal significance of the dwarf planeEris, I try EE again. No luck. A quick google via my 4G mobile phone establishes that there has been an EE problem for several days in various parts of the UK. Faint consolation: at least it’s not a problem with my computer.

I form a plan. I’ll pop over to my favourite Friday lunch hangout and lurking place – that wee gem, the Hidden Lane Tearoom. I can use their wifi. So, loading my computer into my backpack, off I go, much cheered in anticipation of lovely people and a tasty lunch.

Oh dear. The lovely Audrey has got her head down in an emptying premises, and is morosely sweeping up. “We’re having to close early. The power is off in quite a few places in the area.”

To say I was less than pleased might just be an understatement. Having sympathised and problem-shared, I head off to my other favourite hangout. Great music, lovely sandwiches, dozens of different coffees and teas to choose from. CC & T. (Go there. Soon.) They are bound to have public wifi.

They don’t. I can now feel mild hysteria beginning to build up. Not a good sign. To quell it, I order a delicious looking toasted cheese and salami sandwich and some Brazilian blend filter coffee. First bite in – and a great spray of tomatoey oil squirts out of the sandwich, globbing over my best purple scarf, jeans, and my favourite grey cashmere cardi. Mine host is most kind, giving me some hot water and a cloth to mop myself up. I leave it to you, dear Reader, to intuit my mood and state of mind at this point…

However, as is often the case, I have found, when up to one’s ears in a crappy day  – a ray of light in the form of kindness penetrates the fast-encroaching gloom. Mine host proffers the shop’s wifi code. Success! I am on line. And – only slightly delayed by a small altercation with the upgraded and supposedly improved WordPress site – I have my inspiration for the day.

By the way – the custard tart was delicious!



650 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2016
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page


How I became an astrologer – a lesson in open-mindedness…

Here is the latest post on Astrology: Questions and Answers:

My first horoscope

My first horoscope


As 2016 begins: some thoughts on light, dark and the curse of being right…

As part of the slow process of emerging snail-like from the tinsel shell of the Festive Season, and preparing to greet the new world of 2016, I checked my Stats yesterday for the first time in a while. They had increased by around 500% at the turn of the year. Why? I wondered, bemused. Here is the reason: Rumi’s wonderfully wise poem “This being human”. Do read it, if you have not done so already. It contains great wisdom regarding the turbulent duality of light and dark forces which constitute not only human nature, but also Life itself.

Light and dark are inseparably interdependent: maybe, Rumi is suggesting, it would be wise to honour them both, since those dark destructive energies which periodically sweep through, causing havoc personally and collectively, contain  messages, guidance  from Beyond, which are telling us something we usually do not wish to hear.

I am not alone in having had Life hurl me against the same wall a few times before I eventually ‘get the message’, and with painful slowness begin the process of change which is being demanded of me by a deeper, wiser Self –  that chip of divine light which is present in every one of us.

I was moved by seeing those increased stats, and finding the Rumi post to be largely responsible. A year’s turn, no matter what our beliefs, brings with it a deeply-ingrained, archetypal need to take stock, reflect on the year gone by, and perhaps resolve to make some positive changes in the New Year emerging.

Those of you who drop by this blog regularly will know how much comfort and inspiration I take from wise quotes– and from poems. It is good to know that so many folk share my need to turn to quotes, and poems, in reflective moments.

Writers offering comforting platitudes skimmed from a glide across the surface of life, or perhaps digging down a little, do not move me. My help comes from  those who look unflinchingly into the world’s dark heart without underestimating in any way the destruction and cruelty to be found there, but who can balance what they see with inspiring affirmation.

Despite all the awfulness of ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ which is an ever-present reality through the ages both personally and collectively, Life is full of opportunities to be ‘surprised by joy’, to seek and find meaning in even the most scouring of experiences. That is certainly what I have come to believe.

Some writers have a way, also, of reminding us of how we need to change by poking us where it hurts. Reflecting on the current dismal-looking state of  planet Earth and its denizens as 2016 begins, I was chewing upon one of my favourite anger-generating topics: how our need to be RIGHT  – and its world-wide manifestations via religious, political and scientific fundamentalism – has probably caused more bloodshed, mayhem and havoc throughout history than anything else, when I came across this short but pungent poem by the poet Yahuda Amichai.

With thanks to Monica Domino who published it yesterday on symbolreader, I offer you this as a New Year meditation:

“The Place Where We Are Right”

“From the place where we are right
flowers will never grow
in the spring.

The place where we are right
is hard and trampled
like a yard.

But doubts and loves
dig up the world
like a mole, a plow.
And a whisper will be heard in the place
where the ruined
house once stood.”

Yehuda Amichai

Yehuda Amichai






600 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Yehuda Amichai 2016
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page