Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Being busy!!!

My humdrum, quiet existence (get up, run round the Castro, breakfast, potter about doing this and that, go for a stroll and so on) went into a flurry of activity over the last few days. Well, I suppose that to some it would still seem quite humdrum but it felt quite busy here. 

First of all at some point on Sunday my friend Dominique phoned me, possibly because it was raining so hard over Vigo that she could do little else but phone people, and told me which book was being discussed at the meeting of the Alliance Française that I was going to attend on Monday. “You can find it easily on the Internet,” she assured me. And, indeed, we could and did. And so I spent the rest of Sunday and a good part of Monday reading “La Princesse de Clèves”, in the elegant 17th century French of Madame de Lafayette, full of grammatical constructions rarely used nowadays. It was also full of the romantic intrigues of the court of Henri II a hundred years earlier. Eastenders has nothing on 16th century France for promiscuity and complicated affairs. 

Anyway despite all the complications of plot and the imperfect subjunctive, I managed to finished it in time and went along and put in my two-penn’orth to the discussion. All good fun, and then Dominique produced a bottle of champagne and some petits gateaux. This was the last meeting of the group until September and so she was making it special. I had forgotten that she did that at the end of each year. How nice! It was good to meet some old friends as well, all of us catching up on what’s gone on in our lives since Phil and I left Vigo two years ago. 

So that was Monday. And then yesterday we received a parcel of forwarded mail sent by our daughter, including some letters from the bank and a new credit card. Now, I have ranted at length about security in Spain regarding banks and credit cards and so on. Well, yesterday the UK systems put it all to shame. One of our letters concerned possible fraud. We had agreed to lend our son some money (house-buying in London) and had transferred the amount from our account to his, using Internet banking. So they were checking up and we had to phone them and sort stuff out. Unfortunately I must have answered a question wrongly along the way and was told that I hadn’t passed the security check. Botheration! The young lady on the phone was apologetic, said she personally believed I was the account holder but she could not continue with the conversation. And no, I could not just pass her on to my husband. We had to call again, despite explaining that we were calling from Spain. So he called, went through a much reduced security check and passed first go. Problem sorted in no time and we took the trouble to point out that if we withdraw from ATM machines in Spain over the next couple of months they please should not cancel our cards. It will be us, not some fraudster. 

My husband may have handled that bank security procedure with ease but he went on to have problems activating the new credit card. This is a card which does NOT charge you for using it overseas and we had hoped it would arrive before we set off for Spain. No such luck! So we had to organise our daughter to look out for it, post it to us in the most secure postal package possible and send us the pin codes separately hidden in an email. All good so far. But then Phil needed to activate the card. To do that he needed a password which he had set up when applying. Could he remember it? Not at all! Was it written down anywhere? Not a chance! After much searching in coded messages all over the place, in notebooks, in computer files, anywhere possible, he was about to despair when they agreed to let him set up a new password. Somehow that rather defeats the object of security passwords but I suppose he had passed all the other checks they set up. 

After that we were quite exhausted and went mildly catatonic for the rest of the day! 

However, all is not frustration and complication. Progress has been made in the bijou residence. After much experimenting in pressing different combinations of buttons, I have persuaded the washing machine to spin for me. Never did I think I would get so enthusiastic about simple domestic pleasures like not having dripping wet washing!! In the meantime Phil has been attacking squeaky doors in the flat with my cocoa-butter flavoured lip-vaseline. Success! We now have squeak-free doors which probably smell delightful if you get close enough to the hinges. 

We ended the day in our current favourite internet cafe, Nuevo Derby on Urzáiz, where we watched the end of the European Championship football match where England managed to win once again. The waitress in the cafe was very pleased for us. A satisfactory end to a trying day!

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