Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Why I don't save anymore...

Yesterday I hinted at my distrust and the inadequacies of the banking system, to be more precise my doubt that any money that I pay in there is not wrapped up in a rubber band with my name tag on and placed on a particular shelf inside their safe ready for when I need it back - I don't think that it works like that at all.

In fact I know it doesn't work like that at all for I have secretly written secret codes on several bank notes when depositing them and guess what - on every occasion I've been given different notes back when I withdrew the same amount, in other words they have given me someone else's money, which I don't mind of course, but who is getting my money ?

This deep mistrust of anything with the word "bank" in it started when I was young, when I was very young in fact...

Its 1961 and the young Jerrychicken is five years old and in his second year at school, yes due to the vaguries of the Leeds City Council school starting age policy I had to attend school when I was four and not five like everyone else, I like to think its because I was special, and I think the Council thought that too for the word "special" arose at several points during my schooling.

For some weird council inspired planning reasons we had to attend two infants schools in the inner city slum that was Burley, the first one for the first two years of your school life and then another much bigger infants school later, maybe they were just trying to use up all the possible combinations of classrooms that they had a surfeit of, maybe they were just deliberately arsing about with our young lives.

Suffice to say that in 1961 I was in the second of two years at the first infant school when Miss Trenholme, an imposing matronly headmistress with a remarkable resemblence to Hattie Jacques walked into our small classroom and announced that it was about time that us poor slum clearance children were taught the value of saving money and she instructed us to tell our parents to send us to school the next day with a sixpence clutched in each childs sweaty palm.

She further informed us that each child would recieve a savings book from her and if we brought sixpence each week then by the end of the school year when we moved to "the big school" then we'd have the grand sum of ten shillings saved up - wouldn't that be good - and of course they all nodded "yes Miss Trenholme".

All except me, I saw through her little scheme straight away, even at six years of age I saw exactly what her conniving was all about - she had negotiated a good deal on a loan or a mortgage with her local building society on the strength that she would sign up thirty kids and get them to pay in sixpence a week - the scamming old cow could not pull the wool over my young eyes, oh no.

But I paid in my sixpence every week and she signed my little savings book and totted up the savings every week until right at the end of the year we all had the grand sum of ten shillings in each of our accounts - and then she introduced the sting in the tail.

On the last day of term she gave us all a long talk on how us six year olds were the future of this once great country of ours, and how we needed to be financially astute in order to make our way through life, and how our once great country actually needed our sixpences in order to rebuild our empire after the battering that we had taken fifteen years earlier in the war (she unfurled a union flag at this juncture in her speech and saluted it ), and that the thing that she sincerley hoped that we would all do now is to allow her to pass all of our savings accounts onto her building society manager where he would ensure that we could continue saving sixpence a week at "the big school".

She was lying and I saw straight through her scam.

She walked around the classroom collecting the savings books from each child, each child aqueiscing to her demand, except me, I kept a tight hold of my pass book as she took a hold of one corner and tried to tug it from my grasp, she told me to let go, I told her that I'd like to keep it please.

Her face turned to thunder, I remember still the look on that huge face of hers, its the look that is reserved for dog shit when you discover it on the sole of your shoe.

"It would be much better if you gave me the savings book so that I can transfer your account to the big school account" she explained.

"I want the ten shillings" I informed her

"You shouldn't spend your savings" she explained, then turned to our classroom teacher, "do these childrens parents not understand the value of savings" she asked pitifully.

I still wouldn't let go, she left my desk staring over her shoulder at me, memorising my face, I was in big trouble, every other child in the class handed over their savings books and little did they know at the time but that was the last time they would ever see those books and their precious ten shillings.

My mother came to pick me up and was commanded to see the Head, who explained, nicely at first that she would like me to hand over the savings book like all the other children had done so. My mother looked down at me, still clutching my precious maroon savings book, "I want the ten shillings" I told her.

"He wants his ten shillings Miss Trenhome" my mother explained

Miss Trenholme set off on a long discourse on how valuable a lesson saving money was and blah, blah, blah, the flag unfurled and saluted again, blah, blah, blah...

..."He still wants his ten shillings Miss Trenholme" my mother insisted.

There was impasse, both women stared at each other over the desk.

Miss Trenholme slowly reached into a desk drawer and withdrew a locked tin box, fumbled somewhere deep down inside her ample busom and produced a key with which she slowly unlocked the box, all the while continuing to stare out my mother.

"This is most irregular" she said

"He wants his ten shillings" is all that my mother would say

The box was full of sixpences and Miss Trenholme counted out twenty of them and pushed them very slowly across the desk to my mother who counted them again and with a satisfied grin poured them into her purse.

We thanked Miss Trenhome and left the school for the last time.

My fellow six year old pupils never saw their twenty sixpences again, no savings books appeared at "the big school" and as no scandal erupted I assume that no-one complained and for all I know the old cow may still be working the same scam in an old maids nursing home somewhere.

I spent my ten shillings on Lego.

I have never saved since.

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