I have been barred from many places.
The first place from which I was barred, when I was very young, was a bank. In fact, it wasn’t just a bank as in a single branch of a bank; it was every branch of that particular bank in the entire world.
The bank barring occurred many years ago when I was working in London. I lived in a fine English county called Essex and would commute to work every day on a train crammed full of people as equally sad as myself.
Essex is one of the few places on this planet where a man can tell if a woman has had an orgasm; the ice in her gin and tonic starts to clink against the side of her glass during the event.
It was lunchtime. I walked into a branch of my bank and deposited a ten pounds note into my account (in those days, ten pounds was a fair bit of money and would probably have bought half of Mayfair).
Suddenly, I remembered that I was meeting friends that night, before returning to Essex, and would, in fact, require the money for that evening’s bash.
“Sorry,” I said to the lady behind the counter, “I’ve just remembered that I’ll need that money for tonight. Can I have it back, please?”
“Of course you can sir, but you’ll have to write a cheque to get the money because I’ve stamped your paying-in book.”
“I don’t have my cheque book with me,” I responded.
“In that case, sir, you’ll have to purchase a counter cheque and fill that out.”
“Can’t you just destroy the counterfoil in my paying-in book and give me the ten pound note back?”
“It’s not that simple, sir,“ she answered.
“How can it not be simple? That,“ I replied, pointing to the exact same ten pounds note that I’d just paid in, “is my ten pounds there.”
“I’m sorry, sir, but it’s not your ten pounds anymore. It is now in the custody and control of this bank. If you wish to withdraw ten pounds from your account, you will have to issue a cheque.”
“Oh, alright, give me a bloody counter cheque.”
I filled out the cheque and handed it to the lady sitting behind the glass screen. The screen had probably been installed to stop people like me hitting her.
“I see that you don’t actually hold your account with this branch of the bank, sir. I’ll have to call your branch in Essex and confirm you have the funds in your account.”
“What do you mean ‘have the funds in my account’? That’s my frigging ten pounds note on your desk!”
“That ten pounds, sir, has not been processed or cleared and, therefore, will not form part of your account balance.”
I Knew I had naff all in my account in Essex, apart from the money I thought I’d just put into it. “Lady, just give me the bloody ten pounds note back. It will be a lot easier for everyone.”
She ignored me and phoned the branch in which I’d opened my account.
A few minutes later she returned and informed me, “You do not have sufficient funds in your account to be able to cash this counter cheque, sir.”
“Of course my branch doesn’t have the ten pounds, it’s still laying on your bloody desk!”
“Actually, sir, I no longer possess your ten pounds.”
“In the name of all that is holy, can you please explain why you do not have my ten pounds? I can see the note on your desk. It is easily recognisable because it is a different colour to that of notes of other denominations. You will also see that it has our monarch’s face printed on one side and the face of a war-mongering politician on the other side. It has not moved in the last five minutes. It is the ten pounds note that I very recently gave to you. Even a complete retard would accept that is the ten pounds note that I came in with and gave to you. YOU have the ten pounds note!”
Facing the prospect of missing out on the piss-up of the month, my patience was running out, “get me the manager, right now!” I insisted.
“The manager is busy.”
“Then tell him to bloody well un-busy himself!”
“It’s not a ‘him’ it’s a ‘her’.”
“I couldn’t give two shakes of a donkey’s knob what sex the manager is. I don’t even care if he or she is French. Just get me the manager or, indeed, anyone who is not in need of a cerebral enema!”
The country’s next finance minister walked away to find someone.
I turned round, shaking my head in bemusement. Behind me stood a sizeable crowd. “Sorry if I’m holding you up,“ I said to the audience, “but there’s both a principle and a piss-up involved here.”
Most of them appeared to be on my side and were enjoying the lunchtime’s entertainment.
A man turned up at the counter and said, “I’m the Deputy Manager. Can I help you, sir?”
“I’d like to think so, but looking at you, I’m having a doubt.”
“What’s the problem, sir?”
“Right, ten minutes ago I paid ten pounds, in cash, into my account. The branch of your bank that actually handles my account is in Essex. That vaguely familiar piece of paper on this woman’s desk is the ten pounds note in question.”
At this point, I heard someone behind me say: “This guy’s good.”
I continued, “Now, I know I don’t have the ten pounds. I am being told that you don’t have the ten pounds. Finally, I am also being told that my branch in Essex doesn’t have the ten pounds.”
I drew in a deep breath and shouted, “Would you please, for the love of God and for the sake of my sanity, just tell me who the fuck has got the ten pounds!”
“Sir, it’s not as simple as that. You will have to wait three clear days before you can have the ten pounds.”
I turned to look at the crowd for support. They were clearly enthralled and a couple of them gave me the thumbs-up.
I stepped away from the counter and looked at the twenty or so bank employees working behind the Deputy Manager.
“Hey, you lot over there!”
Twenty pairs of eyes looked up at me.
“Is there anyone amongst you that has an IQ higher than that of someone who is still stuck on their mother’s tit, and doesn’t mind working on their own?”
There didn’t appear to be anyone, but, nevertheless, I continued, “Because if there is, and you genuinely don’t mind working on your own, I’m now promoting you to Branch Manager! Your first task is to sack all the morons in this building!”
One of my followers gave me a pat on the back. I looked behind to thank him.
I appeared to have gained a uniformed supporter.
I never got to the piss-up.
The very next morning, I received a letter from the bank stating that it was no longer prepared to be my banker and that I was not to enter any of its properties in this country, or any other country.
As for the ‘missing’ ten pounds, well, strangely, they’d found it sooner than expected and had attached it to the letter in the form of a cheque.
I was once barred from a butchers’ shop. I’ll tell you about it sometime.