Planes, trains and automated phone systems


Firstly, our apologies about the length of the last blog. But in the words of Pascal, ‘we didn’t have time to write you a shorter one’. Actually I’ve just looked up this reference to check it was indeed Pascal and it seems there is much web-based disparity over who is in fact the author of this phrase. It’s Samuel Johnson to some people, Mark Twain to others. Oh well, I’m sticking with Blaise, since he predates them all.

Anyway, we are almost on our way. So, some people keep saying to me – ‘oh the glamour  – you and your jetset lifestyle.’ To this I keep having to reply no, not jetsetting, rather, trainspotting. You see, I’m not allowed to fly until August (touch wood) on account of my scuba-induced ruptured eardrum. But it’s fine, really. I think I actually was a trainspotter in a past life. My mum’s the same. We just get really excited about foreign trains. Is that so wrong? I mean, the one from Paris is a double decker!

Anyway, as well as being very nervous about the competition, I’m also very anxious about the moment I get to any French ATM in order to withdraw my first batch of euros. You see, for the last three times I’ve been abroad, Lloyds TSB have blocked my card, ‘in a bid towards fraud prevention.’ Nevertheless, every time, just before I go abroad, I try in vain to call up their call centre to try and forewarn them – ‘please don’t cancel my card, I’m going to need it to work.’ And yet, every time I get the same automated response. ‘No, we can’t put a note on your account. Computer says no.’ So every time I go to take out money, I have to then make a long overseas call to Lloyds, sit in another automated queue to have them reinstate it. Anyway, the reason I say all this is that I find it bizarre, not to mention deeply ironic, that of all the banks on the high street, Lloyds TSB seem the least willing to cooperate with their customers about when they’re going abroad. They are ‘for the journey’, but only in a deeply metaphorical sense. If you’re actually going abroad, it seems you’re better off with another bank. For instance, I’ve heard that some other banks actually have a place on their site where you can let card services know you’re going away. Anyway, rant over. I’ll let you know if my card works or not…I’m sure you’re all on tenterhooks.

Right now I’m off to watch some classic short films on Youtube by way of research. Interestingly (or not) the first one, Le Ballon Rouge, has someone called Pascal as the main character. Ho hum. Anyway, when that’s finished I’ve really got to spend some quality time with my drastically overflowing suitcase(s), try to squash them down a bit…rationalise on a few pairs of shoes… Then it’s off to King’s Cross to begin my epic train journey to Cannes via the Paris metro. All being well, we’ll both write more from Cannes after the Young Lions party…Bye for now,



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