6. Mortgage Developments

Six weeks after my first mortgage meeting I found myself sat in the same bank branch, listening to the same generic music, with Mum by my side. The latter element caused a great deal of unease among the staff, the Customer Service Assistant’s face said it all. She handed us drinks and scuttled off to warn Katie about the deeply unhappy customer and her menacing bouncer.

In stark contrast to both former advisor Jack and her telephone demur, Katie was a quieter, more reserved figure. The sort of person who looked very knowledgeable and nice, but not built to handle stress or pressure. Like Jack she looked not much older than me, although the engagement ring on her finger suggested a higher degree of maturity and stability compared to her predecessor. Early on, as part of attempts to break the tension, she commented on her house purchase. Oddly enough, it didn’t work.

By the time my meeting with Katie had come around I had developed strong, understandable and justified reasons to be ticked off with BankUK. Waiting for the elusive Saturday slot I’d had time to simmer, research and rebound. I’d sat in my small house share room fuming at the situation, firing off emails to solicitors promising all was in hand. The offer had been put on the property in November and it was now mid-January, unsurprisingly people on both sides were starting to ask questions regarding the legitimacy of funds. The emails I sent back were at best holding emails, at worst down right lies. I settled with telling myself they were white lies, the only thing that could hold the sale together. When I wasn’t on email I was on the phone, researching and grilling BankUK. I didn’t believe for a second that what they’d done was above board and was determined to find out more. One Thursday evening the exhaustive, repetitive, calls finally bore fruit.

“…well BankUK’s lending policy changed on January 5th. We decreased the lending multiples on that day.”

“Remind me again what date my mortgage was declined? The application which was based on the higher lending limit?”

“It was declined on January 7th Miss Bennett.”

“Right. I want a transcription of this call please.”

With this previously withheld knowledge now firmly in my grasp, Katie’s attempts to try and lighten the mood did nothing but make her look like an increasingly fragile figure.

“Now, I’m aware you have a complaint with us, but I am here to start a new mortgage application, as discussed on the telephone…”

“Yep, I remember that call,” I replied with a straight face.

“We’ll pick up the other outstanding issues once I’ve submitted your new mortgage application,” Katie quickly added with a strained smile.

It was at that time I realised that Katie was perhaps not as hard faced as her telephone manner had suggested. When the office scanner started playing up I could see her hands visibly shake. Trying to cover up her emotions, Katie squeaked “this printer always plays up!” I meanwhile sat across the desk, unsure what to make of my new advisor. “This can’t be the same woman I spoke to on the phone” I thought, “a puff of wind would blow her over”.

Watching someone get into a state is never particularly pleasant, especially when it’s over the presence of one’s own mother. Minutes later, with advisor and printer getting into an ever worsening state, the Katie dashed out of the room to find an alternative scanner.

“She’s freaking out.”

“She wasn’t expecting me to be here. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s gone to her manager.”

“I’m not angry at her, she’s not the one responsible for messing this up. But if I don’t assert myself they’ll think they can walk all over me.”

After a vacating for a lengthy period, Katie returned to the room in a more composed state. I did everything I could to speed the meeting and forced myself to think happy thoughts when I agreed to apply for the lower sum. At the end of the meeting Katie took the print outs of the emails and a scan of the famous birthday card and promised that the complaint would be looked into.

“In order to move this on, I suggest we meet this Thursday.” Katie said, shuffling papers.

“I work in Swindon during the week. Can we do Saturday?” I asked.

“I do alternate Saturdays I’m afraid.”

“Do I need to come to this meeting? If all it involves is signing the agreement can I post it?”

“Sorry, it needs to happen in Heathley branch. It’s policy.”

I sighed. “Fine, I’ll use my annual leave to sit in a finance meeting.”

“Great, I’ll see you then.”

And that was that.

Other than a quick email confirming my second application had been approved (“too ruddy right it has been”), the next time I spoke with Katie was in the second meeting. And if I thought the handling of my application was already poor, the situation was about to get a whole lot more bizarre…

 

This post is part of the ‘First Time Buyer Diaries’. To view the full series (so far) click here.

Look, All I’m Sayin’…

Reason #8587839 why the English language is so hard to learn – Savor

a) Savor is American.
b) Savour is the exact same word spelt differently (and correctly might I add) in British English (i.e. English, English).
c) Savour is too close to the Jesus Christ the Saviour, for my liking (especially when robed men go about and start including bread in the same conversation).

 

And that was another episode of “Look, All I’m Sayin’…” next week we’ll start the first of a special ten part special into how every element of following phrase should never have slipped through the net:

“No way did you knowing read a trashy colored book called ‘from Reading to Rubbish’! I saw someone reading that too. It was whilst I was on the see saw in the park with the poor car parking. You might as well pour your pounds down the drain with that one, but then no one reads anymore anyway. If I had it my way I’d do a ‘U’ turn on policy preventing pupils from using their pupils on lunch break, and let their creativity break loose by buying books in bimonthly sales, or else we might as well say bye-bye to the future.”

 

Written in response to the WordPress Prompt of the day: Savor

Blame it on the Weatherman

Sunshine in Britain? Hah, hah good one! When the TV weather forecast tells me it will be sunny tomorrow my only natural reaction is to call it out as bull poop. I mean really Mr Weatherman, are you going to stand there in your shiny suit and snazzy London office and tell me that tomorrow it’ll be sunny? Liar. It won’t be, will it? At best it’ll be cloudy or at worst muggy (ergh). Either way it will not be sunny. I bet it’ll be all sunshine and rainbows in the patch of paradise that is the South East but not in my dark corner of the country, no siree. I’m sorry but I have been caught out too many times these past couple of weeks in the middle nowhere without a coat or umbrella. BBC weather you have lost my trust.

(For those of you who have yet to be introduced to my work properly I tend to moan…a lot.)

I don’t think I need to explain this in great detail but let me break it down for you; the sun barely shines in Britain. In another life all British citizens stole a chocolate bar from Gran’s fridge and our actions in that life disgruntled a deity just enough to have us placed, in this life, in a country where there is little to no sun. If you’re displeasure by the weather is not made vocal enough you’re basically classed a nutter/not British (whichever is worse). Of course the other thing you should know about the British people is that when the sun does finally come out and temperatures soar above the dizzying heights of 15C you can count on one thing for definite – we’ll moan to buggery about that too

Moral of the story? Don’t move to Britain for the climate and don’t become a weatherman.

 

Written in response to the daily WordPress prompt – Sunny

Why The Word ‘Commit’ Makes Me Yawn

When people talk of commitment they’re usually referring to an attachment to a person, goal or foodstuff. All well and good but incredibly predictable. So what you can commit to your job, guess what? The rest of the employed world already does that. You’re committed to your partner? I should darn well hope so! It’s just so predictable and, well, boring.

On the flipside I often feel the word “commit” can also come off as a bit strong, for me it casts images of stone handcuffs imprisoning you forever to an assertion. So you say you’re committed to a food brand? Uh huh, lets see what happens when I double its price and halve that of its rival.

Take this hypothetical example…

Me: “I want to eat a banana.”

Internal Devil Voice: “NO! You must eat chocolate. You said you’re committed to it!”

Me: “But that was one time when was single and having a binge day.”

Devil: “You can’t just drop a commitment because it suits you. You said it then, deal with the consequences of your actions.”

Me: “But…but…”

Devil: “No buts, now eat fatty, eat!”

And this is why I can only eat chocolate. Damn you Devil voice, you and your forcing me to eat unhealthily! *shakes fist in the air

However to prove that I’m not some kind of free spirited hippie that can’t bind herself to anything more than breathing, here is a list of things I can at least half-commit to (without lying or making you want to throw up).

These things are:

  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Spilling both on frequent occasion
  • Vintage-style dresses
  • The memory of Heath Ledger in Ten Things I Hate About You
  • Mika’s first album
  • Chocolate (see above conversation)
  • New pillows
  • Phil Collins…just Phil Collins
  • The 2016/17 TV adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale (thou shalt not talk about the 1990 film)
  • My writing

There you go, all the things I can reasonably commit to and make me happy. You now know a lot more about compared to a post writing a soppy love story about how committed I am to my family. I bet as a reader you preferred it too. Please feel free to send me any combination of these things to my door, although FYI chocolate covered Phil Collins is a definite no. Lets get that idea nipped in the bud.

 

Oddly enough this post was written in response to the word prompt of the day Commit

Mess With My Garden, Mess With Me. 

It’s a gloriously sunny day in the fair town of Swindon, Britain. The temperatures are scorching, children are playing about on the lush green communal lawns and there are men walking around topless who really shouldn’t be. So why do I find myself ripping my hands to shreds as I tug away at weeds and vines in my garden?

Crawling under my front hedge to pick up pieces of rogue rubbish, putting together an outdoor table and realising at the finish line I’d screwed one part upside down and thereby having to start all over again. When I bought a house they did no tell me this is how I would spend my finite time on Earth. My government sold me a lie! Damn you Teresa May!

As I look at my patio garden, now with correctly assembled three piece dining set, I acknowledge that to some the small outdoor space would hardly pass as acceptable. The fact that despite the owner’s hard efforts, vine and weed sprouts are already starting to poke through the wicker fence would be inexcusable. There is no water feature or decorative sculpture, no plants and excluding the weeds there isn’t a speck of green. Not a single blade of grass can compete with the paving stones which stretch from the back door to the boarder of my territory. In fact it could be said that the only characteristic feature of the plot is the clothes horse proudly plonked in the centre to catch as much light as possible. As I type my floral duvet in ruffling ever so slightly in the near still breeze. Foliage will make an appearance eventually, as soon as I have the money to buy pots, soil and greenery which requires zero attention to look fabulous. (As I reread that I realise that basically I’m asking to plant a tub of weeds…)

And yet do I care? Pfft, of course not! Because although it’s not perfect and it’s not a 20 acre meadow, it’s mine. Who wants perfect? Who wants to battle a wild meadow on their weekends just to use it as a five minute conversation piece at dinner parties? Not me. You can keep all that, I’ll take my perfectly small, perfectly improve-able garden. It’s not ugly but a work in progress.

It may not be full of colour, bees and landscaped features but it’s mine and that makes it more attractive than any one blossom in your garden. You mess with my garden, you mess with me and my poorly constructed table.

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Written in response to Daily Prompt Blossom

One Day, One Arm

Well this is a new one for me. Today I went to the doctors and, uninteresting story made short, my left arm was pumped full of stuff. Long term it’s great, but short term it doesn’t half make my life fun.

Said arm is currently in a state of varying nagging pain. Not insufferable, but not ignorable either. It’s a bit like walking through a field of sugar-coated stinging nettles which has been made home to a swam of wasps. Constant background pain with the occasional sharp stab with each false move of the arm. Irritating pain, irritating pain, irritating pain, STAB! Irritating pain, irritating pain, irritating pain, STAB!

Lucky, lucky me.

The result of said niggling pain is a reluctance to move said left arm and keep it as still as possible. In the short term this worked fine, but now it’s debateable what is more noticeable, the tight white bandage or the strawberry red hand which marks the collection point for bodily fluids. Despite appearances I’m still electing to go for ugly hand over hurty arm. Spending a day carrying out tasks with one arm brings no rewards but plenty of challenges. Prepping food, putting headphones on, bodily functions. Right now I am typing this, to the best of my ability, with one hand. In fact not even one hand, one index finger. And my gosh it’s so tedious, every upper case letter takes forever to implement! Going back to correct frequent typos takes forever (if you’re reading this and spotted many missed mistakes I’ve overlooked, sorry but not sorry – same for grammar). I’m currently pumping myself full of sugar to stay motivated enough to type one fingered. There could also be a number of drugs messing with my head, this I’m not too sure of because everything I write is just as equally likely to be natural, wacky, me. It reminds me of the days at school before I learnt to join up writing, when every letter was written out one. By. One. It also reminds me of when Mumma Bennett used to insist on typing each letter on the keyboard.

“Let me help you mum.”
“No, it’s ok.”
“But it’s so painful to watch!”

Today’s events have also reinforced my firmly held belief that very British person chooses to ignore the blinding obvious out of fear of causing offence. Why do we do it? Say no evil, there is no evil (that’s how it works, right?) Returning back to the office from my not so merry outing with a large white bandage it did cross my mind that the fashion statement might come into water cooler dialogue. I had it all prepped, “oh goodness Alice, are you ok?” someone would say. “It’s fine,” I’d wave off “just medication, this is temporary.” Total times I had to pull out this comment? 0. Now, I will accept that I wasn’t particularly desperate to tell my co-workers the full details, but I was surprised by the lack of comment. People looked at the bandage enough, so much that I was actually quite relieved that the medical wrapping wasn’t positioned on my head or chest. They knew it was there, some of them may have even notified my attempts to shift through paperwork one-handed (FYI not easy) but nope, we will let the strangely limp human carry on. It’s character building. I elected not to tell clients on email/phone of this development. When I am chasing for something or vice versa the last thing either of us care about is the state of my left arm. Do you still have four limbs? Yes. Am I getting my quote today? Yes. Ok, well I’d love to chat but I really would rather not. Bye. Simples.

The minor pain will be gone by tomorrow, but going through this makes me value those who have to put up with pain constantly. Fair play to those sorts because, as you can tell, I’ve barely made it through twelve hours without going cuckoo. I feel like Peter Griffin that one time he was in a wheelchair.

(Apologises for image quality, YouTube scroungers can’t be choosers)

I’d like to write more on this but my right arm is beginning to ache from the typing, my left arm has been stung my wasps again and my brain is trying to work out how the stuff to prepare dinner and tomorrow’s lunch with minimal limb usage. It’s going to be interesting and quite likely coffee stained. Who knows, maybe we’ll get a hot beverage burn in there for good measure.

Is This What Becomes of Love?

Picture a young couple sat on a romantic table for two in the prized window location. Outside, the hum of life acts out its natural course whilst inside the firmly fixed table presents an array of steaming dishes all the colours of the rainbow. But the beautiful pair remain silent. The buzz of life is not as loud as the buzz of technology. Eyes locked on laps the lovers sit in silence, unable to exchange more than a grunt towards each other.

Is this what becomes of love?

Now imagine on the ground below a family. A gathering stood in unity on the very streets which not a week ago cradled their darling as she drifted into a long, deep, sleep. The cracked cement barely clean, the group scroll through comments of condolence and pixelated shouts. The invisible vocals scream for the head of a man they do not know in repayment for a corpse they do not know. Unable to change fate and human emotion, the huddled unit desperately make a plea to the man in the cloud. They beg him to remove their daughter from public memory, but the man says he can’t. What he giveth he cannot taketh away.

Is this what becomes of death?

Take a snapshot of the young woman tottering past the stained tiles in high heels. She joins a group of friends at the town’s third classiest bar on a table laden with overpriced toxic juice. Talk is cheap but photos might equal fame, so they ignore deep conversation in favour of recording every second of this meeting in pictorial form. Every angle in a multitude of colours and effects, it is no wonder that their untouched beverages overflow with melted ice. Who said the world is in a constant state of movement when it can be fixed and recorded in a hundred sepia selfies.

Is this what becomes of life?

Widen the lens and tucked away you find my lone figure in the shadows. The painted ladies momentarily glance in my direction before carrying on as before. Averting my gaze, I shuffle past to an attractive window display at the end of the street, but instead of venturing in I choose to remain external. I photo the object of my desires and walk on before I’m caught in the act. Later I will enable a computer to put another man on the streets from the comfort of my living room sofa. I see you and feel moved to take a secondary snap to share with strangers in Vancouver, Paris and Jerusalem. No model release form needed, I will happily take your pain and use it to claim one second of fame. Anything to get a virtual gratification hit.

Is this what becomes of me?