Before I went off to university, my father took me to the local branch of Barclays Bank, introduced me to the Manager and guided me through the process of opening an account. He had himself worked for Barclays, as had his brother, and his father had been Manager of the Finchley branch.
So it was with a heavy heart and a guilty heavenward glance that I decided to close the account – after 51 years. It wasn’t the LIBOR fixing scandal that broke the camel’s back but the second doubling of account-keeping fees in 3 years: from £5 to £10 to £20 per month.
I wrote a letter to the Barclays director who informed me of the changed fees – an actual letter, on paper, in an envelope with a stamp in the corner. I expressed and explained my regret.
Mrs SG thinks me a sentimental old fool, I think, and unrealistic to expect a similarly regretful letter in reply. Not for the first time, Mrs SG was right. Banks are not known for strong emotions. The account is closed, the money transferred, the caravan moves on.
But sometimes, when a breeze moves through the trees, I think I hear my grandfather sigh.