Whatever happens in the budget, Gordon Brown will get a big cheer from me if he bashes the banks. I even wrote and told one of them so this week (admittedly I wasn't asking for a loan at the time).
This bank - the Nat West - had the nerve to send me a note saying that they expected I would want an overdraft facility again, so they would extend it and charge me £85 for the privilege! I told them not to bother: paying their usurious rates of interest is more than enough without imaginary fees being added on, for what takes two clicks of a keyboard to accomplish.
The second bank to incur my displeasure was Abbey National, which seems unable to comply with a simple request.
On four occasions, by letter and phone call, I have asked them to send me a statement. They seem to regard this as such an outlandish request that they ignore it, forcing me to ring them and listen to their interminable jingle which, after 25 loops, leaves the customer ready to wring someone's neck.
But there is competence and good service in the finance sector. Step forward Nationwide Building Society, for the Franklin bouquet of roses for superb customer relations.
This year I noticed a strange figure in my mortgage account. An unexpected three figure sum had appeared, racking up annual interest. I wrote and asked for an explanation.
This is where a bad company - or a bank - would have wriggled and squirmed, saying it was all my fault.
Tanya Pisani of Nationwide investigated, said the Nationwide accepted responsibility for a mix-up and, as a goodwill gesture, wrote off the loan, which was well received by yours truly.
None of the above knew I was a journalist. How glad I am that we still have a few mutuals around, like Nationwide, which keep borrowing rates down and the greedy banks on their toes.
Remember this next time some chancer tries to get you to convert your building society into a bank…
Still on the subject of money, and the waste of it, which seems to be what Government and local councils exist for.
One of the causes of the disgusting rises in our council taxes, which are then spent by councils in drunken sailor mode, is that all branches of Government, from the EU down, are constantly extending their control over us.
One reason many schoolteachers are fed up and leaving the profession, as my Hampshire schoolteacher daughter tells me, is the masses of assessments and reports they are expected to endlessly provide. Thus she often had to work until 10 pm on red tape, much of which is duplicated by education "experts" (ha ha) in Whitehall and The Kremlin at Winchester.
Thousands of these useless people could be culled and the effect would be zero, other than on our bloated tax bills. In fact schools, freed up from their malign interference, could get on with teaching. Head teachers are well able to run their establishments without outside interference. Proof? Look at the incredible success of almost every school outside the "system".
Hampshire County Council employs 32,700 people including a team of corporate spin doctors. It even publishes, at vast expense, its own, ludicrous and little read magazine. Scope for savings here!
Councils also offer ridiculous, irrelevent advice on every aspect of life. Surrey Heath sends me tips on what presents to buy at Christmas, for example, just in case I need some help. (Not). They are all in the bread and circuses business, losing millions on "arts and entertainment" which most people would much prefer to buy and choose themselves, using money saved from tax wastage.
Rushmoor has all sorts of busybodies worrying about what might happen to us if they don't stick their snoopy noses in. Today (April 18) they are holding a seminar telling us what to do if our business floods (start baling), if it catches fire or if a plane crashes on it (little need to worry in that case, I'd have thought).
What if we have a local disaster, they ask. We have several; they're called your local councils…
Remember Mr. Benn, the ordinary middle-aged suburbanite who walked into a strange little shop and emerged with a new personna? It was a TV favourite when our children were young.
I have been developing Mr. Benn tendencies lately; going home, walking into the gaily-painted building at the bottom of our garden and becoming someone quite different....
I have just finished another series of broadcasts to America, on the topic of the E.U.and Bible prophecy, among other subjects,and if I stop and think about it the whole thing seems surreal. Last week the studios in Oklahoma had to go on hold while a neighbour finished using what sounded like a buzzsaw.They didn't want millions of Americans listening to me plus what seemed like an angry hornet.
The half hour programmes go out on over 100 stations all across North and South America and on the web, and although not live they may as well be, as there is no re-recording. You have to get it right first time. This is more difficult on the telephone than in a studio. In a recording studio, where I will be again this summer, you have a "cough button," the use of which is obvious.You can also gauge the reaction of your interviewer. On the phone you have to guess how it is going, so I just plough on without pause for breath. It can't have been too bad as this week my hosts invited me to speak at a prophecy conference in Tennessee in June.
Mr. Benn himself couldn't have a more interesting double life.