Has this situation ever happened to you? | LUONG THAI LINH - LTL SH/apc - E

What a complicated world we live in. Hey, I know that I am often described a technophobe who would much rather live a simple life than have to memorise all sorts of guff that I have absolutely no interest in at all. I think I have already shared with you the grief that descended upon me when I sought to get a piece of paper that spelt out that I had had my Covid booster shot when anyone inquired of my jab status.

Frankly, if a piece of paper will do in Mallorca to prove that I had my initial vaccinations, why then do I have to faff about trying to get my local GP’s surgery here to do the same? Indeed, after taking about 47 minutes 33 seconds to get through by telephone to reception a woman then proceeded to waffle on about Apps and whatnot, as if talking to a rather dim eight year old.

But as young people say nowadays - let’s not go there! Indeed, one of the things that I find here in the UK is that nobody, yet nobody, ever wants to speak to you on the phone about anything that you may need from them or their organisations. This brings me neatly to the fact that our lives and the proof of our ‘being’ are contained in a largish red notepad we keep in a drawer under my mother-in-laws cut-out recipes she has collected from The Daily Express. It would be no exaggeration to say that if we should ever lose it, our lives would become very difficult indeed.

You see, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that everything a person does or doesn’t do nowadays has a password known only by you. The trouble is - unless you keep exactly the same codewords and entry numbers for everything, which you are specifically told not to do - you have to keep a record somehow of codes for almost everything, from various bank accounts and any further financial information you need to keep strictly between yourself and the taxman!

The trouble is of course, unless you are extremely careful, various passwords and identity numbers - can and do merge into one on occasions don’t they? The name of the first dog you ever had - was it Charlie or Mabel - or was that her dog, not your dog? Oh dear! Then what about your mother’s maiden name, or perhaps the number of the first house you lived in - how do I know?

Then you make up a number, but can’t quite remember what it was as soon as you give it - you didn’t forget to write it down did you? Oh dear! Then if you are like me and really can’t be bothered to spend over half an hour on the phone listening to a rather repetitive Rachmaninov tape on a loop, you let a loved one do it whilst for you and scowl at her all the while.

When the person comes on the line, Julie is always really good and polite, but at some stage I have to say something because the inquiry is about information I need to know. The first thing that I notice is that the person at the bank, building society, council offices et-al is very used to the monosyllabic husband who can’t remember anything and will talk to him (me!) very slowly and deliberately. After confirming my name, age (surely not!) they will usually throw at you a trick questioner or two that you hadn’t expected.”

Mr Leavers, what is the name of your grandson?” I have two I explain, “Yes, but only one is on your security profile.” Bloody hell, Julie help! I think these women (it’s always women) do it on purpose, knowing full-well that your mature man has the average concentration span of a gerbil on speed and just ask these sorts of questions to enliven their dull days.

Nevertheless, with all those wicked scammers out there, I suppose that these security checks are a much needed protection against those who would separate you from your hard earned cash. Funnily enough, although I can never properly remember the name of the street I first lived in as a child, I am fully aware of the ways and means that ruthless con artists and worse get their ‘inside’ information on an intended victim.

For instance, I am always amazed at the naivety of Facebook users who gleefully fill in those random online questionnaires regarding names of favourite - bands, colours, names, food, you name it, they will happily share ‘inside’ information with anonymous social media sites without second thought as to why? - and perhaps more accurately - what for? I think that I have mentioned this before - but a friend of mine was a middle ranking officer in the police. He would always assure me that - he could work out a password by asking a person just four to five critical questions.

While I’m at it, it seems that here in the UK money as we used to know it barely exists any more. Apropos nothing - I noticed the other day that my local ‘City’ convenience store had removed its cash point and when I asked the shop assistant “Why?” she answered that hardly anyone used them anymore and head-office thought them to be a security risk. So arguing against myself, perhaps the more insightful or complex the password the safer your money is from greedy and grasping criminals.

The problem with this of course - is that you do have to remember what they are in the first place or find that little ‘red book’ we all have tucked away somewhere but can’t quite remember where, because let’s face-it a persons whole financial life is probably written in their own code on the pages within.