Harry Turner's Episodes of Personal History
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Telephone Banking & Exercise

My recent complaints about NatWest [bank] result from hitches in the enforced transfer of our account from Romiley to Stockport and chiefly derive from having to rely on phoned instructions. Definitely prefer dealing with someone behind a counter to a disembodied voice at the end of a phone.

It so happens that I haven't needed to use a cashpoint machine since I retired—indeed, after eleven years I've completely forgotten my PIN number anyway!—and after a working lifetime with salary transferred to the bank account, writing out cheques and using credit cards to pay for most everything, and rarely getting to handle coin of the realm, it's a novelty now to draw out money, and actually feel cash momentarily before I pass it on.

While I could sit around at home and pay the Ceetax by standing order, I prefer to draw the cash out of the bank periodically, and get a bit of exercise tramping up School Brow to the council office at the local library. That way I can keep an eye on any books that the library are selling off, see if there's anything of interest in the Information Centre, call at the post office en route, and maybe catch up with essential photocopying, all in the one trip. Even if I do get rained on now and again.

This is one of the several routines devised to ensure that I drag myself beyond the immediate vicinity of the village shops periodically. Another is the occasional trip to Threshers, which has the merit of including the climb up the hill from Marple Bridge to the shopping centre, and the toil up Compstall Brow on the return journey, with the option of catching the bus if it gets too strenuous. (The canal towpath route is temporarily closed while repairs are being carried out). Then there is the ascent of Werneth Low, for an eventual descent into Hyde and sundry DIY stores. So all trips have a purpose, while getting me out of my chair and away from the computer for a while.

When I retired, I realised how much walking I had done while at work. The Deansgate complex (and that is just the right word to describe the complicated linkages between the several buildings we [the Manchester Evening News] occupied) meant that I spent much energy dashing between various departments to ensure that jobs went through smoothly, speeded up by on-the-spot decisions.

And even when I first retired, I found myself in demand helping out the various freesheets the News had taken over, dashing to the Metro office in the wilderness at the far end of Deansgate most days of the week, and then out to Bolton periodically. So now, after all this rushing around has died down, I am left with a certain amount of energy to burn up. Hence the emergence of the Ceetax routine, and similar incentives to get me up and out walking. ■

Letter to the Varleys, May 1997

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