Friday August 13, 2004
The nice young woman at the Pensions Service was a little flummoxed. “You should have heard by now,” she said. “Will you hang on while I check it out?” Well of course I would, so she left the line, to be replaced by Mozart. One of the Horn Concertos but I can’t recall the number. It’s the one everyone knows, even if they don’t know that they know it.
“Are you still there, Mr Bailey?”
“Yes, here I am.”
“We’ve pulled all the paper work out and will get the calculations done and sent to you as soon as possible. Sorry about the delay.”
“No problem. Just so’s I know the case is in hand. Can you tell me when my pension will start?”
“You should get the first payment on Monday, and weekly thereafter.”
“Paid into the bank as normal?”
“Oh yes, just as usual. Two days earlier than the old benefit.”
“Can you tell me how much it’ll be?”
“Ah well. Not to worry; it’ll all come out in the wash. Thanks for your time.”
I put the phone down, and gazed out of the window in some puzzlement. Surely, if they’re going to make the payment on Monday, they should know the amount by mid-day on the preceeding Friday, four hours before the banking system closes for the weekend? I shall never know the answer to that one, of course. One of the mysteries of administration, that’s what it is. I suspect there’s a computer involved somewhere.
Once the pension is in regular payment it’ll all run smooth as clockwork. I had expected a degree of disturbance and interruption as I switched over to Retirement Pension from Incapacity Benefit, and still do. Major changes in individual pension payments are historically not a smooth operation in the Civil Service, or any similar body. It will get sorted, eventually. Fortunately for me it’s not the only part of my pension income, so I’ll be able to weather the choppy seas without too much bother. It’d be a different matter, and one for serious concern, if the Retirement Pension were to be my only source of income. I’m sure they must give such cases priority, though. Hope so, anyway.
There are several other things I need to do in the same connexion. I have to find out how I go about claiming my free ‘bus pass, for example, now that the pension is paid into the bank rather than through a warrant book at the post office. So far as I know, you have to present your pension book to prove your eligibility. That, I foresee, will be fun.
One other financial thing got sorted today. The banking arrangements for my planned eBay hobby shop were approved and clicked into place. So now I have the basic eBay account, a PayPal account and a new bank account, all ready and waiting. I need to coordinate them, so that the thing will run smoothly when it gets going, but that’s relatively simple and should not take long.
I’m looking forward to scouring the boot sales and flea market stores to build up a starting stock which, added to the few bits and pieces I have set aside from my own small collection, will be on the ‘shelves’ when I open. I’m in no hurry. It’s still a little hot and horrid to go car booting, and I had planned all along not to start until the end of the grockle season, when the stall holders generally have a clearance at winter prices.
I still don’t have a name for the shop. I’d originally thought of calling it “Old Grey Poet’s Pots” but I’m going to have to do something better and more original than that. I’ll be concentrating on English tea-table ware, at least to start with, so the name needs to express that. Just so long as it’s not too twee.
Obviously, I’m not in it for the money. I’m far too much of a dilettante to believe that the stories people tell of making a fortune on eBay apply to me. My main reason for doing it is because it’ll give me all the excuse I need to maintain a shelf or two of the kind of porcelain I really enjoy. I’m hoping it’ll generate enough pin money to be a self-financing hobby as I explore the field of English porcelain, that’s all. And it’ll be fun.
I’m planning to include a small ‘haiku card’ with each sale, as a personal thank you. Just a modest little craft card with a photograph and a haiku, signed. That’ll be a lot of fun, too, even without the chinaware.
Hey ho. You gotta have a dream, as the lady said.