Latitude, attitude: Part 1

With Glastonbury taking a year off, Latitude was an easy choice this year. After last year’s rain, it was bound to be sunny in 2012, right? We bought pre-sale cheap(er) tickets in October and were well chuffed when Elbow were announced as headliners.

42/365 20120712First BeerThursday was sunny. We set up camp and waited for Latitude to open so we could get a beer.

It started raining around 11pm, and there wasn’t much on so we retired around 11:45. None too soon, because it absolutely tipped it down and earplugs, always useful when sleeping at festivals, became a necessity to deaden the sound of rain on canvas.  I woke up at 3:45 to turn over (I hate sleeping bags) and noticed that the inner door on the tent was open. I had this ridiculous idea that Wen might have opened it because she was too hot, but she said it wasn’t her. I looked outside and the side door to the tent was open too. Waking up a little, I saw something on the floor: my trousers, which had been next to me in the inner tent. The wallet in my pocket was gone.

Robbed! Professionally, too – on the first night when we had all our money for beer and food for the weekend. They didn’t take my phone or Wen’s purse, so we started testing the various credit and bank cards out-of-hours stolen card support lines. (Winner: the police lady on “101” who fished her Barclaycard out of her own bag to read us the number; Loser: Barclaycard, who asked three times for the card number from a dodgy line to an Indian call centre. I don’t know – it’s been stolen!)

Coffee and TeaI got a call on my mobile in the morning from a bloke just a few tents away (the flag was useful again) who had found my wallet. All the credit cards were still inside. But worthless. We only had enough money for one day’s food and beer.

Luckily, Tim was coming to Latitude, but not until Friday afternoon. We called him at work and asked to borrow £150. We might eat yet! And it had almost stopped raining. Time for a nice cuppa before we popped into the arena and into the Comedy Tent and the Finalists for the Chortle Student Comedy Awards, who were surprisingly good.

The rest of the day we saw LLoyd Cole, Punch Brothers, The Antlers, Mark Watson, Janelle Monáe, Lana Del Ray, Metronomy, White Lies and John Hegley.
Lloyd ColePunch BrothersThe AntlersMark Watson43/365 20120713Lana Del RayMetronomyWhite LiesJohn Hegley
And in the afternoon we met Tim who lent us enough money to eat and drink like kings.

Banks. Security. Will they ever get a clue?

Against my better judgement, but somewhat inevitably given my levels of laziness and inertia, I now have two Barclaycards. They bought Egg and so bought me as well. This has kept me entertained on and off via several low-level email complaints (about their ridiculous security, the ill-planned migration of accounts which meant I had two different on-line sign-ins for a while, the misleading email warning of an impending payment when I have a Direct Debit to pay in full every time).

Lately I mentioned that their monthly payment email is useless, because it only tells me the minimum payment and suggests that I could set up a Direct Debit. I suggested that telling me the actual amount, and that it would automatically be paid, might be more useful. They replied that “Security Protocols” prevented them from putting that information in an email. I said in that case that there seemed little point in sending it.

This seems to have irritated them, as they called me on my mobile this morning at 08:54. From a BLOCKED number. A guy with an Indian accent* said he was from Barclays and could he ask me some security questions.

He seemed surprised when I said no. (I’ve already been through this with Egg, but at least they sent the phone number which matched the one on their website. Sadly, that can easily be spoofed but it’s better than nothing.) They have a “Security Protocol” which stops them putting my current bill in an email, but expects me to give away my account access to random blocked callers? I despair.

*I only mention the Indian accent because all the spam callers also have them, thus making it inherently suspicious.

Angry and Sick

I’m not angry at the LibDems (well, not all of them). They’ve been played by the conservatives, and played very effectively. Nobody appears to be blaming the Tories for privatising our universities even though they’ve done it. I am angry at the millionaires who had a free university education now stealing that from my grandchildren. The millionaires and their friends who are giving each other tax cuts, taking ridiculous pensions, awarding dividends and bonuses to their wives who live in tax havens, pretending that Cadbury’s is a Swiss company to save £200 million pounds a year, etc, etc.

I’m angry at the inequity and hypocrisy of it.

They can do it because the free market in financial services, which they created, screwed us all and whilst they are wringing their hands about how the country can’t sustain the debt they insist that it is perfectly fine for all future students to start life with even greater debts. “Because they pay nothing up front,” says the man who never had to save for anything, as if that makes it OK.

They can do it because the stupid press, instead of reporting the destruction of our future, leads with a story about an aged adulterer on a night out in the town who gets a little paint spilled on his armoured car.

I am old enough to have had a free university education. It benefits me, but it also benefits the country – if I earn more I pay more tax, spend more money, create more jobs. What next in this “learn to earn” mentality? What about those people with A levels? Shouldn’t they pay? What about those people who can read and write? What about those sick people, scrounging off us healthy people?

When I first heard what these bastards were doing to university funding, that the coalition government was going to force it through parliament with 5 hours of debate, I actually physically felt it – a sickening fall in my stomach as this country turned into a nastier place.

A Little Egg on Face

I spoke to Egg, and they do appear to have thought about it a little after all.

The primary account holder has to sign up to their blame-shifting scheme first, and apparently the secondary account holder can then set up another password. I say “apparently” because this has yet to be tested. In this case the secondary account holder signed up first. In order for the primary account holder (me) to sign up first, the secondary account holder (Wen) has to first de-register, and then re-register after the primary account holder has registered.

If this works, I might then try de-registering myself and see if I can continue to get away with not signing up to their evil one-sided conditions, leaving Wen to wallow alone in implied fraudulent complicity should anyone at the bank steal anything.

And to put a ribbon on it, my NatWest Maestro cashcard is now a Visa debit card, and is afflicted by Verified by Visa as well.

Verified by SecureCode My Arse

Despite prolific online shopping, I had so far managed to avoid using the stupid and useless phishing magnet which is known as Verified By Visa or Mastercard Securecode. I’ve done this by pretending to use it and then cancelling it at the last. This has always worked.

Wen has less patience than me, so last time she used it she caved and registered.

Today I tried to buy something from Tesco, and up popped the Mastercard Securecode (or was it? who can tell as it is a separate window from another website – the very thing that we are taught never to trust when online) with the username filled in as MSWLAW. Clearly this isn’t me. I had just told Tesco that the name on the card was D Law.

This has happened because we have two cards on the same account, which have the same number. Egg clearly haven’t thought this through at all.

The terms and conditions of Mastercard Securecode are very strict. You are not allowed to write it down even though it must be 7 characters long and include at least 2 numbers. (So what will people do? Choose something obvious and easy to remember, of course.) More pertinently, you are not allowed to tell anyone. So I can not now use my credit card, because Wen has registered, and is forbidden to tell me her password. I rang Tesco: they said it was “the law” made by Mastercard and Visa and I must call my card issuer. I rang Egg, but the normal helpline shuts at 3pm on Saturday. What a surprise that I should shop online outside working hours!

I have another credit card, which is now registered in my name and Wen won’t be able to use that card online.

And yet, I have no idea why adding another password makes this in any sense “safer”. I suspect that what it does do is make it much more likely that any fraudulent use of my card will be blamed on me, because I must have told someone my password.

Gits. More on Moday when I’ve spoken to them.


We went into Cambridge early yesterday for eye tests. I have at least another year without specs, although I am now a little short-sighted. Wen has plumped for some varifocals and prescription sunglasses. Some part of that was free, but it still ended up over £600.

Then we met Donna for lunch, did a little clothes shopping in John Lewis, and went up to Ryman’s for a scrapbook.

When we got back to the car less than 5 hours later, we discovered that Cambridge County Council demanded SEVENTEEN POUNDS before they would let us leave. SEVENTEEN POUNDS!

Insurance Time Travel

This hurts my head.

Apparently, my car insurance renewal notification got lost in the post. Prompted by Wen, I finally decided to check last night and discovered that last year’s insurance ran out on the 6th. Oops! I quickly went online and insured myself with Directline (the interwebs never sleeps).

This morning I rang Egg (for it was they) to find out why they hadn’t sent my renewal notice. They said they did, in August. Another mystery. However, having not heard from me, they had automatically renewed my insurance and the certificate was already in the post. I asked how much, and it was a lot more than Directline, so I declined.

“Fair enough,” they said. “We will cancel it and refund the payment.”

So, even though I thought I wasn’t insured, I was – but now that I have cancelled it, I wasn’t. Ebbeh.

Less Intuit

So, Microsoft Money it is. Intuit did refund my money, a day after I sent the email. They just didn’t tell me, and what with the Egg website playing up as well, I couldn’t check.

MS Money is much better than Quicken 2000. Whether it is better than Quicken 2004 I’ll never know, because of the short-sightedness of their upgrade policy.

More Intuit

It got worse.

I uninstalled Quicken 2004, re-installed Quicken 2000 and tried to open the data file. Quicken validated the data, and then refused to open it. Apparently Q2000 cannot read Q2004 data files. Ha!

Off to Microsoft, where there is a free trial of Microsoft Money. (I originally picked Quicken because, back in 1999, Money had no concept of Standing Orders or Direct Debits. How Americans put up with their banks is a mystery.) A surprisingly similar 30Mb later, and “Guess What?” Money can open Q2004 data files. Not perfect, but close enough. And Standing Orders/Direct Debits are now handled. Only £22 including postage from eBuyer.

Intuit, to their credit (-:, offer a 90 day refund. They had come across my problem, and the solution is to upgrade to Quicken Investor (for another £11). I don’t want investment help, I only have some old Bradford & Bingley shares in the Quicken data. I suggested that a better upgrade path might have been to allow me to open my file but just discard the shares.