Mother Fluker

A Migrant Mother's Musings

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Moving on

It's been hard to find time to write recently as we are finally in the throes of moving house. For the next few days we are officially no longer owner-occupiers of anywhere on the planet, having disposed of the Glasgow flat officially last Friday and not taking possession of the new house until this Thursday. In recent weeks there has been the usual frenzy of packing, cleaning and admin to be done plus all the residual stuff that is involved with entertaining a 20-month old. I am wondering how H will take to the move. Having been late with walking, teething, doing quadratic equations, etc in comparison to his peers, his one startling talent is that whenever I am driving back to the (current) house, from whichever direction and no matter how long the journey has been, he starts loudly announcing "Home!" when we are a hundred metres or so away. He is absolutely consistent with this and has been doing it for several months now. It's like having toddler satellite navigation in the back seat. This is something he definitely has inherited from D, who has great spatial awareness and can remember how to get from A to B in any city he has visited even once before decades earlier. Spooky. I wonder how long it will take H to reprogram himself to the coordinates of our new house? How long will it be before he forgets all about where we live now?

It's odd to think that in the long term H will have no memories at all of the time we have spent in this house and all the things we have done while living here. His first memories will almost certainly be associated with the new house though, and I can't wait for us all to be settled in.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Bye Bye Mudlark

This week I said goodbye to my little Mudlark, as he became a Magpie. Yes, H has graduated out of the baby room at Daycare and into the 2-3 year-old room at the precocious age of 20 months. Actually I think this is indicative not so much of advanced intelligence and ability on H's part but the simple fact that there are now quite a few little sit-on-the-floor type babies (was H ever like that? Surely not!) in the babies' room that it must be a real nuisance to have the older mobile ones rampaging round the room knocking them over.

Several of H's little mates and his girlfriend are due to move up about the same time, so he will not I hope be too disoriented. In fact he has apparently been trying to loiter in the older kids' room for a while on his way back from the garden in the afternoons, no doubt having sussed out that there are bigger and better toys in there.

I feel strangely emotional about this little milestone. God knows what I'll be like when he goes to kindy.

Australian banks...

...are unbelievably crap.

I have never in my life had such appalling problems with banks than since I have lived in Australia. Not only was there the shock of having to pay for everyday banking services (in the UK if your account is in credit this is not usual), but the double indignation that even then they still stuff up the services you are paying for. Plus, standard practice here is to be charged even more than ordinary banking fees for the huge luxury of having a chequebook (which means you have to pay stamp duty not only on cheques, but also on every EFTPOS transaction as apparently, the banks' systems cannot distinguish between the two - yeah, right). And as for anything more complicated, like resolving why H's interest-bearing account had had no interest paid to it, forget it. I had to make three visits to the bank, including one to take in original statements as they couldn't see further back than 3 months on their computer screens, chase them by telephone half a dozen times, and then when they finally admitted they were wrong, a miscellaneous credit appeared in his account with not so much as an explanation, still less an apology, or anything in writing. At one stage the person who was dealing with it simply disappeared on holiday, without having handed over anything to anyone else. I asked who was dealing with her ongoing business, a concept clearly alien to the branch. 'I suppose I could go and look through her tray...' one of her colleagues eventually suggested when it became clear that I was not prepared to wait another 3 weeks until she returned from Mauritius. That little debacle was with ANZ, who worryingly have won the best bank in Australia award.

Commonwealth are no better. Having spent an inordinate amount of time and effort trying to resolve a mess concerning our new mortgage with them, which included them debiting tens of thousands of dollars wrongly and then bombarding us with threatening letters and further charges, I finally received a phone call last week admitting that the situation was entirely their fault and promising that the affected accounts would have all transactions reversed by the end of last week.

First thing this morning I looked at the account on the internet, and surprise surprise, only one account had been corrected. I left a short message on the mobile answer service of Andrew S, the person who called me last week, in which I asked him to call me urgently. Two hours later I get a call from 'Irene at Commonwealth'. I enquired whether she was calling on behalf of Andrew S. Plainly puzzled, she had clearly never heard of him, but was interested in pursuing her 'courtesy call', the purpose of which was to sell me a Commonwealth mortgage.

What more can one expect from an organisation which plainly and unapologetically states in its questions-and-answers leaflet that it will take up to 2 months, yes, that's two MONTHS, for a change-of-address notification to take effect? And it was the Commonwealth who, when a hacking incident affected a number of online accounts recently, including that of my friend Suzanne, (nothing at all to do with any lapse of security on her part), simply froze all her accounts and assets for over three weeks until they sorted it out, leaving her dependent on loans from friends and family to pay all her bills. No apology, no compensation.

Banks in Australia made record profits last year. Of course they did. And if anyone can recommend an Australian bank that isn't as bad as all the others, please tell me.