If I'm going to get a telephone call at work from my bank, I'd sooner it was a machine at the other end than one of those chummy humanoids who insist on giving me their first name and asking after my wellbeing. Yesterday I got a call from a machine with an automated female voice. She didn't tell me her first name but amusingly pronounced mine as 'Nidgle'. When I'd pressed various buttons to confirm that I was indeed this person, the automated voice read out a string of figures relating to blocked transactions attempted on my bank card somewhere in Panama. More button pressing led me eventually to a human, who turned out to be a sensible woman with no desire to share her first name or ask after my state of health, with whom I soon sorted things out. I've absolutely no idea how some version of my bank card (still reassuringly present in my wallet) should end up being abused in Panama, but that's the modern world for you. Endlessly mystifying.
Getting off the homeward train last night, I stepped straight into torrential, monsoon-style rain, coming down in sheets. As I strode away from the station, I found I'd been joined under my large umbrella by a cheery young lady of Chinese origin who happened to be going my way. She was visiting from Oxford, where she was studying for a PhD in mathematics. She already had a Masters, and her employers (in the City) were subsidising her PhD. Clearly a bright spark then - and she was a violinist, on her way to see a musician friend. The time passed agreeably enough under my umbrella (cue Hollies song). At the high street, our ways parted and she skipped off into the rain. By the time I got home I was soaked to the skin, the wake from a passing car having thoroughly finished the job. This morning there was a large garden snail asleep on the front door. On the inside.