I have some sympathy with those countries that are having liquidity problems. Lines of credit disappear; current consumption is curtailed and the gold reserves are used to pay for food. My sympathy is based on the recent cancellation of the Young credit card, which has reproduced these problems on a smaller scale. (One of the cards disappeared and so the account had to be stopped.) Purchases then had to be restricted to what could be bought with the cash in hand until triple A rating was restored.
The day after the card disappeared, I rang up the company and asked for a replacement. No problem, it would be despatched to me shortly. An email then arrived from the contractor entrusted with the delivery, asking me to be at my home , equipped with my passport, for a substantial chunk of a working day. The card was registered at my London address and I am not there during the working day. If I was, the Whips and my constituents would want to know why.
So I asked for it to be delivered to my home in Hampshire, where my wife would be standing at the door, like Penelope waiting for Ulysses, with my passport in one hand and a pen to sign for the card in the other. There was a period of e-silence. Then the bad news; credit cards cannot be sent to a second residential address.
This was the time for lateral thinking. As a good Tory, I thought about competition, choice and the magic of the market-place. My credit card had come from a well known supermarket chain with at least one branch in Andover. There is another chain, also with more than one branch in Andover, who supply credit cards as well as food and who might have a more liberal policy on card delivery.
I went online to apply for one. My credit rating should be reasonable. I have had the same job for 39 years and, if the Fixed Term Parliament Bill goes through, I will have it for another 4 years, 5 months and nine days. I have lived in the same place for 13 years, and there are no county court orders outstanding or local creditors petitioning for bankruptcy. The salary of an MP, in the public domain, is three times the national average. I sent the form off and, within seconds, the reply came back.
During this time, I was told, my applications had been given careful consideration. But, on this occasion, the decision was not to extend to me the opportunity of having one of their credit cards. No adverse conclusions should be drawn from this decision, said the email – though it was difficult to see the silver lining in the cloud.
As I reflected on my misfortune of not getting one card because I lived in two places and not getting the other because a computer had decided I couldn’t afford either, the post arrived.
Without the need to produce any document, Supermarket no 1 had sent the replacement cards. We leapt into the car and drove off to buy some food before they changed their mind.