As this took me out of my usual "getting up" routine, I left my land line phone on my bedside table and so when I got a call late evening, the answer machine cut in before I could get up the stairs to get to the phone. Playing back the message, I heard a recorded voice from my credit card company which ended by telling me to ring them immediately if not sooner ! That got my attention I can tell you.
So I rang them and before speaking with a human, I had to enter my credit card number, security code and phone number before being given the usual options for where to be directed next. I picked the last option to get an agent and when she came on the line, yes you've guessed it, I had to give her my credit card number and security code. Jeezzzz. I also had to give her my mother's maiden name, my town of birth, my inside leg measurement and who I was sleeping with in June 1973. Gotta love credit card security these days.
Finally came the reason for the call from them. They wanted me to confirm that the last 3 transactions on my card were indeed mine. The 'purchase' that had triggered this enquiry was the $131 charge made the other day by the US Embassy when I'd set up my visa appointment for July. There had been transactions in sterling the day before and the day after and so my bank was simply checking to make sure everything was in order. Fine.
Moving on to this morning and at 9am my phone rang again. I'd had a bad night and had only been asleep a couple of hours and so wasn't ready for this call. It was the automated bank voice from yesterday asking me to confirm the details from my last 3 credit card transactions, the ones I'd verified last night with the 'human'. I do wonder sometimes. As part of this automated palaver, it wanted security details from me but obviously only details that could be answered by using the numbers on the phone. Names were out.
In the mix it suddenly asked me for my age next birthday. I had to think a bit and then panic set in as I thought I might be taking too long. Does that happen to you ? When on the spot, do you forget your age ? The reason I was taking a while was because in my still sleepy state I was wondering what I'd have said if the call came tomorrow morning ? My birthday !
I guess I'd just have added another year even if I knew the call came before THE EXACT TIME of my birth. I mean strictly speaking the actual anniversary should be based on the time, shouldn't it ? But we just take it from 00:01 on the day as using the time would be silly.
But back to the voice on the phone, patiently waiting in it's electronic way for me to answer.
57 I said, in a loud and proud manner. Then the reality set in. Bloody hell....57 ! When did I get so freakin' old ? After verifying my transactions and hopefully ensuring I don't get called again tomorrow, I lay back in my bed and thought of England. Well no I actually thought of being 57 tomorrow. I don't FEEL 57. Just like I didn't feel 27, 37 or 47 when they came along. At 17 I did feel 17 so maybe that's when the rot set in.
I have much to be thankful for. I have decent health and can walk miles - although I usually prefer not to. I don't owe a penny, have houses in Leeds and Florida (ohhh that sounds grand) with no mortgages, have been retired for the last 8 years and am loving the life. I'm financially rolling in it thanks to winning several foreign lotteries I didn't even enter and when Mr. Onoughu transfers my latest inheritance from the Bank of Nigeria into my account, I'll be even further along happy street.
But 57 ! I remember after my bypass surgery in 1993 I didn't think I'd still be around to see in The Millennium, never mind get to this advanced age. For decades now I've treated birthdays as just another day. Now and again I've been somewhere with friends who have made it special but mostly I've been on my own and the day has passed unmarked and I'm fine with that.
This time I've saved that package and thanks to Skype, I'll be opening it 'with' Debby tomorrow. A nice mix of the traditional and the new.
I've a long way to go before I get my message from The Queen and I don't think she'll be around to send it but we can both hope. Despite everything, I reckon I have a better chance of being here than she does.
Thank you Mr. Unnikrishnam Nair, cardiothoracic surgeon, BUPA hospital, Leeds.