On the morning we were due to depart from Compton, Mika wasn't well and her parents were sufficiently concerned to find a pharmacist, who in turn suggested they see a doctor. The nearest surgery that would accept her was a mile or two away but a couple who had been waiting at the chemist's offered to take them in their car.
In the meantime, I was trying to telephone the Nationwide Building Society - as I had been asked to do - to transfer the money to pay for our new house, which had to be done before noon. No signal on the towpath and too noisy on the bridge - but there was the perfect place - a phone box! Once inside the phone box I decided I might as well use it. I don't know how long it is since you used one, but the minimum fee is now 60p. I had 55p and a pound coin. Given the amount of money I was trying to spend I was happy to insert the £1 but the coin box would only accept 50s, 20s and 10s. So, into the shop nearby to get a paper and back to the box with the requisite coinage. Now I found that the box was in fact out of order and available for emergencies only!
So - back to the mobile: the usual voice mail response - press 1 for this, 2 for that and 3 for the other, followed by music - punctuated by recorded announcements telling me how important my call was to them (but not, you understand, important enough for them to actually employ enough staff to answer it). Finally, after 14 minutes I got through to a human being who informed me that it was completely impossible to make the transfer over the phone and that I was silly to even think it could be done (he didn't actually say that in fairness). I would have to find a branch and conduct the transfer there.
After a few Victor Meldrew moments I was resigned to a bus ride into Wolverhampton city centre and returned to the boat just in time to find Mandy and Mika about to depart for the surgery with our guardian angels. "I don't suppose you know where the Nationwide office is in Wolverhampton?" I asked. "Oh, we never go to Wolverhampton, he replied, but I think there is a branch about half-a-mile away - hop in, I'll take you there!"
So the upshot was I got to the branch just in time to transfer the cash (and had it confirmed again that it was a laughable idea to think about doing it over the phone) and Mika returned from the doctor's with some appropriate medicine and we were soon on our way - only two hours down on the schedule.
Unfortunately that late running meant we were unable to do more than wave at Lesley from Caxton as we passed at Wheaton Aston and I hope she heard our explanation why we couldn't stop. That's the second time I've done that to her -we've been reading each other's blogs for a few years - one day we'll meet and have a chat, honest!