This week I got a letter from Barrow town hall telling me that I have to renew my Criminal Records Bureau check. For this doubtful privilege I had to fill in a form and pay them the monstrous sum of £36.
Ah well no problem I thought this should take all of ten minutes or so. But as I started to fill in the form I found myself getting more and more annoyed. OK name address etc, fair enough, but they then ask for my mothers maiden name, my bank account details and then the name and address and personal details of an independent referee of "good standing." What's that all about then? I of course totally ignored all of this.
When I went into the town hall with my required photo ID and proof of address (they suggest a bank statement darn cheek) and the required fee I was met by what they call a "floorwalker." After I had explained my business I was given what looked like a lottery ticket and herded amongst a restless waiting crowd.
An eerie electronic voice sounding like a bingo caller on Valium occasionally called a number and one of the herd went to meet its fate. After what seemed like hours my lucky number was called and I went to the numbered desk.
After much tutting and head shaking I was told that someone higher up would have to check out my incomplete form.
But first I would have to get another ticket of the street, err no sorry floorwalker and wait for the doped up bingo caller to call me again.
Much later a suit appeared from the bowels of the town hall and agreed that I didn't have to fill in the full form after all. Great I thought this is it at last, but no it was another ticket off the streetwalker and more waiting for the demented bingo caller. Much later I reached the desk and was asked” how would you like to pay please sir.” Smiling with relief I pulled a handful of grubby notes from my pocket and dropped them on the desk. The "cashier" looked down in horror at the cash and then back at me as if I was a fool and said "we don't take cash here Sir!"