Sunday, May 25, 2008

Let’s get knitting out of the way first, because there won’t be much of it.

I’m shaping the toe of Cathy’s first sock. Told you she has small feet…

And today is scarf-Sunday. Might I decide it’s long enough to cast off? A happy prospect! I didn’t get dinosaur yarns ordered, although I got as far as the Rowan Superwash DK page on somebody’s website – I hope I’ll be able to find it again. There is a good range.

Yesterday in K*rkmichael

I had a good day. The sun shone, almost tee-shirt weather. I bested a lot of weeds. Three of the courgettes are flourishing, the fourth, I think, has lost the fight. Nature is odd that way. I planted three seeds at each of four other stations in mid-May as usual, so if the Worst Happens there should be something to transplant into that spot.

And two of the kinds of seeds I planted a week ago have come up already – I didn’t spot them at first, but microscopic examination revealed both Cima di Rapa Sessantina (from Seeds of Italy) and orach (from Real Seeds). Orach is also called mountain spinach, and I’ve never heard of it. I can’t imagine why I ordered it. I’m looking forward to it keenly.

Spinach and lettuce from April sowings are coming forward nicely.

As I toiled, a neighbour walked by with her dog, and I leapt to my feet. It was C., the widow whose husband’s funeral I went to on April 1. I hadn’t seen her since.

She has had seven thousand pounds or so fraudulently removed from her current account in the last few days, and is visibly distressed. Who wouldn’t be? I’ve heard too many of these stories lately – C’s tale was the second for last week. The bank in question this time, Lloyds TSB, has been prompt and human and reassuring. That is not always the case.

Not card fraud: four cheques were presented, each for a large sum, and apparently from C.’s chequebook: they were printed with her name and account number, and the bank sort code. She has seen a facsimile of one of them: the signature is a crude forgery, but a forgery made by someone, she thinks, who has seen her signature.

The police seem to know about this sort of thing. They’re called “ghosts”, cheques like that. It is (not impossible but) hard to see how it could happen without help from someone within the bank. Cancelled cheques aren’t returned to the account-holder any more in Britain. And the bad guys may have known how much she had in the account – they left something there, and might not have been detected for quite a while if she had been less alert. Did they pick her in the first place because she had an unusual amount in her current account?

The bank (as always in my experience of such cases) is adamant that no employee of theirs could be involved. I trust they conduct enquires of their own on the quiet.


  1. Anonymous12:17 PM

    I really like to hear of your garden. I often think it would be a lot easier if people developed recipes for weeds. However, the farmer in each of us probably needs to conquer nature. Very sorry for your neighbour. Of course, we all worry about identity theft or internet fraud and here is a case of the old fashioned variety. Hope things resolve themselves.

  2. I had a checkbook stolen and although the banks are responsible for bad checks, the work involved on my part with affadavits of forgery and letter writing was interminable. Sorry your friend has to go thru, and during such a hard time. Curious about orach, I found this: "Another common use of orach is to balance out the acidic flavor of sorrel"

  3. I'm so sorry about your neighbor. In the US, I haven't (personally) seen cases where fake checks are printed - I think because personal checks are numbered, unless it's a new account and the individual is waiting for their non-temporary checks.

    The typical case I see is one of 2 situations. First situation is when people put outgoing mail in their mailbox at their home for the mailman to pick up. This is a very unsafe practice. A good thief knows when the mailman make his deliveries, so they steal the mail. I've learned to always take my mail to a US post office mailbox or post office.

    The other situation is when strangers are in a person's home or have access to their purse (like a woman who left her purse in her car while her car was being washed at a local carwash. The Stranger gets access somehow to a check book and steals checks from it - usually towards the bottom of the checkbook so it is not immediately noticeable.

    The other safety hint is to always cover up your credit card numbers when using your card or covering up you check as much as possible when writing a check in public. With all cell phones having cameras now, it is very easy for someone standing in line next to you to take a picture of you credit card or check while your dealing with the transaction with the clerk/salesperson. Same thing with using a credit card or phone card at a public phone booth. Use your body to hide not only your card, but also what numbers you're pushing on the telephone.

    And NEVER throw out anything that has any personal information on it - one should have a paper shredder - small ones are affordable.

    Here endeth the sermon. Sad that we have to be so vigilant.

  4. Anonymous11:21 PM

    A friend of mine had her bank account electronically emptied one day- $3000, suddenly gone. She had never given anyone her debit card #, and she had never lost it or anything, but the money was gone.... The bank replaced it pretty quickly, and traced the computers used to steal it to Russia..... but that was it. Scary eh?

  5. poor Mrs C. Just what she doesn't need at this point in time. Cheques are pretty easy to access for the purposes of forgery and there are so many points to access them. I avoid using cheques like the plague for this very reason and keep all my money OUT of my chequing acct until I've written a cheque and then only transferring the specific amount. Online banking has it's own levels of nervousness as well. It's a weird world we live in. I'm starting to like the idea of a sock under the bed...

    Glad the garden is going well. I appear to have some self sown spinach in one of my pots. Weird. No idea how these seeds could have gotten there. I thought that it may have been some self-sown rocket but defintely spinach, which answers my question about whether spinach would grow in a pot!

  6. money situation so distressing to read about, and esp. for elderly folks, too. We watch our accounts like hawks though.

    Nice to know your garden is coming along -- we actually got our plants out of the windowsills (from seed) and in the ground, and they somehow survived the first huge rain and wind storm.