Repent! Accept Barclays into your heart

Marx and Engels, Castro and Guevara, Mitchell and Webb. Ah, the great partnerships of leftist politics… If you don’t recognise the last pair, please allow me to say: ‘for shame!’ Not because I’m also about to shout ‘Bad socialist! Go to bed without any Red Wedge,’ but because David Mitchell and Robert Webb are names you should know. They’re the comedians behind Radio 4’s truly brilliant That Mitchell and Webb Sound (which resumed last week), BBC TV’s That Mitchell and Webb Look and of course, That Incredibly Patronising Mitchell and Webb Series of Sellout AppleMac Adverts (here’s an image: Gordon Brown and Tony Blair going ‘Hi, I’m a Mac,’ ‘And I’m incredibly PC,’).

Mitchell and Webb also starred in the uncomfortably funny Peepshow, which aired its season finale last week and their new film, Magicians, was released last week. That’s the week they also won the Bafta for best Comedy (causing several papers to use the same joke about Catherine Tate being ‘bovvered’ that her show did not win, thereby serving to highlight how unique M and W’s talent for making original jokes actually is).

While I can’t think of two more deserving individuals for all this limelight (ignoring those knuckle-whitening, face-chewing, dog-kicking, yes-they-make-me-angrying Mac ads), it’s all been a bit like Derren Brown is trying subliminally to get me to accept them into my heart as my personal Lords and Saviours. Mitchell and Webb saturation-point being very near for me, I have no choice but to base this week’s comment on the news according to their pattern.

Last Week’s That Mitchell and Webb Sound featured a brilliant sketch about a man talking to his bank about identity theft. The bank representative informs him that his identity has been stolen. The customer asks if anything else was taken. The bank says no and he says good, so the money’s all still there then? What follows is the bank manager explaining that even though the bank has given the money to the wrong people and the customer still seems to be who he is, this is not an electronic bank robbery, but an ‘identity theft’. It’s an excellent point, made better and funnier by the ensuing background bank-robbery, in which the bank employee shouts that ‘they’re stealing their identities!’ The bank-man’s comment that since its identity theft the customer is liable, whereas if it had been a bank robbery bank insurance would have covered it is telling. Particularly as last week we read and heard much news of how banks have been using ‘scare tactics’ to stop people reclaiming bank charges and the financial Ombudsman revealed that complaints about unfair bank charges have risen by 47% this year.

Now, I’ve never run a bank. (I’ve run to a few to try and do my business during their ultra helpful ‘we’re only open when you’re at work’ hours, and I have been run out of a few). And far be it from me, a sinner who regularly goes into the red and really only took his current account because the girl behind the counter smiled so sweetly, to quote Scriptures about unfair weights, usury and excessive interest, particularly at respectable pillars of our society. But let me say that hearing the BBC’s Moneybox programme a while back asking a bank representative whether a customer going into the red cost the bank anything near the £35 they would charge the customer, and refusing to accept the standard evasions, gave me a great deal of pleasure? Does that make me a bad person?

Yes. It does. I must repent, renounce Mitchell, Webb and all the other dangerous agitators like Which? and the BBC, and do the Christian thing: side with the big guys.


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