Thursday, February 25, 2010
There was a time when I was a lad, running wild through the fields of Durham, building dams and shooting at birds – with no success – that my father was paid cash in a small brown envelope with holes in it, each week. I don’t know at what point it happened, probably in the sixties, that his money came into his bank account. He never disclosed what he was paid to my mother in either case. She was given her house-keeping and a bit extra for clothes if she asked for it. I became a student and my first student grants were in the form of postal orders and it was when I started teaching in 1963 that I had my first bank account. At the time the bank was another version of the counter at the post office. It was irritating to discover that I had to have a bank account and that my wages went into it and the bank charged me for the pleasure.
The gun I used in those early days was, I think, a Webley slug gun. It was black and cold metal. To cock it you had to press the inner barrel on something hard so that it retracted. When you fired the inner barrel jumped out and the slug sped away.
It never occurred to me to stick up a bank, even in play, although I was a gunslinger some of the time.
Reading the news on the internet, I see that there is an outlaw, based in Britain, who is robbing banks in Latvia. Using twitter, he is disclosing more and more information on bankers to the Latvian public, showing how they have been receiving government bail-outs but meanwhile, living it large and pretending they have been taking cuts to their salaries. Where once I was a tracker, hunting my prey physically through hill and dale, this fellow is a hacker, hunting his prey virtually through data mountains.
He is being chased by Latvian police. What he is doing is illegal. The bankers are versions of my father. They don’t want their power and authority undermined by people knowing what’s inside their accounts or their little brown envelopes with holes.