Santander, a globally successful bank, has asked its shareholders to support two UK based charities which draw attention to older people's alienation and young people's deprivation





My dear, departed Mum gave me some Abbey National shares. Abbey National succumbed to temptation and was seduced by Santander. Santander now boom-booms in many parts of the world but is especially adept at it in Spain

      The unbelievable quote "One million older people..." can be found in the Shareholder Handbook for the company's Annual General Meeting of Shareholders 2016 and its author is a charity thrifting an' thriving in the U of K; the charity calls itself "Age UK" and mottoes : "Love later life" after which it goes for the goolies and tells us one million (yes, 1,000,000) older people (that's older not old) spend a month in silence. "Love later life" indeed. And that's "later" not "late".

      The fact that one million people remain silent in later life is not in itself such a bad idea given most of us shoot off about any number of topics we know next to nothing about; for example, we shoot off about evil Muslims or life in Iceland or Cambodia's natural resources or why Emily got a heart-attack and Phillis didn't but none the less that seven-figure statistic is just a bit grim. I know there's no fool like an old fool (I'm 65 this May) but to leave us in silence for a month...? Why , that's almost like a prison sentence with solitary confinement thrown in for good measure!

      It gets me thinking about Mum and Dad and how they got largely ignored in their later years. It gets me thinking about why thousands and thousands of older men prefer Pattaya to Portsmouth, and of course it gets me thinking about that largely unread novel* which abuses all those who wish for old men to live “castrated” in their lonely but politically correct rooms. It's worse than that! We also have to live in fear of being hung, drawn and quartered for an assortment of other crimes apart from talking to a child or a young woman. A glance of appreciation at a twenty-year-old's rear is not the safest of actions in the UK. And it goes on and gets worse — our list of crimes.

      Here, in Pattaya, I occasionally choose not to go out because I am always getting spoken to. And worse. If I venture into a bar, I get sat upon and played upon and bored upon and you-name-it upon. Yes, there is no shortage of talkative, female company in Thailand and especially in Pattaya. Blame it on the rice diet. Blame it on Thai men loving to live more dangerously than women, thereinafter joining the accident statistics. Blame it on whatever you will but girls and women there are in Thailand, and what's more they're approachable, sometimes nice, and occasionally charming. And as for children! I am well known down my local swimming pool and I get to speak to children and mess a bit every time I dip the dip. Mess? Yes, last time I held a board while a child swam against me. And we both had a grin.

      Now, Mum's fate and Dad's fate and lots of old people's fates are a symptom of a malaise, but just suppose I can ”prove” by suggestion that that "malaise" is created by conglomerations like Santander? Wouldn't that be just something! I'm going to be ever so uncharitable and I'm going to go for the jugular and while about it the goolies, the softies, the short and curlies, the you-name-it-I'll-go-for-ities. Bank-ities. But before doing so, let's get this one off the old literary chest : Old people in the UK are not using their voices for communication because families are not what they were.

      Now let's begin. Remember the contention – that Santander helps old people to remain silent while supporting a charity which wants old people not to remain silent! I pick up BANCO SANTANDER, S.A. AGM 2016 VOTING INSTRUCTION FORM to see what ammunition can be extracted and put in the Finch rifle hereinafter known as the gunhobbyhorse or the hobbyhorsegun or the hobbygunhorse. Whatever. When it gets pointed at you, you cringe (something many of my readers are by now well used to doing and only because they fall into the trap of reading my bloggish posts, my pros and cons in prose!).

      There's the Santander Voting Form and it's ”for-against-or-abstain”. That's pretty easy : you like, dislike, or fail to decide. Black-white-dunno. There's my unique reference number which I won't go into but it's there to be used when voting. It's long and unique. It has two zeros, two ones and two twos, and at a pinch it could confuse an older person. There’s my Voting ID and my Task ID. In all, twenty-six digits. That’s about as long as the English alphabet. There's a dividend re-investment plan with about 17 frequently asked questions printed small which means the feeble-eyed will need a magnifying glass and a brain that can understand things like "Will Santander offer a scrip dividend alternative in the future?" There's the handbook with the board of directors, 16 in all, or so it seems. 5 are women and 11 men. They are all well qualified, some over-qualified. What's a PhD in Law doing there? There's a double-barrelled guy. He's a non-executive director and he coordinates non-executive directors so he's a lead director co-ordinating non-exec. direcs. I like him because he doesn't have a PhD in Law. He's interested in my stuff, literature, and he's got an M.A. in English Language and Literature from Sussex, ooopps, from OXFORD UNIVERSITY. I wonder how much these sixteen guys / gals make in a month, in a year. At a rough guess.........? but we're not told. And now to Sant.'s finale: 17th February 2016 "Dear Shareholder..........called on to participate......keeping with our Simple, Personal and Fair culture...very important...copies of all supporting documents......" That "simple, personal and fair" has every adjective as a proper noun and is printed red into its singled-out bargain.

      Is it therefore dastardly of me to conclude that old people are already on the side here, and if they have age-related problems, even more so, and even if they don't and are up and running like me, maybe they are nearer to Camus' "L'Etranger", "The Outsider", than Camus' opposite, "The Insider", and even back in their good old working days maybe they were not a great part of Santander's well-paid meritocracy? Which leads me to wonder whether highly successful global banks (and highly successful global businesses and highly successful global economies) really want to speak to old people.

      But let's cheer ourselves up! The other charity each valid vote supports is Barnardo's (“Believe in children”). That's better. No old fuddy duddies to worry about, just the most vulnerable, the most neglected, and the most at-risk children and young Britain, not in Africa, not in south America, not in Asia. It then gets better : 25p for each vote made online / 15p for each postal vote. (I suppose the envelope costs Santander a bit more than the internet connection.)

      Oh, I forgot to calculate how much the directors might get, but the sum will be "Simple, Personal and Fair".

      When Abbey National was Abbey National it was very British. Now that it is Santander it is not Spanish in Britain. It is still British. Its individuals are very "low-key", well-heeled, well-uniformed, efficiency-driven employees. It supported and supports all the reasons why old people are relatively silent. I list them again : the changes in families, mobility, meritocracy, higher-education qualifications, non-discrimination in the work-place (thereby enabling mums and dads to do tiring, stressful, full-time jobs), materialism, discrimination in super wage-structures for the more and the less super successful, the work-ethic, incomprehensible and incredible information-and-internet explosions, activity and youth rather than passivity and age. 

      "Crabbed Age and Youth / Cannot live together:"

      Ah, yes.

      And so I leave you. It's early morning but boy does this blog-head need a drink!


* "Collected Selected Words" by yours truly Jonathan Finch ( in which a soon-to-retire fugitive contemplates too much company, especially too much female company.




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