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Star Trek IV

On my last full day in Canada, my mission was to buy a souvenir. Eventually, after far too much walking around, I got a small glass polar bear from the Pier 21 gift shop for $56 (and I hadn’t even been round the exhibition).

Earlier, I’d taken some money out from the Bank of Montreal cash machines (the only ones I could find that accepted Mastercard; my previous card was the much more prevalent Visa, but when my bank sent me a new one the default option was this and I naively went along with it), but it turned out to be far too little, so I went back and the machine refused to give me anything. The following day, Pete, Vince and I went to see 30 Days of Night and have something to eat before dropping me at the airport. Again my card wasn’t facilitating the transfer of funds, so Pete ended up paying for me.

As we sat at Tim Hortons at the airport (I bought Pete a cup of green tea with the last of my change), Pete noticed a small avian creature flying round the departures lounge. He asked what on earth it’s doing here and I suggested, ‘Maybe it just flew in.’ Of course, I corrected myself by saying that it’s probably waiting to fly out, this being Departures.

Back in London, I found myself with eight pence in my pocket, an intransigent credit card and a four and a half hour wait to my next flight. I had £5-something in my current account, and, of course, the minimum withdrawal at any given cashpoint is a tenner. There was plenty of money in my savings account, but without any cash to pay for internet access I couldn’t transfer it across. I could have called the credit card line at that point, but how was I going to pay for the call?

The BMI flight to Manchester was on the smallest plane I’ve been on – probably less than a hundred seats in total – just three per row. As I hadn’t had a drink since the Air Canada flight, I was getting thirsty and a bit headachey; naturally, the drinks on board weren’t complimentary. At Manchester, I found myself in the same situation as I’d been at Heathrow. There wasn’t a free bus into the city as I’d been hoping (which is a pretty stupid thing to hope for in Britain … and probably anywhere).

Fortunately, when I looked at the number I had written down in the little black address book I keep in my wallet it was a free 0800 number. It wasn’t actually the _correct_ number – it was mainly for reporting lost or stolen cards – but the recorded voice recited the right number. Which was a not-so-free 0845 number. I rang the free number again and spoke to an operator; when she told me I had to ring the other number I asked her if she could tranfer me, and, when I pointed out that I had no money, she did so.

The next lady fixed my credit card. She mentioned something about me returning to the UK and them therefore not wanting to allow my card to be used if it had been stolen. This makes no sense, as it stopped working two days before I returned and I’d already told them _when_ I’d be returning. But I didn’t pursue the matter.

A brief walk to the cash machines furnished me with twenty quid. Well, no: putting my credit card into the machine and telling it I wanted £20 furnished me with said money. If only a brief walk was all it took.

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