Very Top Five... Newspaper Comments (Day 3 of 5): Guardian

Wednesday, 16 December 2009
The Guardian newspaper is read by the sort of person who knows what a chiffon is, and who has ever eaten something at a restaurant that has the word ‘tartlet’ in its description, and so they consider themselves quite cultured and important

Yesterday this paper ran an article reporting that a vote is being taken by banks on whether to phase out cheques, and the middle classes responded in a tidal wave of indignance (it’s something the middle classes do so well.)

Most of these were along the lines of “It just won’t do at all, you know, how am I supposed to pay for my chiffons and tartlets?” but others went one step further:

5. 16 Dec 2009, 9:35AM by Napeg
“Speaking on behalf of the 6+ million senior citizens who may not be able to access electronic means of communication, the least one can hope for is that the final date for stopping written cheques will wait until these people have all "passed on " . It is very easy to become self centred in these matters.”

We are privileged; Napeg represents over six million senior citizens, by his own admission, and he has deigned to grace the Guardian comments’ board with his presence despite the fact that speaking on behalf of all those people must surely be a very busy job.

Then he adds his hope that all those he represents will have died by the time cheques go out of use. He does use a euphemism here, in some cheeky little quotation marks to show us that he is indeed using "a euphemistic expression." Thanks for flagging that up, otherwise I would have been confused.

Then the mysterious phrase: “It is very easy to become self centred in these matters.”

Is Napeg referring to the banks for not considering anything other than financial issues, or is he referring to himself for self-centredly assuming command of the Voice of The Elderly? We may never know.

4. 15 Dec 2009, 5:55PM by Bauhaus
“Pay cash everytime, dont let the buggers profile you by your spending.”

Nice ambiguity in the use of “buggers” here, Bauhaus. And a smidge of the paranoid is always to be expected in internet comment boards.

3. 15 Dec 2009, 6:10PM by decisivemoment
“I'm curious as to how people are going to pay rent. Or get gifts from their relatives, especially those that aren't online.”

How can people get gifts from their relatives? Well, maybe they can put a bit of thought into the gift and give actual things instead of money, those lazy grannies. You might say that perhaps granny doesn’t know what you’d like, so that’s why she gives you money. Then why don’t you visit granny more often, Mr decisivemoment, so she knows more about you?

Getting rid of cheques is a great step forward for learning how to empathise with people, clearly.

2. 16 Dec 2009, 8:45AM by grumpynurse
“c'mon you lot cheques are rubbish. anyone who has a bank account - i.e. anyone who can pay a cheque into an account from which they may then obtain the funds - can also accept payment electronically. it's also a pain in the arse trying to find my chequebook on the two occasions a year i need it because someone can't be bothered to look up their account details. good riddance.”

So, the crux of grumpynurse’s argument is that “cheques are rubbish because I can’t remember where my chequebook is” and, also, that no-one would use them if it they weren’t so lazy.

Clearly we should get rid of them and stop being so lazy.

1. 15 Dec 2009, 5:56PM by Erdington
“If the banks want it then I am against it.

If you do not have a computer connected to the internet, how will you make payments for say your electricity bill? Oh yes it will automatically be deducted from your bank account, but if the bill is incorrect, just imagine the gargantuan task of refuting it. When you phone to complain you will have to endure a ring a roses with a computer generated voice. Press one to go back to the beginning. If you are lucky you will be able to talk to a "live" representative in India after you have been kept on hold for thirty minutes.”

Ah, starting off with the good old “if THEY want it then it must be a terrible idea regardless of the details” argument.

Erdington then lays out a reasonable argument, suggesting that cheques save a great deal of potential hassle with your bank. But then rather ruins it by using inverted commas in the phrase; “talk to a “live” representative in India,” suggesting that he believes that these people are only alive in the most basic, cursory way. Is this racist? I can’t tell, as the concept of attributing different levels of vitality to different groups of people is a new one by me. (I think it probably is racist though.)