Several of the figures in my bank statement don’t make sense. I trace them across several pages to confirm that they are recurring regularly.
“What’s this fee about?” I ask my new financial adviser.
He runs a finger down the debits column and nods. “That would be tax.”
“I don’t remember setting up a direct debit to the tax man.”
“You won’t have. It’s just included in your banking fees.”
“How does that work?”
“Do you remember the bail outs? You left the country after those had begun?”
“Yes. So, the government owns the banks?”
“A controlling interest. They decided it would be easier to tax people from their bank accounts than by traditional methods. Especially with all the local currencies that have started up.”
I check the numbers again. “I’ve only just found out about this and I think it can go wrong in so many ways.”
“Tell me about it. It only affects people who keep their money in a bank. So there are a lot of over stuffed mattresses out there. However, most of the local currencies are still given to volatility, and hoarding is a great way to destabilise one. So it’s in your best interests to exchange your scripts and bank them after a while.”
“I guess it’s too hard setting up a foreign bank account at the moment to make that a worthwhile tax dodge.”
“As you are finding out as you jump through the hoops to make a currency transfer from abroad. How is that going, by the way?”
“It’ll happen a lot faster when I have a confirmed British account to pay into. What are they holding it up for now?”
“They want more details of your activities during the, ah, recent unpleasantness. They may yet demand biometric data. If they do, refuse. That system was compromised before it even went live.”
“I don’t think they ever got that information off me anyway. What’s this all in aid of? Are they scared I’ll turn out to be some sort of fifth columnist?”
“They are. Or a war criminal using a stolen identity. Or a common criminal escaping from the continent. You are none of these things, I hope. It would do great harm to my reputation to be caught working for the wrong type of person.”
“I’m one of the good guys, honest.” I fact, I was co-opted as an agent of the British government during the recent unpleasantness. Of course, communication was one way and I have no idea how I could get in touch with my handlers for whatever passes as a reference. So I’m stuck in this protracted legal battle to get my own money back.
“Do they just not want to give me back my money?” I have to ask, “It’s not a huge amount, but each account they can keep frozen is a bit more money for them.”
“That’s a commonly held belief. I doubt it is a conspiracy theory but a true conspiracy. Or as near as the bumblers in the Inland Revenue can get to a conspiracy anyway. I have dealt with a lot of frozen bank accounts in the last few years and they always pay out in the end. Do you think you can stay afloat until this is resolved?”
“I’ll find a way.”
In many ways my stock is quite high around town. I’m known to enough well connected people that I have a line of credit and promises of work. My landlady hasn’t demanded any rent yet, though she is wearing me out with payment in kind. And I still have cash in my money belt and a container full of stuff I can sell.
I can survive for a while without my bank account, but it would be nice to get it back. Amongst other things, I’m starting to get enquiries about my memoirs. Would I like to take all my posts from the war years and expand upon them for a healthy fee? Of course I would, but where would they send my advance?
How much would I put in a book about the secret war? Could I write about Sachs? The SAS men? What really happened in Apt? Or is it still too soon?
Secrets were still being revealed about the Second World War fifty or sixty years after it ended. I could hold on to mine for a while.
Reputations could be damaged because of what I could reveal. International relations could suffer. Britain is key in negotiations with the Divided States to bring America’s new civil war under control and reintroduce the country to the civilised world. Revelation of British Army involvement against American forces in Europe, despite protestations of neutrality, would likely bring the peace process to a halt.
On the other hand, someone’s going to make the revelations sooner or later. If I’m the second person to reveal covert British involvement in Europe then the value of my bombshell is greatly diminished. It’s quite a dilemma- my bank balance against peace in the former United States of America.