Diana opened her bills finally to find a final notice for a tv licence or else a fine of £1000 she didn’t have. Worse she’s on conditional discharge, so prison looms. “Let me see it,” I required, interpreting the notice’s saying she’d still have to pay the licence as they’d rather she did than their going to all the inconvenience of acting on the threat. “Buy a licence” was my advice. She couldn’t do it till she went to the post office Monday and drew out her money. By the time she got back there wasn’t enough money to pay it and live or, basically, smoke. No change by the next Monday but she had £89 deposited for her in Lloyds that needed three days to clear.
Social workers were involved and came up with a seven point plan for Diana, first of which was taxis to take her shopping. Next, however, was the licence. They asked did she have the £1000. On finding out she did not, they would phone the licence people and come up with some sort of way for her to pay it. I pointed out from my reading what she needed to do was pay the licence in full. If that didn’t work, then they could phone. The final demand was read and interpreted as I had interpreted it. They came up, however, with an alternate solution I found scarcely credible of paying off the licence in instalments with, and this was agreed by phone with the licensing authority, a weekly instalment of £5.60 to begin with. I thought that could only be done to pay for a licence in advance but was much taken by the idea of getting one for £5.60. Diana, however, was not and refused to pay it.
I’m taking a bit of artistic licence here to say in the meantime I’d done a spot of shopping for her she wouldn’t let me do unless I bought a fillet steak for myself. I agreed but forgot. I went down to Diana’s with the idea of equating the fillet steak with the £5.60 of the tv licence. I did threaten to wash my hands of her if she didn’t agree. I wanted to see if it worked, pointing out that if it didn’t she’d be one up on the social workers.
She insisted on coming with me to pay at a paypoint using the nos a social worker had put on the final demand. We walked at a snail’s pace to the corner tobacconist where she’d earlier bought her fags but not so much as considered paying for the licence. The shop was shut for Sikh prayers. “They’re British, aren’t they?” I objected. We went back the way we’d come at a snail’s pace, then on to another newsagent’s in hope of a paypoint there. No. We returned to the first shop at a snail’s pace. He wouldn’t do it.
We reverted to plan A the main social worker had followed through on by completing a form for Diana to pay off the licence in one go. We proceeded to the bank where despite Diana having no card she extracted £89.64. We then were walking back when Diana could walk no farther without a break for a coffee and fag, to catch her breath.
The form was back at the flat. When Diana had recovered we went back there at a slug’s trace. All that was on the form was name, address and telephone no. Things now speeded up. I extracted the money needed to make up the full whack of the licence and paid it, on my own at full pace.