Dear Reader: Drama in the sky + mystery of empty banks
A regular column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers
Location, location, location is key, they say, when it comes to property and I suppose that’s vaguely true in my case, too, if only in the sense I like where I live because it’s right next door to the leafy grounds of Harrogate Golf Club.
It’s a quiet little street in general. No loud music or the banging of car doors, silent as a graveyard at night-time.
After 9pm, the odd cat or two pads around but our neighbours usually become invisible.
Well, that’s the theory, anyway.
It wasn’t so quiet early one morning last week when I was awoken from my slumbers by a deep, powerful drone and a mighty whirr.
I’m a good sleeper but this was a sound you couldn’t ignore. As to what was causing it, this noise from nowhere had me stumped.
Theories flitted back and forth in my half-awake, half-asleep thoughts.
Having spent a couple of nights in urban LA a long time ago, I finally realised that I did recognise what this almighty din was.
It was a police helicopter.
It must have buzzed back and forth around the area for a good half hour or more before flying off around 6am.
It was so close at times I thought the pilot was about to attempt a landing in my tiny back garden.
Once I’d got to work at 8.30am, a colleague in the newsroom filled me in on the whole background to this mini drama in the wee small hours of the morning.
There were a few comments on the newspaper’s Facebook complaining that the use of a helicopter in a police operation was a bit over the top - literally.
I wasn’t that bothered, I can’t think of any other reason except for the police tackling crime that would make me happy to be awoken at 5am by a deep, powerful drone and a mighty whirr.
The British obsession with ‘streamlining’ is such that a growing number of major organisations, private and public, are starting to offer less and less to the people they are meant to be serving.
I say this because I’ve noticed a growing phenomenon on the high street recently I call the mystery of the empty banks.
As a child, I remember what banks were once like - all wood panelling, protective grills and a hub bub of people queuing for hours on end.
Not any more.
What we have now are vast open floors, open plan counters and no staff.
Well, a few, perhaps.
Walking into the average bank these days is like stepping into a deserted dance hall or an empty space ship.
The trend is undoubtedly the result of the switch from real cash to electronic money, the rise of the internet and the fall of staff numbers.
We shouldn’t worry, it’s all perfectly natural.
But how long before most of Britain exists in name only?