The bank cashier was counting pads of pound notes when I appeared at his grille the next morning. He carefully examined the amount and the signature on the Horizon cheque, all of it in Connolly’s green ink, then asked, ‘What do you want to do with this?’
‘Cash it,’ I said.
‘Have you an account at this branch?’
‘I haven’t, no. But Mr Connolly has. He said you’d cash this for me.’
‘Sorry,’ the cashier said. ‘I can’t cash it, you’ve no account here,’ and he pushed the cheque back under the grille.
‘Why can’t you cash it?’ I asked. ‘Here’s my name, quite clearly made out.’
‘It’s a crossed cheque,’ he told me. ‘It’s not been opened. You could put it through your own bank, would be the best way.’
‘I haven’t a bank.’
The cashier went back to cashing pound notes. People without banks did not interest him.
‘What d’you mean, the cheque hasn’t been opened?’ I asked.
He glanced up, surprised to find me still there: he thought the matter settled.
‘A crossed cheque can only be paid into a banking account,’ he said patiently. ‘It cannot be cashed unless it’s been correctly opened.’
‘Against banking regulations otherwise,’ said a second, older cashier, who’d come up to listen.
‘And if this cheque were opened, would you cash it then?’
The second cashier in turn took the cheque and examined every inch of it. ‘But this hasn’t been opened,’ he said at last.
From: Julian Maclaren-Ross, Memoirs of the Forties. London, Alan Ross, 1965.