Passages in England

Posted in Blog

My name is Manuel Cuervo, I arrived in Norwich, England, in November 1974 with my wife, Maria Eugenia and my two sons, Manuel Alfonso, four years old, and Luciano, two tears old. My wife was an economist and was awarded a scholarship at the University of East Anglia. I hardly spoke any English.

The story I want to tell you happened two weeks after our arrival. We were living in two rooms in student accommodation. It was a Saturday and Maria Eugenia had left early for the university campus with the two children. We did not have any cash for the weekend and as it was Saturday I had to go to town to cash a cheque she had given me from her account.

Norwich is a town with a castle in the middle surrounded by lots of little streets and alleys. I arrived in the city centre, but the bank I was looking for seemed to have disappeared. I walked, looking for it in desperation but just kept going round that bloody castle.

It was near midday and I knew the bank was going to close soon, but my English was not good enough to ask for directions. I became panicked and in desperation stood in the middle of the street showing my cheque to passers-by until an old lady noticed me, took me by the hand and left me at the bank door.

Very relieved I entered, stood in front of the counter and proudly showed my cheque. The cashier looked at it, said something I did not understand and gave me back the cheque. I insisted, pushed my cheque toward him again saying "money", the only word I remembered. The clerk said something again to me and gave back the cheque again, I insisted and said "money".

The thing I did not know was that in England you could only cash a cheque from your own current account. The bank clerk saw a long queue was beginning to form behind me and decided to call someone who could speak Spanish, but his Spanish was as bad as my English and it did not help. I kept on saying my only word, "money". In the end they gave me the money and made me happy as I had got the money to survive another week in this country.


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