I appear to have started a cold today. I have the most location-specific sore throat ever and I’m a little sneezy too. Now, if I weren’t supposed to be practising my singing, including up to top C EVERY DAY, this cold would be of little consequence, and merit only an eyeroll, but getting a cold can put the singing back for three or four weeks so I’m a bit concerned. And because it’s a fast day, I can’t even chain-suck Soothers. Boo.
Today I have mostly done errands and done the Boywonder’s left-behind laundry. I was slightly resentful but I shan’t be doing any more of that for a couple of months so there’s that silver lining right there.
One of my tasks for today was to call my bank, with whom I’ve had my account for 26 years. The account is in my maiden name, because I was not married when I opened it. I worked under my maiden name and never changed it or the name on my credit card account, but when I had children and they started school and we did family things I changed my passport and my driving licence and other more family-oriented things to my married name.
It was never a big deal for me. People had such trouble pronouncing my Indian maiden name anyway (as well as my first name) that it was a relief to change it to something more pronounceable. At least I thought it was more pronounceable but it turns out that people can’t be bothered to read or pronounce that correctly either. I also used my married name on my CV, hoping that it would go some way to reducing the indirect race discrimination from which I’m sure I suffered but I don’t think it had much of an effect.
I did this reluctantly: my first name and married surname don’t sit well together and, after almost 22 years of marriage, I still don’t like hearing them in tandem. Just after my wedding, I was lectured earnestly by a young colleague about how appalling it was to change one’s name from maiden to married. I was a little offended at her vehemence and lack of tact but her point stood. It annoys me that it’s assumed that women will change their name to Mrs Mansurname when they’re still working and nothing has really changed. Indian official forms that always ask a woman for a father’s name or a husband’s name – she is the property of first one then the other – also enrage me, and I always protest in the face of a completely uncomprehending fixed smile. Smash the Patriarchy.
So I didn’t change the name on my bank account or my credit card in order to keep some sort of independence of spirit and thought, even years after I stopped working and I became completely dependent on my husband for my income. Hence MsAlliance
Now, however, banks are being compelled to introduce more stringent anti money laundering rules. In order to prove that I am who I’ve been since even before 1989, I have been asked by my bank to supply details of my identity and address. Worse, they have to be certified by a doctor or a solicitor or a person from a whole specified list of “trustworthy people.”
I know that if I go to my GP surgery, at least one of the GPs will charge me for this, The same one who begrudged taking a blood sample when I was found to be an initial match as a bone marrow donor with the words “We don’t get paid for this.” Neither do I, mate.
Apparently I can take the photocopies of the identity documents to a Post Office and they will certify them and charge me. It all seems to me like a bit of a racket, ironically.
Trouble is, none of the documents the bank wants is in my maiden name. So now I have to change the name on my bank account of 26 years’ standing to my married name. It shouldn’t be a big deal but it is. I’d always read that, in this country, we can call ourselves what we damn well please but apparently the name on my passport and driving licence is my only legally acceptable name. The call centre lady helpfully pointed out that if I want to call myself what I please, I should change my name by Deed Poll. Right.
If I want to keep my bank account in my maiden name, I have to change the name on my passport and driving licence. I have actually considered Ms Maidenname-Mansurname (and vice versa) but that’s unwieldy in the extreme. Imagine the extra biros used; imagine always running out of little boxes on forms. Imagine writing all that out in triplicate every time MsDD goes on a school trip.
You can imagine how I railed against this. It means that we women now have to make a definitive choice between our maiden name and our married name on all documents. I know I shouldn’t feel aggrieved, but I do. Grr
*Title of this post supplied by the OH.