I suppose I should be sympathetic to the plight of Nat West savers. I mean, I AM one, so if anything else goes tits up, it could well be my account, my direct debits and…well, you get the picture.
But still, I can’t help feeling a touch of schadenfreude (look it up!) at all those earnest folk in the media and on phone-ins worried about bad credit records being created through no fault of the individuals concerned – and therefore why matters should be corrected at the earliest possible, leaving not the shadow of a stain on their personal history.
For surely, none of those jumping up and down so excitedly now are the same peeps as get excitable when proposals are afoot to expunge other details from the historic record. Such as the crim records of those convicted of homosexuality offences before same sex activity was decriminalised – or indeed, the same folks as consider it absolutely not on to amend the birth certificates of trans folk who were aligned wrong at birth – and now live the gender they identify as.
But, but, they splutter in the last two cases, these are historical records and irrespective of how we FEEL about the peeps involved, we can’t just go around amending history. Oh, no? If that is genuinely the case, I fully expect the same, er, lack of sympathy to be applied to Nat West customers who, through no fault of their own, suddenly end up with bad credit records. Not their fault?
Er, no. A credit default would be a fact, and is supposed to be recorded as such irrespective of cause. It is then for manual systems and intervention to determine whether any notice should be taken of that default. But should it happen to anyone this week…well, it would have happened.
Not their fault? Matter of opinion, I guess: after all, they decided to bank with Nat West. No-one FORCED them to. They could have kept all their money at home under a matterss, whereupon they’d have the wherewithal to pay their bills now.
I exaggerate, definitely. But not by much. Because while debates about “amending” the past are often couched in terms of some supposed neutral objectivity, they are all too often about the control and policing of individual behaviour: ademand by state and society that no matter what changes in your life, you will always be nailed to your past.
Sometimes with tragic consequence. Working on name change, I have come across victims who have tried their hardest to lose the surname of a step-parent who abused them. I have encountered people who have atsomepoint in their past been involved in less socially acceptable ways of being – like sex work or smutty film – who have moved on,made new lives for themselves and then, following one prurient story from the local press, almost always justified in terms of “public interest” are outed and lose their job.
More recently, I have followed with a degree of mild amusement the efforts of an individual to eradicate their own past as they shift from a job and a role in which “anything went” to one where public reputation is all.
So while my heart tends to be with the historians, my head isn’t. Leave the historic fact on the record and there will always be someone somewhere who will dig it up and dangle it in front of your nose like a pair of soiled knickers. Look! You did this, they glory in saying – irrespective of any and every piece of personal achievement since.
So sympathise with the Nat West customers. But also remember them: and next time some geek tells you that your past is past and cannot be rewritten, remind them of how selective that sentiment sometimes is.