x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Pinned down by plastic

My cover has been blown in spectacular style - by a text message from my bank. Not to me, you see, but to my husband.

My cover has been blown in spectacular style - by a text message from my bank. Not to me, you see, but to my husband. And not just the usual one informing him of how much has just flown the account, but one that's so packed with information that it has seismic implications for my future spending. Before, as soon as a card was swiped, a text message would be sent to said husband along the lines of "Dhx has been authorised on your card".

This would be shortly followed by a phone call from him to me, along the lines of "Where are you and what are you buying?" My answer, in general, was "At the supermarket, buying food with which I will cook you dinner", or "Buying sheets on which your mother will sleep". This generally got me off the hook, even if it wasn't true. Such has been the system for two blissful years. And then last weekend I had a bit of a shock. There I was, in London for a couple of days, merrily spoiling myself after a few months of austerity.

I'll sort it out when I get back, I thought, and in the meantime, claim it's all Christmas presents for his family. But when the phone rang post-swipe this time, there was no "Where are you and what are you buying?"Just, "Nice lunch in Bluebird?" Cue stunned silence. Was he rigged up to a CCTV camera? Had I been spotted by a friend and my extravagance reported? No, the bank had simply thought it fit to add that little fact to the text message. Now, not only is the amount of money everybody's business, but so is the place in which I am choosing to spend it.

I can see such a system has merits. If, for instance, I had in fact flown to Brazil on a top secret mission, he would have known about it pretty quickly. Likewise, if someone else had somehow extracted my bank details and spent thousands of dollars on strange electronic equipment in Taiwan, there would almost have been enough time to ring the store and have them arrested before they've headed for the door. But still, when a few measly pairs of shoes can no longer slip under the radar (we contribute jointly to this account), it is a sad state of affairs.

The only solution, as I see it, is for me to be sent the messages too. Fancy another round of golf? Or a cashmere jumper? I need to know about it. Even better, if his senses leave him and he buys me a Wii for Christmas, there will be plenty of time to take it back and get a karaoke machine instead.