Life In The UK 1

As is often my way, I’ll start off apologising for not writing anything in my blog for a long time. I keep starting to write stuff but then can’t be bothered to post it because I don’t think many people read this anyway. Anyway…

Naomi’s parents were over here for a while recently. We drove all over the UK with them: Coventry Motor Museum, Warwick Castle, Chatsworth House, the Lake District, the Farne Islands, Comrie Croft, Loch Ness, the Isle of Skye, Snowdon, London, Dover. That’s a few of the places we visited. They were very excited to see lots of old houses, stone walls and sheep. They also went to Europe for a few weeks.

As you can see from the photos I took in June, we have a new car – a VW Bora 2.0 Sport to be reasonably precise. It’s very nice. Not quite as fast as the GTi was, but much better in almost every other way. Driving it several thousands miles around the country with a full complement of passengers and luggage was no problem, and it averages thirty-eight miles per gallon on the way. I fixed a misfire after the trip (one of the ignition leads was dodgy; I found it had electrical insulating tape on it when I removed it) and now its fuel economy is even better – I can manage forty miles per gallon when driving to work if I’m careful.

Last weekend we went to Edition 38, which is a watercooled VW show. Well, it’s not specifically watercooled, as there were a few busses and beetles, but it was mainly Golfs, Lupos, Polos, Boras, and some Audis and Seats which had sneaked in too. Thousands of nice VWs, and some very nice ones. I took a lot of photos of them – I’ll probably post them on flickr at some point. We were only there for a few hours on Sunday afternoon, and it rained quite a bit, but we might go for the whole weekend next year if Paul comes to visit.

Naomi has got her new job as a librarian at the school. It was a little bizarre though, as on Friday her previous, temporary contract ended, and on Monday when she went into work she didn’t yet know if she had a job or not. But she had got it, so now she has to get the library in a fit state for use – and the kids return today. I think it would have made sense for the school to have given her the job at the start of the summer and had her working in the library over the summer when she would have been able to do lots of useful work, instead of putting her on reception with nothing to do. But then, I’m a Software Architect, so what do I know about running a school?

She passed her Life In The UK test yesterday, which is great, because now she can go ahead and apply for her permanent residence. And then next year she can go for her citizenship, which is another £750, and will bring the total we’ve spent on immigration to about £2000. That’s excluding things like flights – it’s just money we have to pay the government. Money grabbing expletives.

The test is a particularly daft part of the process. It used to have to be taken when applying for citizenship, but now you have to take it when applying for permanent residence, in order to prove that you have adequate knowledge of the English language. (And then next year it can be reused to prove that you have knowledge of life in the UK.) I’ve no idea how memorizing pages of statistics is going to help anyone be well integrated into British society. But as I said, I’m just a Software Architect. Not running the country. There are five chapters of the Life In The UK Book which you have to learn, including a lot of statistics. There are also several chapters which you don’t need to read. Including the one on Law. Personally, I think it would be far more useful if immigrants had to know about the law in the UK rather than the fact that 0.5% of the population is Jewish and there are 646 MPs in parliament. And another thing (while I’m in rant mode)… You are told that you must not lose your pass certificate, otherwise you’ll have to retake the test as it’s impossible to replace it. However, on the certificate is mentions that an electronic copy has been sent to the Home Office, so they should know that you’ve passed it anyway. On second thoughts, that’s not so bizarre, as the Home Office will probably store the details on a laptop and then leave it on the Tube.

So… After work yesterday we went to Star City in Birmingham to celebrate. We had Chinese food at Flame, which was surprisingly good, and then watched Get Smart, which was also surprisingly good. Not a deep movie in any way, but very funny and well made. I was impressed by the way they didn’t linger on most of the comedic parts of the film – if there was a joke or some slapstick or a throwaway line they quickly moved on, without stopping to explain it or to draw it out until it’s exhausted. Which meant it was far more enjoyable than I expected. Possibly the two least funny, funny parts of the film, were two of the bits I’d already seen in the trailer. Which makes a change, since often a trailer has all the funny bits of the movie, leaving the movie itself a bit of a damp squib.

One comment on “Life In The UK

  1. Reply nic Nov 30,-0001 00:00

    Hi James,

    Just reading your blog and it made me smile! We’re just going through the same process as Naomi to get our Australian citizenship! Our test seems to be all about flowers and stones though! completely and utterly ridiculous if you ask me, especially as you can take it as many times as you like unitl you pass!!!


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