5 June 2011

Good morning and welcome to another edition of the Befouled Weakly News

After many, many years of non-interest in the proposition, I finally started recently to investigate the potential of becoming a citizen of the UK. You can tell that I tend to do things very quickly when I get motivated! It’s only been about thirty-six years since I first acquired the right to reside here permanently which has served me admirably well all this time. However, the incident which finally stirred me to action was waiting in an airport immigration queue with all the other dregs for about an hour while UK and European Community citizens breezed through by waving their passports in front of a very bored immigration official. That was two years ago when we came back from France so, again, you can see I’m right on top of this!

So, after a bit of an investigation, the process is:

Firstly, I have to “prove” that I have a permanent right of residence in the UK. Easy. Since I am married to a citizen of the UK (and a very lovely one at that) I therefore have the right to reside here permanently. So, clearly I need to produce a copy of our marriage certificate to the relevant authorities.

Marriage CertificateHmmm. Now, where is that pesky marriage certificate. I know I had one once. Well, I “think” I had one once. Hmm. Are we really married or was that just my imagination?

In danger of falling at the first hurdle, I got onto the ‘net to investigate how to acquire another copy. Fortunately, for a small handling fee, the state of Connecticut (which is where we were married, of course) will provide me with the relevant documentation. Thanks to Dad who did all the necessary communication and correspondence with the civil authorities in Newington, Connecticut prior to my visit at the end of April, I am now in possession of not one but two certified copies. Even more amazing, I haven’t misplaced either copy yet!

The second requirement is to be able to demonstrate that one can communicate in English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic to an acceptable degree. Thank goodness it’s an “or” and not “and” – my Scottish Gaelic is a bit rusty. So, I think I can manage that.

Finally, one has to demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of “Life in the United Kingdom” which involves passing a multiple-choice examination on a range of topics covering history, culture, tradition as well as a random selection of utterly bizarre and meaningless statistical questions which presumably were developed by a gaggle of drunk civil servants one sunny afternoon at the pub. Example:

The percentage of Black or Black British people in the UK in 2001 was:

2%
4%
5%
7%

or

The percentage of people in the UK in 2001 who said they were Muslims was

1.6%
2.7%
3.4%
4.2%

or

The percentage of the population who attend religious services in the UK is

5%
10%
15%
20%

to which the real answer is “who cares?” and how does carrying around a clutter of meaningless statistical information make one a “better” citizen? A short, informal (and completely non-scientific) poll of current UK citizens suggests that none are able to pass the test! Perhaps that’s the real point, particularly when it’s those pesky “foreigners” who all want to come here to take advantage of the extraordinary generosity of the welfare state (government spending cuts not withstanding).

We’ll let you know how I get on and “No,” I am not going to be abandoning my US credentials. I suppose the only downside will be that I will no longer have my US passport stamped with “VIPP” (Very Important Person Probably) when I come through immigration. A small price to pay for not having to wait for an hour or so each time.

Irises at Edgecote
Irises at Edgecote

Pretty decent weather this week – still a bit cool but we did have a couple of nice sunny days. And, although we did have some rain last week and at the beginning of this week, we still need more. According to the Met Office, this has been the driest Spring for 100 years and the farmers are, not surprisingly, quite concerned.

Yours hoping for rain at night and warm sunshine during the day,

Love to you all,

Greg