Archive Page 2

26
Mar
11

So I did it…

A couple of weeks ago, the duke and I trundled off to a nearby NCS (Nationality Checking Service–and we used one for another borough because the wait list for ours was horrible) and submitted our my application for citizenship. Why do I always think of this as collective? Yes, the duke has been by my side faithfully through the process, but in the end it’s my application, and if I fail at it, it won’t be because of anything the duke did or didn’t do. It’s a gift he’s given me by accident of birth and work towards that goal, but ultimately, it’s my application.

So, we went with a tonne of paperwork. Well, really, not as much as we’ve had at other times. The worker photocopied and certified our documents, took our payment, and sent us on our way. The whole thing took about 15 minutes, but I imagine that is because we were prepared and had everything in order.

I don’t know why I am in the least bit nervous, but it feels so final and important. It is indeed a huge thing. If I am successful in my application and am invited to a citizenship ceremony, I will be agreeing to take part in British society in the fullest. I will carry a passport that also declares that I am a citizen of the EU as well. It seems too good to be true. Not to have to worry about immigration issues with my husband again (unless we choose to move to the States, which I don’t really see happening). I think more than anything that is what makes me the most nervous about all this. After so long we will finally have citizenship to the same country.

To lighten my mood, I watch this video:

Starting at 1:09, I have to laugh. It’s not a laugh from ridicule, but a laugh because even as a native English speaker, I will probably end up flubbing something up because of nerves.

I can only hope I will have the chance to make such a slip.

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23
Feb
11

A dog visits Yankshire

So we’ve been horse dog sitting a friend’s greyhound lab mix during her visit to the States. I grew up as a dog owner, so it’s nothing new to me, but the duke has never owned a dog, let alone one that takes up half the living room floor when it naps.

For those of you who have never lived in London, it’s not easy being a pet owner here, at least as a renter. So we’ve put off getting a dog, even though I miss having one and the duke dreams of running off and studying wolves. We were looking forward to having a “borrowed” dog, but I can’t say I will shed a tear when he goes. Why? I think I have become a cat person. Or maybe I was never a big dog person (we always had medium, sane sized dogs). That’s not to say that he’s been a burden (it’s actually been a lot of fun), but I will be glad not to have to hoover every day, emptying the canister twice during the process.

I guess the years without a dog made me forget about smelly bum breath, the farts (clue to when you’re about to be assaulted by the reek: the dog gets up and moves really quickly to the other side of the room), the hair, the neediness… The duke has said that if we ever get a dog, we will definitely get a smaller model. There is something about having a family member that adores and respects you in a way no cat would ever lower him or herself to, though.

Maybe the best bit was when on the first weekend we had him, I awoke to find the duke lecturing our doggy guest on how he needn’t bark every time anyone came near the house, and explaining that the weekends were the time for the duke to catch up on his kip. Honestly, the dog didn’t bark much after the lecture. A runner up has to be my ten pound cat pushing this massive black dog out of the way at meal times.

So at the end of the week, we return to our status of confirmed cat people, at least for the time being. I predict that I will have finally hoovered up the last of the dog hair sometime this summer.

EDIT: I was wrong. I do miss him! Dogs are great. Although it’s nice to have my cat back to his more dog-cat behaviour (he was acting pure cat during the dog visit), I think I am much more open to a dog in the near future. I have thought about him a lot in the past few hours!

01
Feb
11

If it’s any colder in here…

…I don’t know what we’ll do.

The Duke got the electric/gas bill, and we’re above their estimate. So that means we have to run the boiler less often. We barely run it now. The only thing I think we can do would be to actually sell the ambient heat back to the company, but I don’t think it works that way.

So I am not running the boiler during the day today. And we’re cutting down on the use of our dehumidifier. The Duke hasn’t asked me to do this, but I feel guilty. Both bills are quarterly and they were off by about a month’s usage. I am going to stock up on candles and use them to read and write during the day when England’s gloomy winter days make it impossible to see. The side bonus is that I can warm my hands by them and the open flame might help dry things out. It sounds like a joke, but I am really close to doing it.

Or we could just say screw it. It’s not like we go on holiday. Don’t bother shutting off all the lights and standby settings (which we do for the most part). If this is what the bills look like when we’re being all green and careful, it feels like we shouldn’t bother.

Gah, I can’t believe I am worried about this stuff. I guess this makes me a grown up. I am a pair of aviator specs away from being my dad of my childhood with his “this place is light up like a damn Christmas tree.”

11
Jan
11

EastEnders: Freedom from offence

When I moved to the UK, I decided to try to absorb as much British popular culture as possible. You think that PBS, Hugh Grant films, a common language, and a huge crush on a country would prepare you somewhat. But, no, most North Americans have a bit of learning to do if they want to get all the injokes and truly feel if they understand even a small bit about the popular culture here.

It was fairly obvious that I was going to have to choose a soap. Soaps here are a whole lot different from American soaps. I could probably write a thesis on the differences, but it would probably be easier just to list how they are similar. They are both called soaps, and people tend to sleep around a lot in them. That will have to do for now.

So when I got here, I was looking forward to getting into one, and eventually (after a few false starts) settled on EastEnders for telly and the occasional listen to The Archers on the radio (which is a whole ‘nother blog post, trust me). After watching EE for a year, I was considering giving it up. As much as I liked British soaps better than American ones, I felt a bit bored with them. What kept me watching was the fact that it was a part of the evening routine. Four days a week, after dinner, I could pop on EE (or “Albert Square” as my father in law calls it) and try to suspend disbelief.

So after them making a pig’s ear of some story arcs and doing a fairly decent job with a few, the anticipated baby swap New Years episode came up. I say anticipated because most people were spoiled about it ahead of time, and some of the subsequent complaints came before the swap was aired. For those not well versed in EE lore, the end of the year saw two women heavily pregnant: one was Ronnie Branning, a former teenage mother and victim of incest who didn’t get to raise her child, and Kat Moon, a former teenage mother and victim of incest who didn’t get to raise her child. Do you see what they did there? They became mirrored foils of each other. Of course on top of that baggage, Ronnie had a history of miscarriage. Tragic.

Of course both women go into labour roughly the same time. Kat gives birth in the Queen Vic where she is the landlady, and Ronnie in hospital without her husband who is in Dubai for convenient plotting reasons. New Years Eve finds Kat in hospital because of haemorrhaging and Ronnie home alone with her newborn son James. Yadda yadda yadda, James dies and Ronnie snaps and eventually switches his corpse with Kat’s living son who was alone in the flat above the Queen Vic while a party raged below. Oh, was that insensitive of me to yadda yadda a cot death? Well, I wouldn’t have done that if it were real, and this wasn’t real.

I don’t think that this was a great story line. It’s not the first or even the fifth time EE had used women gone mad (or at least a bit irrational) over their inability to have a child/keep a child alive as the catalyst for a story arc. However, I don’t really get the furore that has happened since then.

Since I’ve been watching, EE has covered a lot of things that people would find highly personal in a less than responsible way. From mental illness to crack addiction to miscarriage to murder they’ve used events which when they happen to people in real life, don’t result in the outcomes as on the show. They are used to drive the story along. Sure, they might justify it by saying that it raises awareness, but we all know that is B.S. Not one “issue” raised in the time I have been watching has been handled very realistically, at least in my experience (and I’ve had my life touched by quite a few, including, believe it or not, a crack addict almost burning down my home). Yet, it never crossed my mind to ring up Ofcom.

In fact, it seems to only cross the minds of people when it involves a murdered dog or a bereaved parent of a baby (not a bereaved parent suffering a miscarriage) going off the deep end. Sure not every parent who lost a child to cot death would swap their dead one for a living one, but Ronnie isn’t any parent. She’s a character on a soap. Do people really think that the public will now view mothers who have lost their child to cot death with suspicion? Do they think that the public will hesitate to offer sympathy to a bereaved mother in case they are the victim of such a horrible swap?

Yes, cot death is horrific enough, but so is mental illness. You really don’t need to make one of the two crazy people in the square a murderess. And you don’t need to make the resident serial killer into a psychotic either (most serial killers may be psychopaths, but they rarely are psychotic). Yet both of these became a part of the EE narrative this year. Did anyone ring Ofcom of the Beeb? Talk about picking on an already stigmatised group of people…

I don’t know, I trust people to understand that what we see on telly isn’t real. And for those who can’t, you aren’t going to avoid the misconceptions by sanitising our airwaves of potential offence. We’re not talking about speech rooted in hatred. We’re not even talking about speech rooted in ignorance. We’re talking about people expecting to never be reminded of horrible things unless it’s treated with a certain level of respect. While I can understand people wanting that to happen, it doesn’t with most things on telly, so why make the case in only a few instances?

If most people found it repugnant, they’d not tune in. However, it seems to have sparked something with viewers because EE is still pulling very strong numbers. Again, we’re not talking about hate speech, we’re talking about something you shouldn’t expect to be protected from: the fact that the media will try to use tragedy to its own ends. Sure, complain to the Beeb (you probably pay your licence fee, so by all means, let them know you’re disappointed), but don’t expect Ofcom to step in. But before firing off that email or picking up the phone, imagine a BBC which totally reflected reality. You wouldn’t watch, and you’d be a hypocrite to expect it to only be real when it involves puppies and cot death.

05
Jan
11

Happy New Year and all that

We did absolutely nothing over Mr Moggs’ holiday other than sit around, eat, bloat up, and play video games. Oh, we did the obligatory holiday visits and had friends around for New Years, but for the most part, it was a bit pathetic. I’ve started to have the most horrible nightmares, probably from playing too many violent games. We should have been reading, travelling, going for walks, hell, even going to the pub and meeting our neighbours, but I was in the Mojave shooting the heads off feral ghouls whilst my arse expanded as I sat and ate Quality Street.

Obviously, one of my resolutions is to go back on my diet (third day, rah rah). The other, a bit of a late one, is to not fire up the PS3 so much.

22
Dec
10

The past few weeks in a mere few sentences

So, not a lot has happened in the past few weeks, at least not a lot that is all that interesting. I’ve decided to sum it all up in a sort of random summary stream:

Our monitor is broken. Let’s have the sister-in-law to be over. Oh look it’s snowing. No one shovels. Damn tabloids telling everyone they’ll get sued if someone slips on their shovelled pavement. Monitor is still broken. Let’s get a giant telly. The snow as melted. Oh look, it’s snowing again. Everyone’s stuck in a few inches of snow.

Crap it’s cold.

Oh, we’ve got the plague again. It’s cold and snowy. Cat won’t let me sleep in the morning. I am being lazy with the house. I am reading a lot. Our back garden is perfect and white. Damn it’s cold. Let’s turn on the boiler. It’s for future Mr and Mrs Moggs to pay.

Send out the cards. I always forget someone. Or some three. On the diet. Off the diet. Read some more. Watch the big telly. Go for long walks. Get teeth cleaned. Write a bit. Rue the fact I didn’t knit or crochet presents because it’s too damn snowy to shop. Or rather, it’s too damn snowy for us to get anywhere due to the fact British transportation is designed for a window of about 30 degrees C and no snow. Or leaves apparently. Go to the Christmas party of Mr Moggs old job where everyone just lost their jobs. Cat won’t let me sleep in the morning. Creepy Wikileaks guy may well be innocent, but he still creeps me out.

It’s supposed to be warm for Christmas. Warm after all this snow, and we won’t get a white Christmas. Cat won’t let me sleep in the morning. Buy everyone presents in a few hours in Croydon. Exhausted. Exhausted. Cat won’t let me sleep in the morning.

06
Dec
10

Bright lights, big telly

I’ve not written in a while. There is a reason for that. For the past month or so, our monitor would randomly switch off. About 10 days ago, it became more frequent. We weren’t sure if it was a problem with the monitor or our graphics card (or if we had some weird monitor killing virus). In the end, it turned out to be our monitor, and it wouldn’t stay on for more than 12 seconds. This didn’t keep Mr Moggs from using the computer, although using it required more time and more swear words to do the things he needed to get done.

So we talked about notebooks or netbooks. We were planning on buying them before all the recent extra expenses came up in the autumn, and we revived that idea, at least in part. However, we had a perfectly good, small telly that could work for a monitor. We could get a new (bigger) telly and use the small one for a monitor. So we went off to Croydon to look for bargains and found one in the form of a 32 inch wide-screen which Mr Moggs lugged home in the ice and rain (which only began AFTER we bought the telly). It’s the biggest friggen telly I’ve ever owned. It scares me when I walk into the living room sometimes. It also scares me to think that a lot of people would consider it “mid-sized”.

Maybe I should give some background. I am not someone who really hates television. I actually love it, maybe too much. I guess that is why when it was up to me to supply the telly for myself, I either went without or used small cast offs (my grandfather’s portable black and white from the 1960s, an ex’s old 13 inch colour computer monitor from the early 1980s). At one point after Mr Moggs and I married, I had a 5 inch black and white telly that we used to watch in bed with it resting on Mr Moggs’ chest. I guess I always thought that if it was small enough, a big enough pain to watch, or the picture was crap enough I would do something more productive when possible. Or if not, at least I wouldn’t be enjoy wasting time with it too much.

Now we have this massive thing, and it calls to me. Everything is a bit brighter, a bit clearer, and a lot more mesmerising on it. It makes me feel a bit queasy, but I don’t really dislike it. In fact, I am glad we’ve got it. It’s big, it’s beautiful, and people won’t mistake it for a computer monitor like they did our old telly (which is now, of course, fulfilling that destiny as a monitor).

In time I am sure it will become normal to me, almost the same way that the little 5 inch telly became normal. In a way, I think it’s actually good for me to exercise my discipline with it. I might even get more done because I will be more careful about switching it on. At least that is what I tell myself.




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