Time. You always either have too much or not enough. It always goes too slow or too fast. It makes you stress or it makes you bored. Worse still, it turns you into an old fart.
It’s like that one arsehole kid in school who thought it was funny to jump out from behind a corner and yell “BOO!” – usually when you had your hands full of something likely to stain when you’re drenched in it. That arsehole has been hiding round the dark corner of my life for a good long while now, waiting patiently to give me the biggest scare of my life. Well, second biggest. Sitting at the end of the Pirate Ship ride at the Moomba festival years ago was enough to make me think I was gonna die. That thing is deceptively scary.
(image via http://www.iappsoft.com)
In 6 weeks I will have been in the UK for 5 years. That means it’s time to sort out my UK residency, hence the panic. In 2008, five years felt like an eternity. It’s always been something that I’ve relegated to the “oh yeah, I’ll deal with that one day” portion of my brain. Man I wish I could run that part of my brain like a computer, like an Outlook diary, so I’d get invitations and reminders and all sorts of blips and bleeps and handy pop-ups.
To avoid being shipped back to Melbourne, I first have to pass a “Life in the UK” test. Which means there’s a book to read.
And facts to memorise. The reading’s fine I guess, it’s the memorising bit that hurts. Can any of you UK readers answer these…
No, neither can I.
You know, there’s a page at the front of this book which says anyone who can read English at ESOL level 3 and above will have no difficulty. But for anyone who came to the UK a few years ago and has been learning English from scratch, it must be bloody hard. I mean, even I’ll struggle and I’m an Australian, someone who speaks a version of English, one that allows me to kind of understand most of what the Scots are saying to me if I ask them to repeat it a few times.
I was confident until I flipped to this page…
And I realised that I don’t even know UK cities. Look at number 8 – Bradford. Who’s ever heard of Bradford? Not I. Fark! And here I was thinking that actually living in the UK for 5 years would be study enough to pass the “Life in the UK” test. Why can’t they ask me about Sunday roasts and the weather and what I hate about The Tube?
What’s more, stupid me, in May I booked a trip for 10 days in September because hell, that portion of my brain forgot to remind me that prancing round on holiday the week before my UK Visa runs out is not exactly good timing. So I have to book my test for some time in the next four weeks, before I go away. Can I memorise 161 pages in four weeks? I dunno. The only tests I’ve had to pass in the last 20 years are those bloody Health and Safety things every new job makes you do at induction these days. Or is that just the UK? Ask me about H&S!!! Can that be on the test?
Ah well. They say we’re capable of amazing things when we’re under the pump. Maybe the thought of being forced back to Melbourne (not that I have anything against that fabulous city – I just don’t want to live there for the rest of my life) will be all the inspiration I’ll need for information to soak in.
So there won’t be much time for writing all the blog posts I’m miles behind on, starting a new blog I’m miles behind on, finishing the 3 month online course I’ve been doing for four months already, going to all the shows I want to see at the Edinburgh festival or spending hundreds of hours a week watching movies and TV shows… oh and work, which happens to include overtime this month so I’m working a gabillion days in a row from Monday. OK, maybe not that many. Maybe 12.
Hopefully I’ll remember next month when I’m sitting on my southern Italian rooftop terrace to make sure I soak up a good half a year’s worth of the late September sun. Because last time I had to give my passport to the UK Border Agency, it took them six months and one complaint letter to get it back.
On the plus side, there’s nothing like having no passport to force you to discover your adopted homeland. Maybe a trip to Bradford is on the cards…