I thought a new collective noun had been created for the process of “unfriending” someone when I overheard an American say
I thought a new collective noun had been created for the process of “unfriending” someone when I overheard an American say
How many days was I resident in the UK during the tax year? My guidance from a Tax services provider for helping to work this out:
Generally, an individual will be treated as being in the UK on any day where he or she is in the UK at the end of that day (i.e., at midnight).
There are two main exceptions to the basic rule on location at midnight:
Exceptional circumstances apply when circumstances beyond the individual’s control prevent him or her from leaving the UK. For example, national or local emergencies such as war, civil unrest or natural disaster; or sudden or life-threatening illness or injury for the individual themself or a close family member. The exception is restricted to a maximum of 60 days in any UK tax year (6 April to 5 April).
The office door slowly opened, Tina’s face peered into the room she glanced around until her bloodshot eyes met mine and her silent finger drew me into the corridor. I made my excuses, slipping from the hot office to the cool corridor. Tina’s words were fast, agitated and broken by sniffles. I caught the main gist quickly
Brenda’s unconscious in the toilets
Oh my goodness, Have you called an ambulance, what’s happened? As we stride out towards the toilets
No, she wouldn’t want us to call an ambulance. I’m confused, this seems odd to choose not to call an ambulance on request from a currently unconscious person who isn’t a doctor
She can argue with us when, IF, she regains consciousness. Let’s call an ambulance. As we walk briskly Tina seems to be calming down. Maybe it’s my clarity of belief about what to do
She’s an alcoholic, there are 3 empty bottles of wine by her, she’ll probably recover and be really angry with us. Now I begin to understand. Alcoholism has destroyed people I know, suicides, broken families, debt. An alcoholic might not even admit they have an addiction and hiding the symptoms is something they’re extremely good at doing. I’m angry and more determined to get medical intervention from professionals
Are we able to know that she’s unconscious just because of the alcohol, are we sure she hasn’t had a heart attack or brain haemorrhage? We’re not doctors, we can’t know, she might die for all we know I’ve already dialled 999 while talking. Tina clearly can’t break a promise to a friend. Tina stopped crying, we walk into the women toilets.
Brenda is on the floor wedged against the door, I take advice from the paramedic. Angela is pacing the toilets, tears streaming down her face, her crying is more like screaming. I want to slap her. I suppress the urge and hug her. Angela and Tina have been trying to sort this out alone for several hours. Trying to talk an alcoholic down to get help, trying to use what they think is a mutual friendship. While we wait for the ambulance Angela and Tina pour out their stories of Benda’s long history of alcoholism. So much pain and they’ve both taken ownership of it, they’re both seemingly paralyzed by their friendship with Brenda and what looks to me like overt Machiavellian manipulation of that privilege by Brenda.
The paramedics arrive and quickly assess the situation, taking Brenda away. I explain to Tina and Angela that I’ll take full responsibility for the decision to call the ambulance, they should point Brenda to me when she comes back. Then I had to deal with my own anger. I hate alcoholism. I have my own addiction (smoking), I have some empathy with addiction but I can’t deal with alcoholism. For me it dehumanisers the addict, they cease to be a person, they become a manipulative being who’s sole aim is to feed their habit and they trample on so many good hearts along the way.
Dad and I, spring of 1990. Mum and dad had come to visit me while I was studying for a PhD.
Mumzie took the photo. It captures a lot of us both and our relationship. Our profiles are very similar, though dad had these wonderfully entertaining wild, overgrown eyebrows that luckily I haven’t inherited.
This blog post is bought to you courtesy of ‘procrastination’ and the letter T
Received an unbirthday present on my birthday. Mind imploding concept. There was carrot cake and singing to celebrate.
The Sunday newspaper is on the Settee, help yourself. Would you like a mug of tea?
It’s a beautifully brewed tea in a large bone china mug that’s decorated in the style of Charles Rene Macintosh. Mum knows I like his designs and has taken to always giving me this mug, it’s my favourite mug without my having told her. My mug in mum’s kitchen.
Opening the broadsheet in the centre of the sun filled living room floor I read about Oscar Pistoriois‘s trial results, Samantha Morton’s description of her experience in care homes in the UK, and statistics about Scottish voting tendencies. Radio 2, concert in Hyde park, Christy Hynde, plays in the background.
Mum brings over a handful of paint colour swatches. She wants my thoughts on what colours to paint the room. Was dad’s room.. We discuss feature coloured walls, wall paper, curtains, styles. She’s pleased that I’ve given her some ideas.
My mug of tea magically refills, a bottomless mug.
This is the fabulous home that I relocated back to Britain to share, the home I’ll be leaving this autumn. I’ve left many times. This time leaving is coupled with the knowledge that coming back will soon not be possible.
People open their windows & doors to catch any breeze that might wander by
Official warnings of a ‘heat wave’ and health concerns because Britons are not familiar with how to behave safely, healthily in hot weather
Tempers and temperatures are rising
From my open doors and windows I can hear the family frictions of neighbours in the surrounding streets, beyond my immediate neighbours. When they shout I can hear what they say. Shouts blown in the breeze to me.
Living alone, I have no-one to shout at.
Living alone, I have nothing I want to shout at anyone about. I don’t recall ever shouting at people that I lived with. But it must have happened and I’ve conveniently forgotten it in the peace of my own home. No-one wants to invite shouting into their home, it must just happen somehow.
In the heat Sampo and I lounge around in the shade. She tells me about it, but doesn’t shout.
Windows and doors are closed when the thunder and lightening hit. As if the world is objecting to all the shouting and demonstrating this by shouting right back with a stormy temper beyond that of any mortal. Unlike Sampo, I love the thunder and lightening storms. The sound of rain pounding on the roof and the way they whipe the slate, garden and street clean.
The Estate agent responsible for selling the Wendy House offered me the opportunity to give feedback on the details they’d produced, before they were published. I suggested a few changes that raised the profile of a few desirable features.
The agent didn’t confirm receiving my feedback or making any changes. After a couple of weeks I included the following (blue text) in an email to the Agent. The Agent replied in red..
With a good attitude the Agent would’ve recognised my point about size and suggested a phrase to conveys the double size parking space. On one occasion I’ve had 3 small cars parked there. I’ve suggested “Offload parking for 2 cars”, that saves the lazy estate agent the trouble of measuring my drive.
I’m annoyed by the Agent’s attitude. Based on this, and other examples of their sloppy attitude and service, I will have no qualms about changing providers at the end of our contract.
<rant probably not finished, just temporarily paused>
Wendy: Mum! I’ve found some beautiful old-fashioned style furniture, like Grandma used to have. It’s imitation 1700’s and probably really from around the 1900’s
mumzie: have you looked inside the doors and drawers to see if it’s labelled? There was a good reproduction furniture maker in Nettlebed
Wendy: Nettlebed?! That’s nearby, Sue Ryder have a beautiful big place there
Kevin and Wayne enjoy the rare rays of the August bank holiday. Eastbourne is buzzing, um, humming, um singly-rubbing with the laughter of cost-courting couples and the plunk-plunk of walking sticks. Kevin and Wayne aren’t expecting a rush of water-based emergencies, few people can make their way successfully across the shingle to even reach the waterfront.
Kevin meant to bring his study notes to the beach, but what the heck, this is his summer holiday, watching the sky is a good way to get beer money for the term. At least he’s not stuck in the kitchen’s of Wetherspoons – a living he’ll on earth. No one warned him that student life was about being a servant class for 3 years before struggling for a job. Now, this is the life, outside enjoying the world go by.
The black clouds are gathering. Cunning visitors have been using outsized umbrellas as walking sticks. No-one will be put off by a short or long downpour. This is their holiday and they WILL enjoy it.
The white painted walls remind me of the peaceful optimism of Scandinavian homes. Each room is quietly alive with freshly picked garden flowers. A Sweetpea aroma gently fills the kitchen following the fresh, daily, baked bread scent.
The visiting writers gather for lunch in the courtyard in the shade of a massive awning hung from Bob’s workshop. The conversation moves smoothly from light entertainment through the business of writing to the content of novels. Always engaging, such good company. Writers come from all over the country, the world. I’ve met Americans and South Africans here. Given that almost everyone is writing a novel, I’m normally the exception, I still find the diversity of guests’ age and experience an unexpected and pleasant surprise.
I feel welcomed by all and rarely actually want to leave…
Easter Sunday, sated on a tender lamb roast with the trimmings including a cheeky little mint sauce. We indulge in a favoured family tradition, settling down to watch the Boat race. We all support Oxford for reasons long since lost in the Ethernet. Mum suspects it’s because they used to loose a lot when she was a gal and we should support the underdog.
The ‘House’ style for watching THE boat race is diverse. I was the only person who did it with open eyes despite the thick, percolated, coffee supplied by mumsie from one of her 20 or so prized percolators. I’ll call her ‘Grandmum’ because we are in the presence of her grandchildren.
Bros 62 assumes the horizontal position for viewing enhancement. Pointing his beard between his distant toes.
Niece 92 ensures the blood-flow to her head by placing her legs on the footstool mumsie has procured for her comfort. At first I though that niece 92 forgot to put a skirt on over her pantyhose when she left home this morning. Apparently this is a style feature. She is proud of consecutive years of not wearing shorts or a skirt to keep her bum warm. She’s receiving as-it-happens updates from her friends though her much-prized iphone. She’s a tall and creative genius who demonstrates it in many pleasing ways.
Niece 94 is multitasking, she’s a formal thinking high-flyer. Revising for her maths A level while watching the boat race, drinking evil coffee and possibly simulating sleep. What is she doing under that hair? A woman of infinite mystery at just 17.
While sister-in-law has resisted the black attire favoured by her hubby and daughters, she can’t resist the sleep inducing effect of grandmum’s classic 1960’s Parker Knoll rocker.
Synchronised snoring with the cats
Normality temporarily resumed
breakfast bouncer: What room are you in?
breakfast bouncer: I don’t know that room
wendy: maybe it’s floor 1 room 18? My check-in card says 118 (holds-up check-in card)
After checking my name a hefty line was drawn through the paper sheet that listed the breakfast sentences of hotel guests.
breakfast bouncer: just to let you know, the toaster’s not working, do you want white or brown toast?
wendy: (confused, pauses)
breakfast bouncer: DO you WANT white or BROWN toast?
Wendy: Brown, please?
The bouncer sent me to my seat with an instructive arm wave. Minutes later returning to tell me I could get myself tea and fruit juice. Timidly, I left my allotted cell and made myself a tea. Sometimes it can be a bit of a trial not pissing-off the British breakfast bouncers.
Today I failed.
The pinacle gold highlight position for our teams’ recent Snowdonia hiking goes to:
Being completely there, watching where I place my foot, thinking about my balance, taking a deep breath of damp unpolluted air. My mind so totally wrapped up in the here and now that nothing bursts in. The details of work, home ownership, family membership are temporarily lost behind being on a mountain.
Even when I take a break from walking to soak-up the view I am still totally immersed in being on that mountain. The feeling is exquisit and rare. For me it compares to some unpublishable experiences and:
This experience achieved ‘4 Smiles’ on the Wendy House rating scale – Ratings explained
This highlight alone more than cancels out all the nastiness of the 3 winning downsides:
We left the Plas Curig Hostel holding a weather forcast of rain, sunshine, thunderstorm and hail. Hoorah! No half-measures in this August forecast! A veritable buffet, lots of bite-sized variety chunks.
“Duck for the lightening, avoid the ridge, and for heavens sake don’t stand in the water!”
Watching the lightening strike against the black clouds on nearby peaks was exquisit. Counting the seconds ’til the thunder struck then shaking with its power.
Walking through one of the most dramatic scenes in the world, laid on just for us. We walked on through the sunshine towards a rainbow. No camera, film crew, special effects designer involved – just us directly experiencing the full weather experience – live, unmediated. Very sexy.
This experience achieved ‘3 Smiles’ on the Wendy House rating scale – Ratings explained
This highlight more than cancels out all the nastiness of the 3 winning downsides:
The only bog I want to see from now on is white and made of porcelain (anon)
Before karmic predictability brings the awards for the mountain highs I am proud to present the gold winner of our Snowdonia hiking teams’ lowest experience:
The bog and lack of opportunites it ironically supplied for private, midgeless, ‘wild wees’ were the lowest point of our Tryfan hike.
The bog on Tryfan is high up, soon after the relief of summiting. It’s relatively flat open land on a gently curving ridge. See how pretty it looks:
It’s like walking on a sodden sponge
schhhhlllllop….. ….schhhhhlllllup…. ….sccchhhhhhhhhhllllllllop
There were times when I wanted to use both of my hands to pull my foot out from its last step. Thank goodness for waterproof, tightly tied-on boots. One walker demonstrated that his 6ft pole was easily swallowed by the bog, just a few feet away from our trail. That depth of water could easily submerge everyone of our party. We cautiously stayed on-trail, behind our guide. Hmmmm…. …..nice firm looking bottom ahead…..
All this water and nowhere to pee in privacy, not a pert little boulder or little rise to sneak behind. The sound of schlurping water taunted our middle-aged bladders. 10 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour on the bog…. it just goes on and on and on….
The bog broke our spirits as surely as chinese water torture.
This experience achieved ‘3 Frowns’ on the Wendy House rating scale – Ratings explained
Welcome to the 2nd in a mini series of mountainous, yet not Olympian, awards for our teams’ Snowdonia hiking experiences. In the tradition of reverse-order announcements we’re first going through the downsides, then we’ll celebrate the upsides. 2nd place for the downsides goes to…
Single handedly I saved the lives of about 100 midges by providing essential blood supplies from my face, neck and ears. More generous hikers got their arms, cleavages and backsides out for the banquet.
These midges curtailed all of our rest breaks. Our lunch stop lasted less than 10 minutes. It takes about 10 minutes for a few stray midges to gather a swarm and target us. While we kept moving we just walked into stray midges, lone biters. So generally we just kept moving and I was left popping peanuts to make up my lunch.
How do such large swarms of midges survive on the top of this mountain? Midge food in the form of other hikers and the sheep were both few and far between – so what do they eat when mammals aren’t about? Are they canabalistic?
We saw quite a few happy bog frogs. Frogs eat insects. Midges are insects. Those frogs really do need to up their gameplan, be much more active….
EAT more MIDGES!
This experience achieved ‘2 Frowns’ on the Wendy House rating scale – Ratings explained
England has a long history of rioting. In 1714 an act of parliament was introduced to try and deal with this national passtime – “the act for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies” with the more snappy popular title of “the riot act” . The riot act let local authorities declare to a group of twelve or more people that they were unlawfully assembled and ask them to disperse within the hour or be punished. The riot act would be read to the assembled people:
Our Sovereign Lord the King chargeth and commandeth all persons, being assembled, immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the act made in the first year of King George, for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies. God Save the King!
It had to be read precisely. It was a hanging offense to not disperse within the hour. Some prosecutions were overturned in court because the proclamator forgot to read “God save the King!” The act included the death penalty, later transportation and was last used in 1919 on the Wirral. The act ceased to be law in 1975
The phrase ‘read the riot act’ is still used colloquially as a warning to cease serious misbehaviour…
I gave up trying to compile a decent list of riots in mainland England because it was getting way too long
This left me wondering how to distinguish revolution, rebellion and riot…
A quiet sunday morning roam along the Dungeness coastline, interrupted by this sign:
Did I say quiet?
Screeching of Guls, wushing wind, waves rythmically shifting shingle, the humming Nuclear Power stations.
No persons, authorised or otherwise, near the scattered boats. No sign of the silent, dangerous, machinery that is in use at all times. No walls, fences, or barbed wire re-inforced the message of no access. Just the signed threat.
Dangerous, invisible, mysterious boat machinery? Maybe, here, boat booms live up to their name. When you come too close, the booms burst your eardrums, induce heart attacks. Maybe Jibs can jab like knives. Forwarned, I turned inland, pulled down my hat, and braced myself for a hike to the lighthouse. Exchanging an uncertain threat for the draw of machinery designed to protect
Judging by the items in the shop window, EXtreme urban clothing involves brightly coloured trousers, t-shirts, shirts and trainers. Compared to the black and grey commuters on the London tube, this is indeed extreme….
After looking for a place to live in Reading I returned to the US to wrap-up the move. On British Airways while completing an immigration form, I94
Air staff: do you have a visa
Wendy: I have an advanced parole
Air staff: are you a criminal?
Wendy: Advanced parole is the US document used as a Visa when you have almost got a greencard
Air staff: I’ve never heard of that before
I like the way that British staff happily display their lack of knowledge.
respect the pole on this International workers, Labour day. In Seattle many immigrants celebrate by peacefully, silently, marching downtown. Last year it was described as “A day without immigrants” raising awareness of their often invisible contribution to labour in major cities all over the USA. The USA allocated a different day to celebrate it’s workers, in doing so it left this international day open, for its international community, its immigrants.
UK court verdict on US shooting of UK soldier: unlawful, avoidable killing. A US plane twice fired on a convoy of UK troops whose vehicles were marked with the pre-agreed orange fabric. The BBC reports a transcript from the US plane crew:
“At the start of the attack, one pilot notices orange panels on the vehicles and asks whether there could be any friendly units in the area… …Pilots open fire but soon the error is realised and they are informed that friendly units were in the area“
There are lots of disturbing threads to the stories as published in the British press. I hear them daily on radio, TV, internet and newspapers. The most disturbing, unexplicit, storyline is that the US conduct their internal investigations to find themselves innocent. For the USA it is reasonable that they ignore the standard NATO symbol for identifying NATO vehicles. For the USA it is reasonable to make sure evidence is not made available to NATO allies by lying, denying the existence of the cockpit tapes.
The crux of the different verdicts are reported as based around a difference in the UK and the USA ‘rules for engagement’ without these rules of engagement explicitly being reported, a British soldier comments that:
“the incident would not have happened if American troops had as strict rules as the British on opening fire.”
This is not a unique verdit, where the US has been (ir)responsible for the death of UK soldiers. The incident has an analogous dynamic to many USA’s engagements with other Nations and Nationals. The USA look gun-happy in so many ways, internal laws, internal crime statistics, international diplomacy and even in its dealings with its allies.
British people I meet wonder how I can stand to live in the USA, they variously refer to the USA as an immature, ignorant, greedy, fat, dishonest, sick, bully.
UK Vacation 9
This ball is near the Waterfront in Bristol. The steps coming out of it suggest the scale. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to stand underneath it and take a picture of the distorted view within one panel including passers-by.
:: DISCO ::
I’m about to spend a week driving in the UK. I’ll be reading Ben Elton’s “Gridlock” (review from ‘Punch’ 1991). The book title alone is personally relevant given the time I’ll be spending in s ‘Small Car” (Peugeot 205) on infamous roads!
I’ll be driving on the M25 (nicknamed ‘Road to Hell), the London North Circular, A4, A40 M4, M40, M3, M23, M27, and other lesser known but equally mystical highways. I do find British roads fascintating. There is even a webpage describing infamous bad Motorway junctions!. Such a thoughtful service to internet enabled drivers.
The infamous Swindon “magic roundabout” is just one of those life experiences that everyone should have
It is the ultimate ‘traffic calming’ device. You have no idea where you should be going, where another confused driver might be coming from, or who has the right of way. The ony safe strategy is to drive extremely slowly, keep looking around, and ignore your mobile phone..!
I must confess my road-geeky-ness inspired me to read Jack Kerouac’s book.
I love the description of Ben’s book as a “Comedy Thriller“. That description applies directly to roads and junctions like the Magic Roundabout!
Excerpt from the linked review:
“Gridlock is about that den of capitalist conspiracy, that teeming cesspit of iniquity, that well-known centre of the military-industrial complex, the…er…car industry. Yes, that’s right. Elton has got a bee in his bonnet about motor cars. He doesn’t like their macho image, he doesn’t like their snooty names, and he doesn’t like the carbon monoxide they spew out into the atmosphere. Above all, he doesn’t like traffic jams. Faced with a traffic jam, Elton starts frothing at the mouth with righteous indignation. In Elton’s exaggerated, hyped-up view, traffic jams are responsible for the death of innocent babies. In one scene, for instance, a heart destined for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital gets held up in a traffic jam and the patient dies.”
When I return I’ll let you know if the actual book lives up to this generally rather unencouraging review. I know the roads so well already they are like old friends
Sleep tight, Wendy