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You are currently browsing the yearly archive for 2012.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidShould auld acquaintance be forgot
and never brought to mind…

Rabbie Burns

At this point – as the final full stop punctuates the ultimate paragraph on the page of 2012 and the leaf turns wearily to reveal the blank sheet that apprehensively anticipates the first words of 2013 – it is quite natural to take a last long look back at the events and happenings of the past twelve months before turning our anxious gaze once more to the future. Have we – by this reckoning – achieved those aims that we set ourselves at the outset of the year? Have we grasped the opportunities that have arisen unexpectedly since then? Can we – in short – feel satisfied that we have filled each “unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run”?

Well – maybe not entirely, though it is hard to imagine quite what else might have been done. This has certainly been a year in which the unexpected has trumped all carefully considered stratagems – in which squalls and tempests have blown apart accustomed weather patterns, both literally and figuratively. Of the specific aims and ambitions that we had ourselves formulated at the start of the year few now remain – having been scattered to the far corners of the earth by the rough winds of events – and yet we survive intact, as do our long term dreams and intents. There is yet much to learn from the experience.

I am not much of a one for New Year resolutions – those inflexible tenets that rarely survive intact the icy blasts of winter. We do – however – clearly need to re-focus our thoughts and to re-discover our ‘mojos’. This will probably take some time as we accustom ourselves to our new circumstances – and as the dark decurtate days of winter slowly give way to the renaissance that is spring. This tradition of mirroring our own development to the rebirth of the year through the change of the seasons is as ancient and timeless as the land itself and I see no reason to tinker with nature’s tenacious tutelage.

One thing I must do at this juncture, however, is to express my humble and heartfelt thanks to all those friends, family and acquaintances who have helped, supported and succored us both through this last year. Our gratitude is undying and we will do our very best to repay your kindnesses as we may.

All that remains is for me to wish you all a very Happy Hogmany.

“A guid New Year to ane an’ a’ and mony may ye see”



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…to friends, acquaintances and gentle readers…

from the Kickass Canada Girl and the Imperceptible Immigrant.

Have a wonderful holiday!

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

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I make no apologies for posting this. Great song – righteous cause…

For more background see here. For recent news update see here.

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photo by Tomas Fano on Flickrin·def·i·nite

1.   not definite; without fixed or specified limit; unlimited: an indefinite number.

2.   not clearly defined or determined; not precise or exact: an indefinite boundary; an indefinite date in the future.

For those who came upon this post whilst searching the InterWebNet for information related to applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain or Permanent Residency for Canada – or for those who, like me, just require a sense of completeness or closure – I thought I should provide a brief overview of the tortuous passage that the Kickass Canada Girl and I negotiated earlier this year – and of how that particular journey ended.

As the Girl is – obviously – Canadian and I am far too old to be considered of any use to the Canadian (or indeed any other) economy, my particular route to permanent residency was inevitably going to involve sponsorship by my spouse – the aforementioned KACG. The thinking and logic behind this were outlined in ‘A Tough Occupation‘.

I subsequently gave more details of the Girl’s side of the process in ‘A Word from our Sponsor‘ and an outline of what I would be required to do in ‘Prerequisites‘. ‘Doctor, Doctor‘ tells the convoluted tale of the hoops through which this particular applicant had to jump to acquire the necessary medical certificate, whilst ‘A Little Application… 1‘ and ‘A Little Application… 2‘ completed the description of the plethora of forms that must be filled out and the extensive quantity of supporting information that must be submitted along with them. By the end of June – when I traveled to Victoria to spend a couple of frazzled weeks with the Girl and our dear friends in Saanichton – everything was complete on my side and I carried a weighty package of documentation with me which I handed over to the Girl to accompany her submission to Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

At this point the trail goes cold. Those who follow these things avidly will be wondering what has happened to my application since then and what effect our recent change of plan will have had upon it.

The short answer is – nothing!

The application was never actually submitted. The Girl – who as part of the sponsorship deal was going to have to agree to support me financially (if so called upon) for three years – was not able to file her submission as her employment details could not be completed until her six month probationary period was up. As it turned out her appointment was confirmed a mere couple of weeks before things turned bad and the whole deal went ‘tits-up’ – to avail myself of the vernacular. The completed forms and supporting documentation are once again crossing the Atlantic as I write, this time to be put into storage until such time as we are ready to start the process over again.

As it happens this is a good thing, since once permanent residency has been granted there is a time limit for moving to Canada. It would have been most annoying for the application to have succeeded and for us then to find ourselves unable to avail ourselves of it before it expired.

Once again we find ourselves looking on the bright side – which is, of course, a good thing!


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It is 41 weeks since the Kickass Canada Girl moved to Victoria to take up the job there that we had hoped would see her through to retirement and me becoming a permanent resident of Canada. This weekend – in the brave new world in which we now find ourselves – she flies back into Heathrow to resume her life here in England, with our relocation to British Columbia postponed until some as yet unspecified date in the future.

Welcome back, Kickass Canada Girl!

This post is my one hundred and second since the Girl left for Victoria in early March and my one hundred and twenty first since I took up blogging towards the end of January this year. I suppose the obvious question in this regard is  – do I carry on blogging now that the balance of my life has swung away from immigration and towards imperceptibility?

It would be entirely understandable if regular readers were to curl their lips in disdain and demand to know – since the stated theme and purpose of this blog no longer exactly holds (at least in the short term) – why they should continue to waste their time on my picaresque meanderings. They would indeed have a point and I would not blame them for dropping out at this point.

However – as you may already have deduced from the tone of the above – my initial reaction is to carry on blogging regardless in the hope that some of what I write may still be of interest. The Girl and I have many connections in Canada and we will inevitably be visiting as time goes by, though our next trip will probably not now be until next summer. Hopefully my contributions on trans-Atlantic life will continue to resonate, creating perhaps something of a virtual connection between our communities of friends on both sides of the ocean.

Truth be told I have enjoyed blogging this year. The self-imposed discipline of having to produce posts on a regular basis was particularly beneficial whilst I was living on my own and will, I believe, continue to be so once the Girl and I are fully reunited. Writing virtually daily is terribly good practice and the need to polish the resultant prolix prose into concise, pithy and apposite nuggets is slowly imbuing in me a most useful skill in an area that has perhaps previously been somewhat neglected.

So – with your kind permission – I will carry on…

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It is pretty clear that the fallout from our recent and comprehensive change of plans will take a considerable time to assimilate. The repercussions will undoubtedly be extensive and at this point we can’t even begin to guess at the eventual outcome. One thing that is pretty certain already, however, is that I am now most unlikely to retire next summer as previously planned.

The Kickass Canada Girl and I still firmly intend to relocate to Canada, though this will now probably take place somewhat later than we had originally intended. I could consider retirement at any point – finances permitting – much as I have done already, but the Girl – being younger than I – will certainly have to work for a few more years yet. As it seems that jobs in BC in her field are likely to be hard to come by for the foreseeable future we will almost certainly be staying in the UK for the time being.

This in itself is no great hardship of course. We both love Britain as well as Canada and there are plenty of things that we still wish to do this side of the pond. In some ways the delay might actually makes things easier. We have not yet found a purchaser for the Buckinghamshire apartment – the market still being as flat as a flat thing – and it would have been considerably more difficult trying to sell the property from a different continent.

The emotional fallout is more difficult to deal with.

No-one likes to feel that they have not completed a job to their own satisfaction. The Girl is seriously good at what she does and is understandably put out that in this case – through no fault of her own – it was not possible to leave things in the way that she would have wished. In this interregnum before starting her new job – and with all the stress of having to leave dear friends in Victoria and to deal with the complexities of moving her life back to the UK – she is having to work hard to stay positive and to focus on the future.

For my part finding that I am not after all to retire at the end of the school year is taking some adjusting to. At my previous school – which I left some seven years ago now – my retirement age would have been 60. It this school it is 65 and until recently I was resigned to working until I reached that milestone. The events of this last year – during which my prospective retirement was advanced initially to two and a half years time and then, when we discovered the grim realities of living apart, to eighteen months – found me having to make a considerable mental adjustment. I had – unfortunately – just about reached the point at which I was fully committed emotionally and psychologically both to retiring within this short time-frame and also to moving immediately to Canada. I had even picked out my Canadian vehicle and boat!

As a result I am now having to work hard to change tack and to launch myself on a different emotional course. I find myself performing the maneuver much like the captain of some ponderous, gargantuan oil tanker. Changing course is certainly possible – but it will take a while…

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Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee

Whether the summer clothe the general earth with greenness or the redbreast sit and sing

Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch smokes in the sun-thaw

Whether the eve-drops fall, heard only in the trances of the blast

Or if the secret ministry of frost shall hang them up in silent icicles

Quietly shining to the quiet moon.

Frost at Midnight

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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I find that I have more to say on the subject of the latest Bond opus – Skyfall.

A period of contemplation found me considering the underlying meaning of the film. This in itself represents a considerable departure for a Bond film. How many of the previous offerings – however enjoyable they might have been – could be said to have a deeper (even if not much deeper) meaning?

Skyfall – on the other hand – does so.

It is entirely apposite that, with the franchise celebrating its 50th anniversary, questions should be asked as to the continuing pertinence of the series. Skyfall chooses to do this at several levels, questioning not only the relevance of Bond to the action film genre itself, but also of Fleming’s cold war ‘blunt instrument’ in the era of cyber espionage, both as a fictional character and also – by extension – in the world of real live spooks… whatever the reality of that might actually be.

This exchange between Bond and Ben Whishaw’s Q – sitting in the National Gallery in front of Turner’s “The Fighting Temeraire” – is germane:

Q: It always makes me feel a bit melancholy. Grand old war ship. being ignominiously haunted away to scrap… The inevitability of time, don’t you think? What do you see?

James Bond: A bloody big ship. Excuse me.

Q: 007. I’m your new Quartermaster.

James Bond: You must be joking.

Q: Why, because I’m not wearing a lab coat?

James Bond: Because you still have spots.

Q: My complexion is hardly relevant.

James Bond: Your competence is.

Q: Age is no guarantee of efficiency.

James Bond: And youth is no guarantee of innovation.

Q: Well, I’ll hazard I can do more damage on my laptop sitting in my pajamas before my first cup of Earl Grey than you can do in a year in the field.

James Bond: Oh, so why do you need me?

Q: Every now and then a trigger has to be pulled.

James Bond: Or not pulled. It’s hard to know which in your pajamas. Q.

Q: 007.

The Turner is, of course, carefully chosen and there is little doubt that Sam Mendes – directing his first action movie – is to thank for bringing his erudition and intelligence to bear on what might otherwise have remained a somewhat dated format.

Mendes also no doubt had a hand in the choice of Tennyson’s ‘Ulysses’, the final stanza of which provides a fitting climax to M’s peroration to the select committee – immediately before all hell breaks loose. I found myself pondering the exact reasoning behind this particular choice and this naturally led me back to the poem itself.

Tennyson’s ‘Ulysses’ takes the form of a dramatic monologue in three parts. In the first Ulysses – having taken 10 years to return home after the Trojan wars and having eventually recovered his long abandoned wife and throne – finds himself enduring a quotidian existence, much vexed by the trivial responsibilities of power. He pines for the glory days of yore, longing once more to be able to travel and to explore.

The second part comprises a relatively brief discourse on the virtues of Ulysses’ son, Telemachus, who will rule in his stead once he is gone. The tone suggests that he sees in Telemachus an altogether less passionate, perhaps more ‘modern’ – even sedulous – approach to the business of statesmanship. His admiration verges on the grudging.

He works his work, I mine.

The third and, perhaps, most oft quoted passage comprises an invocation to his mariners (though those who accompanied him on his ‘odyssey’ are – by most readings – already dead) to engage in one final quest, one last adventure – whilst they still have the strength. The passage culminates with these stirringly elegiac lines:

Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Interpretations of the poem are legion. Tennyson composed it shortly after the death of a close friend, the poet Arthur Henry Hallam, and said of it: “It gave my feeling about the need of going forward and braving the struggle of life.” There is – as a result – much debate as to what extent Tennyson’s reading of Ulysses is autobiographical. This in turn informs a debate as to the ironical (or otherwise) nature of the poem. This view makes play of the apparent inconsistencies in the character of Ulysses across the poem as a whole.

Most interpretations do, however, seem to consider the closing stanzas inspirational – an invocation of the heroic – and as a result they are much used as mottoes by schools and other similar institutions. The last three lines are engraved on a cross at Observation Hill in Antarctica to commemorate Captain Scott and his party.

My reading is somewhat different. The subject to me seems to be loss. Ulysses is in reality – as Thomas has it – ‘raging against the dying of the light’. He recognises that his long moment in the sun is behind him, and though he comes out of his corner bravely – puffing out his chest and taking on all comers – he actually knows that the game is up.

It is, of course, in the nature of a true work of genius that each of us may find in it our own truths – our own meanings. Though Skyfall is itself certainly no work of genius I am indebted to it for leading me back to these other classics – and for making me think a little…

…and that is certainly more than can be said of any number of other like films.

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Long distance runaround
Long time waiting to feel the sound
I still remember the dream there
I still remember the time you said goodbye
Did we really tell lies
Letting in the sunshine
Did we really count to one hundred

Jon Anderson

One here for the Kickass Canada Girl, who has a bit of a ‘thing’ about the 300SL Gullwing. Well – who doesn’t?

The Girl is on her way to Victoria – via Hong Kong and Vancouver! This somewhat bizarre route is a result of the complete change of plan between booking a return ticket from Canada to attend our good friends’ wedding in Hong Kong at the start of November, and then later realising that she would also need to get to London by November 6th for a job interview. The only course open to her was to book another return flight from Hong Kong to London and then to adjust the return flight dates so that they co-coincided. As a result she now has a 24 hour stop-over in Hong Kong before carrying on to British Columbia.

Once she has wrapped up her affairs there and re-packed all her belongings for the return to England, she has a relatively simple return journey – in two weeks time – via Vancouver and Chicago! Well – when you are booking last(ish) minute in the run up to Christmas you have to take what you can get…

When she returns one thing in our lives will have changed – hopefully for good. We will no longer be in a Long Distance Relationship – or LDR as the TLA has it. Those who have followed these posts for a while may well have seen some of my previous musings on the subject. If you have come to this post as the result of a Google search on such matters let me refer you here, here, here and here where you might find some slightly more useful material. If you want to know how living apart has been over this last ten months, the Long Distance Relationships category herein will guide you to any number of my grumbles and gripes.

That I am sounding valedictory on the subject (if such one can be) is because the first – and most important – of the many lessons that I am sure the Girl and I will learn from this… unusual… year, is that we should not be apart! We didn’t like it – we won’t do it any more!

To those of you whose LDRs must persist – or to anyone about to embark on such – you have our heartfelt sympathies. Of course, for some people it works… for us it was tough, unpleasant, painful and definitely not to be repeated.

So – raising a wee dram to those that must endure – I say “Sealbh math dhuibh”.

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Those who expect moments of change to be comfortable and free of conflict have not learned their history.

Joan Wallach Scott

“The time has come” – as the Walrus said – ” to talk of many things…”

More specifically the time has finally come to talk about how our lives have – once again – been dramatically altered over the last month, to the extent that all of our previous plans have had to be thrown out of the window and we must now start over again.

Put simply – Kickass Canada Girl no longer has a job in BC. In fact – for a over a month the Girl has had no job at all!

The facts are these:

The position in Victoria did not work out. These things happen and we need not go into the whys and wherefores here. Needless to say this eventuality was not anticipated and has required urgent re-adjustment of our plans and priorities.

As it turns out there are – quite simply – no other equivalent jobs going in Victoria at the moment. Indeed there are none in BC – in part as a result of the current provincial government hiring freeze there. The Girl had little choice but to return to the UK to seek employment here. She came back directly from Hong Kong after our visit there at the start of the month and has since then been attending interviews here.

And the good news? This very day the Girl has landed a plum new post in the UK which she will take up early in the new year. This will come as absolutely no surprise to all those of us who know her and recognise her totally kick-ass qualities. Well done Kickass Canada Girl!!

I will – naturally – write much more over the coming weeks on the subject of how our lives will change and what this will mean for our longer term plans. For the moment we are just happy to have been re-united, and to be able to move forward again.

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