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June 2012

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An unexpected treat – a day out at the Henley Royal Regatta courtesy of a (young!) ‘old boy’ who is a partner in a software company whose system is used extensively by the School. I have enjoyed many days at Henley over the years, but this was the first occasion on which I was the guest of a former schoolboy and Oxford oarsman. I have been entertained as a guest in the Steward’s enclosure before but have never previously visited Leander itself, nor been invited into the boathouses.

Though the School’s first VIII was knocked out of the main schools’ competition (The Princess Elizabeth Cup) in the morning, our day was made by staying late to watch our under 16 crew who had managed to qualify for The Temple Challenge Cup – which event is ostensibly for Universities. Half a length down to Nottingham University at the halfway mark they then proceeded to row through the much older and heavier crew, beating them to the line by a canvas. Excellent and heroic stuff!

Here are some pictures from the day:


Something I have not seen before – Pimms on tap!!

Another surprise! The Gloriana – the Royal Barge built to lead the Jubilee flotilla on the Thames in London earlier this month – was moored by Leander.

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The last week of the academic year always feels slightly unreal.

Examinations have finished, the leavers are itching to be gone and those lesser boys who must return after the long summer break have already lost their focus and motivation and are dreaming of other places and other personas.

The academic staff – racing against time to complete hundreds of reports and to assign thousands of grades – have become fractious and argumentative and are struggling to clear their desks before term ends on Friday.

The support staff do not get academic holidays and will thus be in School throughout the summer months. They scowl irritably, knowing that the next time they see most of the academics will be in the last few frantic days before the new teaching year starts at the end of August, when all manner of last-minute and barely-reasonable requests will be made which, with but a little foresight, could well have been met over the summer break.

As usual I fall between the two stools. The fact that I teach drama means that I too must report and grade, and that I am only too aware that my remaining classes are unlikely to attain the heights of a few short weeks ago. Then, in a few days – and with my IT hat on – I must co-ordinate a complex programme of summer works, culminating in the rush to be ready for the new year…

…or that is what I would be doing were it not that the Kickass Canada Girl is waiting for me (im)patiently in BC. In actual fact – when the boys leave at morning break on Friday – my deputy will drive me directly to Heathrow and I will be on a plane for Calgary – en route to Victoria – by 13:30.

Which is a very good thing – for this has without question been a tough year thus far. I – for one – have a pretty good idea how a battery might feel (should batteries have feelings!) at the point at which the charge starts to falter, the power drains away and the last remaining dregs of energy are no longer sufficient to to keep the system running.

I need a recharge…

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It has taken six weeks and has involved a great deal of ferreting out of information, hunting down old photographs, recovering long-lost documents and battling with a sometimes baffling bureaucracy – but, finally, I believe that the job is done and the task is complete. My application for Canadian permanent residency is ready to go!

For the record the package comprises:

  • 1 x completed form – IMM 008 – General Application Form for Canada
  • 1 x completed form – IMM5669 – Schedule A – Background/Declaration
  • 1 x completed form – IMM 5406 – Additional Family Information
  • 1 x completed form – IMM 5490 – Sponsored Spouse/Partner Questionnaire

Supporting documentation comprises:

Identity and Civil Status Documents

  • 1 x copy of birth certificate
  • 1 x copy if driving license
  • 1 x copy of marriage certificate
  • 1 x copy of previous divorce certificate

Travel Documents and Passports

  • 1 x copy of passport

Proof of Relationship to Sponsor

  • 11 x copies of photographs of the two of us taken on holidays and at other events over the past 7 years
  • 6 x copies of photographs of our wedding and reception in Victoria
  • 2 x copies of photographs taken on our honeymoon
  • 6 x copies of photographs taken at our wedding blessing ceremony in the UK
  • 1 x copy of our wedding invitation
  • 1 x copy of our wedding blessing ceremony invitation
  • 1 x copy of our wedding ‘thank you’ card
  • 1 x copy of a screen-capture showing a small number of the 3000+ emails we have exchanged over the last 7 years
  • 3 x copies of flight confirmations for our last three trips between the UK and Canada

Police Certificates and Clearances

  • 1 x Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) – Police Certificate

Proof of Medical Examination

  • 1 x completed and stamped form IMM 1017 Medical Report – Section A


  • 8 x photographs to the specification in IMM 3901 Sponsorship of a Spouse, Common-law Partner,Conjugal Partner or Dependant Child Living Outside Canada – Part 3 – Country Specific Instruction (Western Europe) – Appendix B: Photo Specifications

Other Documentation

  • 1 x completed document checklist from IMM 3901 Sponsorship of a Spouse, Common-law Partner,Conjugal Partner or Dependant Child Living Outside Canada – Part 3 – Country Specific Instruction (Western Europe) – Appendix A: Document Checklist – Immigrant

This bundle will accompany me to Canada when I travel next Friday (hooray!!) and will there we joined to Kickass Canada Girl’s similar agglomeration (see here for details) before – finally – being submitted to Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Then we must wait with fingers, legs, eyes – and everything else – firmly crossed.

And then – I think – we will deserve a drink!

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I have spent much of the last two weeks filling out the forms to support my application for Canadian permanent residency. You may ask how it can possibly take such a long time to complete a few forms, and indeed that is a good question. The answer – as hinted at in previous posts on the subject – lies in the fact that I am applying through the family sponsorship route with my spouse as the sponsor. This requires – rightly in my view – a fair amount of supporting evidence.

The process is clearly designed to weed out applications from those engaged in ‘sham’ marriages and focuses extensively on the course of the relationship. Amongst the questions to which I am required to respond are the following:

  • Where and how did we meet?
  • Was the meeting arranged?
  • Were gifts exchanged at the first meeting?
  • How did the relationship develop – meetings, dates, trips etc?
  • Did our families and friends know about the relationship?
  • When did my spouse meet my family and close friends?
  • Are we married?
  • When and how did we get engaged?
  • Where was the wedding and who attended?
  • Where did we go on honeymoon?
  • Have we been living together – if so where and when?
  • If currently not together, have we visited each other since parting?
  • How often – by what means and in what language – do we correspond?

There is a fair bit more along these lines and for each answer we are required to provide supporting documentation in the form of photographs, itineraries, letters, emails and so forth.

Somewhat darker is the tenor of such questions as:

  • Was there a formal celebration of your engagement? If not – why not? (my emboldening and italics!)

I don’t much care for the tone of this but I am certainly not going to take any chances, so I answer cautiously and completely.

Digging out the answers to all of these questions – not to mention the supporting documentation – takes a fair bit of time and effort. Kickass Canada Girl and I have been together for more than 7 years and, for a brain as old as mine, remembering all of the gruesome details takes some doing. I simply didn’t recall when the Girl first met my family! It took a fair bit of detective work – involving ploughing through old emails looking for hints (yes – I have kept all of the Girl’s emails – more than 3000 of them!) and decoding the cryptic cyphers that comprise her diary entries – to come up with a plausible timeline for the events of half a decade ago and more.

It is, however, well worth it for the ultimate prize – and this keeps me nicely focused whenever I get a little grumpy or start to cut up rough!

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“Sometimes I feel like I’m fine on my own,
Fifty Thousand miles from home.
Sometimes I’m weak and the past is my guide,
Summer returns and puts you back on my mind”

Crazy English Summer – Faithless

Following the two weeks of blazing weather at the end of May which came to an abrupt end – inevitably – just in time for the Jubilee weekend, this crazy English summer has been predictably unpredictable. Odd sunny days – more torrential rain – cold, windy spells – grey, grey, grey…

Here are a few images snapped on the Fuji x10.


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Now that Kickass Canada Girl and I have each paid a visit to the other, subsequent to her move back to Canada in March, some of the side-effects of living at a distance are becoming more apparent.

We have – in great measure – got the hang of residing on different continents. We don’t like it much, and certainly wouldn’t want to do so for longer than is absolutely necessary, but we believe that we can make it work. Visits in either direction are, in the main, joyous occasions. Meeting each other again – as it were – can be a powerfully emotive experience.

The hardest part though – for me at any rate – seems to be the transition between one state and the other.

I posted last month regarding the Girl’s recent visit to the UK, and how her arrival made me realise the extent to which I had built up a protective layer such that I might live without her with the minimum of emotional discomfort. Close observation throughout the course of her visit has revealed rather more about how these things work – as least for us – both at the ingress and egress of her stay.

Before the Girl arrived I was gripped – needless to say – by eager and impatient anticipation. The last week before she arrived seemed in particular to crawl by. Then, on her arrival – as I noted before – there was a brief period of disorientation which resolved rapidly into joyous harmony.

So far, so good!

A couple of days before she was due to leave, however, we both noticed a slight but uncomfortable tension. She had to pack, of course, and that in itself – signifying as it did the imminence of departure – inevitably created a melancholic mood. There was something more, though. My best guess is that the inclination to plan and think ahead – giving thought to the events and activities of the next few days – caused a rupture in the fabric of togetherness. To that point we had been planning things together and sharing a common immediate future. Once we started to consider events post-departure we were inevitably drawn once again into our separate worlds, even though we yet had time together.

The act of parting itself – particularly given that we are to see each other again in a few weeks – was made tolerable by the brave faces to which we are becoming accustomed. The aftermath, however, was less pleasant. Rebuilding the protective shell seemed to take more effort than it had before, and the melancholic spirit hung heavy for a longer season.

It may be, of course, that what is immediately extant simply leaves a more powerful trace than what has gone before, and that in the great scheme of things there is no such thing as a good parting – at least where lovers are concerned. I find myself worried, however, that in truth Greg Guldner’s observation – quoted in this previous post on long distance relationships – to the effect that subsequent partings can prove ever more unbearable may in fact be worryingly close to the mark.

This separation thing clearly has a limited shelf-life.

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Stereotyping gets a bad press! In fact, modern usage of the term seems almost entirely pejorative, with the emphasis on the possibility/probability of negative consequences. This is a considerable distortion of the term’s original connotation as a ‘sense-making’ tool – one which is supposedly judgementally neutral. I must admit to having played my own minuscule part in the assault on this particular gambit by inveighing vigorously and vociferously again same whilst studying psychology in my first year at college back in the early 70s. Needless to say I failed the unit!

Where is this going, you ask? Well – naturally to a cringe-making admission that I now recognise in myself an unfortunate tendency to conform to at least one formerly unacceptable stereotype… that of the grumpy old man!

Can it really be that things are considerably more ‘pants’ (technical term!) than they were 40 years ago, or is it just that the young of all generations are simply immune to the inanities and ludicrosities of life? They presumably have far more important things to worry about than modern systems that don’t work properly, or facilities that appear to have been designed by the inhabitants of an entirely different universe to the one that the rest of us inhabit. Maybe all that us old folks have left in life is the desire and capacity to have a jolly good whinge about things…

Do feel free to disagree at any point!

‘Oh dear’, you say to yourself, ‘this is building up to an anecdote’. Too right!

I posted a few weeks ago on the subject of the nerve-tickling experience of Pearl’s MOT test. Since then I have had to pay her annual road tax – very probably for the last time (sniff!) – and just this last week her insurance fell due. Now – I have owned Pearl for 9 years and have insured her through the same online broker throughout that period. When I first applied for insurance in 2003 I was told that – because she is a soft-top – I would need to fit an immobiliser. This I duly did and everything then went ahead without further hitch.

This time – on receipt of the renewal reminder, a weighty document of a dozen or so pages – I called the broker and asked to renew. We went through the lengthy process on the phone and all seemed to have been settled. A short while later I was emailed the new policy documents – another hefty tome which I, being a Luddite, naturally printed out for posterity.

There was a pause.

Then – after about half an hour – the phone rang. It was my broker. He informed me that the insurers – having already issued the documents – had now discovered that they could find no written record of my ever having installed the immobiliser – nine years previously! Somehow I had had getting on for a decade of perfectly successful insurance – including one small no-fault claim – but was now being told that I couldn’t get cover because they did not have the essential document. Doh! The broker inquired sweetly as to whether I might still have the original receipts and documentation. Honestly!!

Sad thing is – of course – that I had…

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“A criminal is a person with predatory instincts without sufficient capital to form a corporation.”

Howard Scott

In a new departure for ‘The Imperceptible Immigrant’, today sees the first post by a guest writer – in this case none other than the Kickass Canada Girl herself! Her recent passage back to Canada did not go as smoothly as she might have hoped. Read on…


“Arrested for a roast beef sandwich…!”

Well – okay, not quite, but I did have to account to Canada Customs in Calgary – and they take their ‘beef’ seriously in Cowtown.

I had the misfortune of having the very LAST bag to come off the plane from London, and had as a result already missed my connecting flight to Victoria. Whilst waiting for the offending item to appear the Canada Customs food sniffer dog (yes – really!) – which was operating in the baggage hall – sniffed out, in my hand luggage, the one lone leftover sandwich that I had, in all honesty, forgotten about. My boarding pass and passport were confiscated and – once Customs had located my missing case – I joined a few ‘serious’ criminals and foreigners flaunting lots of loot from abroad in the ‘special area’. Unlike the guy from Africa I wasn’t put up against the wall and bodily searched, though my bags were (well – not put up against the wall, of course…). They were presumably looking for further contraband food and other items… because once you have f***ed with Canada Customs they take their job seriously!

I was asked for receipts for various items that I had purchased in the UK. Fortunately I had pocketed the one for the necklace that I had bought for my niece. The Customs dude was well impressed that I had accumulated the £120 worth of Tesco vouchers that I had used for this purchase – or maybe he was just incredulous at my 3 for 1 offer explanation.

He then went away for several minutes with my passport and when he returned commented suspiciously that I ‘travel quite a lot’.  Believing that too much explaining usually indicates lying, I kept my justification short. I wanted to leave the ‘special area’ as soon as possible – and not in the direction of Guantanamo!

Customs man then commented that I had a lot of paper and stuff.  My explanation that I always pack this way clearly impressed him further – or perhaps just left him incredulous again. Something in the tone of his voice…

He filled out an extensive document called an ‘abandonment’ form (basically a receipt for my beef sandwich – that’s what the form says – ‘beef sandwich’ – really!). I was bricking it as there is a $800 fine for not declaring MEAT on your customs form, and trying to sneak through a roast beef sandwich can, apparently, single-handedly cause a nationwide outbreak of mad cow disease…  or so I was told – with a very serious face and tone.  I was informed that I am now in their system in case they have any further trouble with me. I asked if this would ‘flag’ me for all time and was told ‘no’ – but if I do it again then they would have a real ‘beef’ with me! (Okay – sadly, I made that last bit up – Canada Customs have absolutely NO SENSE OF HUMOUR!).

When I was finally released I had to rebook with Air Canada and then sat alone in Departures eating a crap chicken burger (without the bun) waiting for my 19:40 flight and hoping to be home in Saanich by 21:00 BC time.  It had been a long day… Sigh!


Oh – and they kept the tupperware container… Apparently it had been ‘infected’ with the foreign beef! This makes me wonder about all those other ‘law breakers’ out there who get away with it – because they didn’t forget to eat their food.

I didn’t get a receipt for the container either…

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People of our time are losing the power of celebration. Instead of celebrating we seek to be amused or entertained. Celebration is an active state, an act of expressing reverence or appreciation. To be entertained is a passive state–it is to receive pleasure afforded by an amusing act or a spectacle…. Celebration is a confrontation, giving attention to the transcendent meaning of one’s actions.

Abraham Joshua Heschel

It’s official! Kickass Canada Girl is now also Kickass Brit Girl! Hooray, hoorah and huzzah!

In a citizenship ceremony that will take longer to write about than it actually took to perform, the Girl acquired a second citizenship to go along with her Canadian one. The registrar briefly confounded by asking the Girl why she wished to take such a step now, but we concluded that this had merely been a way of extending a ceremony that otherwise – consisting as it did simply of reading a brief pledge of allegiance, being welcomed as a citizen and listening to a rendition of the National Anthem played on a small ‘ghetto-blaster’ secreted behind a display of flowers and Union Jacks – would have barely have justified the fee that must be paid if one requires a private ceremony.

Well – it is done now – and apart from the elegantly boxed certificate itself having to go back to have the hyphen removed from our surname (tut!) the Girl’s progress is complete. I suspect that my own journey to acquire a similar status in Canada will take a great deal longer, though to be fair she does have 8 years of residency under her belt, so I suppose I shouldn’t complain.

The Girl was most impressed that Her Majesty had chosen to mark the event with a four day celebration in London featuring a flotilla on the Thames, fireworks over the Palace and lots of soldier-boys in pretty uniforms. She thought that some of the acts at the concert on the Mall were a tad on the ropey side, but gave full marks to Stevie Wonder for blowing everyone else away. Oh – and she liked the little African girl singers too!

After the events of the last week the Girl also now knows more of the words to the British national anthem than she does to ‘O Canada’ – even if she still doesn’t know the second verse (she is, of course, in good company there).

I have put my foot down concerning the now defunct sixth verse with its references to ‘rebellious Scots’…



“Doctor, doctor – gimme the news…”

Robert Palmer

I am now the proud possessor both of an Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) ‘Police Certificate’ and a signed and stamped ‘IMM 1017 Medical Report – Section A’…  these being amongst the numerous forms, appendices and other items that must be submitted in support of my application for Canadian Permanent Residency.

I attended for my medical examination at a clinic at Maidenhead in Berkshire here in the UK last Friday afternoon. I was there for nearly two hours and there was a point at which I thought that I would have to walk away empty handed and start the process again from the top.

The confusion arose because of the plethora of different routes by which application for Permanent Residency can be made. The most common case clearly encompasses those who need or wish to move to Canada to work. In such cases application is made in the home country – the UK in this case – and at the appropriate point in the process Citizenship and Immigration Canada send to the applicant a blank ‘IMM 1017 Medical Report – Section A’ form, with one of the photos that has been submitted with the application affixed to it and bearing the appropriate stamp. The applicant subsequently makes an appointment with a Designated Medical Practitioner and arrives for the medical, form in hand.

The fact that I had turned up bearing a blank form – no photo, no stamp – threw the clinic into a complete tizzy! Now – those applying for residency through a sponsor based in Canada – as I am – have to follow a different route, as outlined in ‘IMM 3901E – Sponsorship of a Spouse, Common-Law Partner, Conjugal Partner or Dependent Child Living Outside Canada – Part 3: Country Specific Instructions’ (for Western Europe). This specifies that all the forms and supporting documentation must be completed and gathered together before being forwarded to the prospective sponsor – in Canada – for submission to Citizenship and Immigration Canada along with the latter’s own application to be a sponsor.

To cut a long story short, after a lengthy search in their records the clinic eventually discovered an email relating to the only previous case that they had had for this form of application, and duly agreed to carry out the medical and to affix the photo and stamp the form themselves.


Having been given the green light it was then full speed ahead. I was subjected to a chest x-ray by the radiologist, to measurement and urine sampling by the nurse, to medical examination and general chit-chat by the doctor (who had been at medical school with the School Doctor at my previous school!) and finally to blood tests by another nurse.

End result? Unless anything untoward shows up in the blood tests (including the extra £60 test that they thought I should have, to add to the £250 I was already paying) then I am fit as a fiddle and possessed of the constitution of an ox!

Well – I could have told them that…

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