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February 2014

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Image by Scott ClarkHerewith a couple of items that came to my attention over the weekend – and that I couldn’t resist sharing…

This image – brought to our notice by our dear friends in Saanichton – is part of a strip entitled ‘Grammar Pirates‘. The full strip – which can be found here – is the work of Scott Clark and can be found on his rather wonderful blog – ‘Kind of Sketchy‘.

Those who know me well will be all too aware of why I find the notion of ‘Grammar Pirates’ totally irresistable… grammar – word-play – paronomasia (look it up!)… and pirates!! What’s not to like?!


I found this in the magazine of The Observer – my Sunday read of choice. Their regular brief interview column – ‘This much I know‘ (which is subtitled ‘Famous faces share their life lessons‘) features a selection of edifying – and frequently humorous – ‘sound-bites’ from the well known.

This week’s contributor was the Scottish actor Brian Cox – now in his late sixties. He recalled working with Olivier:

‘Sir Laurence Olivier was quite elderly and frail when I worked with him. But he was a fox – he would wrong-foot people. I remember him forgetting his lines on set and saying, “Did anybody see Michael Hordern as King Lear? He knew all his lines. But I’m still a better fucking actor than he is.”‘


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Image from http://openclipart.orgThose who follow these unreliably random postings might just recall an item that appeared back in October last relating to my hitherto unconsidered decision to indulge in the cultivation of a facial inflorescence… To be precise – a beard!

The growth of which was something that I had not previously attempted and at the time of writing I wasn’t sure exactly how I felt about being adorned with such an accoutrement. I quite liked the look of the thing – thinking perhaps that it made me look a little distinguished – but I wasn’t at all sure that I felt like a man who should have a beard.

I have clearly had nothing further to convey on the subject since October – a reliable indicator that there has been no change either in my appearance or in my feelings regarding the matter.

Until now…

The growth seemed to suit best when kept reasonably short and tidy and I thus found it necessary to trim it at least once a week. Compared to shaving daily this was like being on holiday and I really rather enjoyed seeing what could be done with it. All went well until last night, when I was the sorry victim of a rare shaving accident – or more properly – a ‘trimming’ accident.

The beard trimmer that I had purchased to control the beast is a reasonably fancy job which has an electronic control by which the closeness of the cut is adjusted.

Yes – you can already see where this is headed!

Somehow – I know not how and – inevitably – without noticing until it was too late – I contrived to alter the cut setting so that the length was reduced from 5mm to 0.5mm! Within seconds I had cut a swathe like a firebreak across one cheek! Even the most cursory inspection revealed the situation to be hopeless. All I could do was to whip the whole thing off and then figure out if I wanted to start over again from scratch.


It came as a considerable shock to see my naked face staring back at me from the mirror and I’m not at all sure that I like how I now look without the facial embellishment. Even worse – I am going to have to shave again every day!

Part of me is annoyed that I didn’t get to choose if and when I shaved the thing off; part of me shrugs philosophically and considers that this is what the universe has provided.

Either way it takes some getting used to…

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Image from http://www.freefoto.comLord, here comes the flood
We’ll say goodbye to flesh and blood
If again the seas are silent in any still alive
It’ll be those who gave their island to survive
Drink up, dreamers, you’re running dry

Peter Gabriel

It is broadly held that were it not for the weather we Brits would not have two words to say to each other. This is – of course – a vicious calumny, though it cannot be denied that the subject has – of late – provided much on which to confabulate.

Those resident in this green and pleasant land (what can yet be discerned of it through the murky drab by which great swathes of it are currently concealed) will be only too aware that the weather here throughout the past two months has been truly terrible. Ceaseless rainfall – giving parts of the UK their wettest January on record – and a constant conveyor of storm fronts from the Atlantic has resulted in catastrophic flooding, downed trees, damaged property and severed railway lines. Though the recent run of storms has abated somewhat this week there is no sign of an end to the apparently perpetual precipitation, which deluge has nowhere to go – landing as it is on already sodden ground.

Concurrent with this local cataclysm eastern Canada and the US have been experiencing freezing rain, wind and snow, whilst California – conversely – basks in record warm temperatures and suffers an ever-worsening drought.

Clearly – something is up. Equally clearly – to many of us at least – that something is ‘climate change’.

It would appear that the pattern of the jet stream that controls the weather in the northern hemisphere has started to alter – slowing down and beginning to meander in a previously unheralded manner. As a result weather patterns that would once have passed by expeditiously are now becoming bogged down for extended – and dangerous – periods…

…not that you would know any of this should you rely for your information on the say of  the ‘climate change deniers’!

These deniers come in two varieties. The first – and perhaps worst – breed are those who deny that there have been any climate changes at all. These disbelievers hold that there have always been extreme weather patterns – and point out that the recent disturbances are merely ‘once in a hundred year’ events. This view would hold more credence were it not for the fact that the same was said last year – and quite probably a year or so before that. In actual fact, the frequency of these ‘unprecedented’ events appears to be increasing.

The second brood of deniers are those that accept that the climate has changed, but deny that this is in any way a result of man’s activities. This would – by itself – mean little, were it not that these cynics further decree that since we did nothing to cause the change we need do nothing about it. More – that we should do nothing about it. This marvelously perverse view has its roots in the Weltanschauung that is common to all deniers… they are all at heart free-marketeers! As such their blinkered world-view extends no further than the short-term cost of anything and everything, and is informed by the belief that – given its head – the market will resolve all issues. This tenet is adhered to blindly in the face of all recent evidence to the contrary and might – quite literally – one day be the death of us all!

I need to lie down in a darkened room!

Stay dry – stay warm…

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Image by Merlin2525 on OpenClipArtAt the culmination of my last post – imaginatively titled ‘Residency revisited‘ – I wound up my deliberation on the requirement for the Kickass Canada Girl and I to ‘prove’ that we do indeed intend to reside in Canada should permanent residency be granted with the observation that further research was needed – and said that I would ‘get back to you’ with the results thereof.

I’m back!

It is a testament to the power of the InterWebNet that simply ‘Googling’ – “Proof that you intend to live in Canada with your spouse” – turns up the answer almost immediately, in the form of a reference to a document entitled IP 2 Processing Applications to Sponsor Members of the Family Class. This tract – previously unknown to me and hidden well away on an obscure branch of the CIC website – contains the following section:

13.3.      Sponsorship by Canadian citizens living abroad

The following applies to Canadian citizens living abroad:

  • Canadian citizens who reside abroad may sponsor only their spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner or a dependent child who does not have dependent children of their own;
  • they must submit their sponsorship application package and fees to the CPC-M in Canada and not to the visa office;
  • Canadian citizens who are tourists in a foreign country, even for extended periods, are still residents of Canada;
  • Canadian citizens who are long-term workers or students in another country are generally considered residents of that country;
  • Canadians who have spent little or no time in Canada may also seek to sponsor. If they have never worked in Canada and do not have the educational or language skills to find employment in Canada, refusal under A39 may be appropriate if arrangements for the care and support of the sponsored person are not satisfactory;
  • sponsors must provide evidence that they will reside in Canada after the sponsored persons and their family members become permanent residents.

Evidence that sponsors will reside in Canada may include one or more of the following:

  • letter from an employer;
  • letter of acceptance to a Canadian educational institution;
  • proof of having rented/bought a dwelling in Canada;
  • reasonable plans for re-establishing in Canada or severing ties to the other country.

Of this suggested evidence the first three bullet-points are pretty much covered by the surmisings in my last post and would – for us – be no simple matter with which to comply. That leaves the ‘reasonable plan‘ of the final point. I guess that we must make a case thereon which would incorporate the following mitigating factors:

  • the Girl has a dependent in Victoria
  • we have a number of bank accounts in Canada, which contain pretty much all of our savings
  • the Girl has Canadian pensions
  • by the time we submit our PR application our property in the UK should be on the market
  • we can call on the testimony of Canadian family and friends

Failing all else I might simply refer CIC to this blog! That should do the trick…


In the course of my researches I discovered a most useful forum that goes by the appellation ‘Road to Canada’. Amongst other topics upon which the site offers valuable discourse was one concerning the process to be followed once permanent residency has been approved. I had – somewhat naively – assumed that it was simply a matter of being furnished with the relevant documentation and then being able to rock up at the Canadian border at some point during the succeeding years to be greeted with open arms.

Not so…

What actually happens is that once residency is approved a temporary visa is granted and one must then cross the Canadian border at some point before that visa expires. On so doing permanent residency commences and the immigrant is then subject to the requirement of being resident in Canada for two out of any five years. In practice this means that – whereas one needn’t actually move to Canada until up to three years after permanent residency has been taken up – one must visit before the temporary visa expires. This expiration date is apparently the anniversary of the required medical certificate, which – given the length of time that it takes to process PR applications nowadays – is normally somewhere between a fortnight and sixty days.

All of which means that the timing of the application is critical and must be considered most carefully.

More anon…

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cicThe Citizenship and Immigration Canada website has been re-designed… and jolly nice it looks too. Whether it will be any easier to navigate than the old version remains to be seen. It is early days yet and – mindful of the morass of information that doubtless still lies behind the impressive new facade – I wouldn’t want to count any chickens.

Time – however – to get started…

My original post on the subject of Family Sponsorship for Permanent Residency outlines the basic application procedure that we must needs follow and the first thing to do now is to identify how this might differ as a result of both of the applications (the Kickass Canada Girl’s as sponsor and mine as the sponsored) originating from outside Canada.

Revisiting the online guides to glean further information I see that this new condition has been added since I last studied the detail:

Effective October 25, 2012, sponsored spouses or partners must now live together in a legitimate relationship with their sponsor for two years from the day they receive permanent residence status in Canada.

If you are a spouse or partner being sponsored to come to Canada, this applies to you if:

  • You are being sponsored by a permanent resident or Canadian citizen
  • You have been in a relationship for two years or less with your sponsor
  • You have no children in common
  • Your application was received on or after October 25, 2012

Fortunately, since the Girl and I have been married for more than three years already this condition will not affect us. Moving on…

Hunting further through the the CIC website (no mean feat, for it is a complex beast!) I (re)discover:

Guide 3900 – Sponsorship of a spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner or dependent child living outside Canada“.

In the depths of this document I find that which I seek:

If I live outside Canada, may I sponsor?

If you are a Canadian citizen, you may sponsor a spouse, a common-law partner or conjugal partner, or a dependent child who has no children of his or her own. However, you must demonstrate that you will live in Canada when the sponsored person becomes a permanent resident.

Note: Permanent residents residing abroad may not sponsor from outside of Canada. Canadian citizens travelling (sic) as tourists are not considered to be residing abroad.

At this point a small alarm bell sounds… I take a look at the sponsor’s document checklist:


…and see that it includes this item:


“Proof that you intend to live in Canada with your spouse…?” How on earth is one supposed to prove that?

It is difficult – off the top of my head – to imagine what sort of documentary evidence we could possibly provide that would satisfy this requirement. If the Girl had a job offer from Canada – mayhap – I guess that would count, but what if we are both intending to retire? Perhaps if we had already purchased a property in BC – but again – would we be likely so to do if there were still doubt concerning our right to reside in Canada?


Further research is clearly required. I will report back with my findings.

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Photo by Andy Dawson ReidIt is not far short of a month since I passed the significant (for me, anyway!) milestone that was my sixtieth birthday. I am now officially ‘getting on a bit’!

The gentle reader may have noticed – however – that apart from describing in a frankly unnecessary degree of detail the celebrations that accompanied the event I have made very little reference to what it is actually like to have crossed the great divide into a seventh decade. Though I have now achieved an age that would once have been considered ‘pretty good going’ – in this day and age to have done so is merely commonplace.

Truth be told I have written nothing because being 60 has felt little different to being 59 – which in turn felt no different to 58 – and so forth…

That this may be self-evident is clearly no help at all to anyone who has arrived here as a result of Googling the InterWebNet nervously for signs of an after-life in the detritus of the boomer generation. I will therefore make what observations I can – however prosaic they may be.

The first thing to say is that once one has passed one’s sixtieth anniversary – in the UK at least – one is suddenly eligible for free stuff!

I take regular medication for inherited hypertension. It will be very nice no longer to have to pay for my prescriptions (three off – every two months)… at least until we move to Canada, where – the Kickass Canada Girl assures me – I will be charged even more than I had once to pay here.

I am also a long-time contact lens wearer and – as a result of one of my habitually curmudgeonly fallings-out with my erstwhile optician – I had recently to sign a new contract with a different chain. For this purpose I was required to take a fresh eye test and I was delighted to find that this also was free of charge.

Until fairly recently I would have been able to get a free bus pass as well – but I learn that the powers-that-be have decided that this was far too straightforward a service to be gifted to mere mortals and have thus of late complicated it to the nth degree. To qualify now one has to live in a certain part of the country, to have been born under a particular phase of the moon and to arrive at the answer ‘5’ when asked to subtract the number one first thought of…

Well – something like that! I will not – apparently – qualify for mine until I am sixty five years, two months and twelve days old – and I certainly don’t intend still to be around here by then. Those who know me will doubtless snort derisively at this juncture and point out that the issue is moot since I wouldn’t be caught dead on a bus in any case!

One change – however – is significant. I am now a pensioner! At my previous school my retirement age was 60 and my pension thence – though relatively humble – has now come into effect. I thus received my first pension paycheck at the end of last week. Now that was a momentous event.

The real changes – though – will not take place until I finally retire…

Roll on the day!

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Image by Damián Navas on Flickr

If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it.

Abraham Lincoln


January is just about done. It is the time of year to put aside retrospection and to engage instead in a little gentle anticipation. Time to make a plan…

Our approach in this instance will be subtly different to that which we previously pursued. On that occasion our grand strategy was launched with due ceremony.  ‘Full steam ahead’ was the command and away we sailed – all guns blazing – only to founder on the ragged rocks of an unfriendly shore and to slip slowly beneath the waves – lost with all hands.

This time – with the memory of running-before-we-could-walk fresh in our minds – we are taking things one step at a time.

Step one: Sell the apartment in Buckinghamshire. Until this has been accomplished nothing else can be done – thus nothing else need currently concern us.

The good news on this front is that the market has picked up appreciably. The UK economy has now enjoyed four consecutive quarters of growth and a considerable number of new jobs have been created – many of them in the corridor between the M4 and M40 motorways to the west of London. Our humble apartment is located slap-bang in the middle of this area.

Even better – we hear through the grapevine that one of our ex-neighbours is also selling her apartment, which happens to be the one immediately below ours. As far as we can tell it was only introduced to the market around Christmas time, but it is already under offer and the asking price – which I imagine has pretty much been achieved – was considerable. We can’t put our apartment on the market until the point that we are able to give our tenants notice (toward the end of March) but we are – naturally – now eager to get things moving.

Further on the positive news front… the good old Pound Sterling has itself also been doing jolly well of late against the Canadian dollar. When I started tracking the exchange rate around two years ago it was hovering around the 1.55 mark. It is now slightly above 1.8 and is – apparently – slowly but surely still rising… as are house prices in the south east of England! I am not going to excogitate this scenario further for fear of jinxing the whole kit and caboodle but – as you might imagine – we now have fingers, arms, legs, eyes and everything else crossed. We must look pretty damned funny!


There is actually one other thing that we do need to get on with at this point. Regular readers may experience a strong sense of deja vu as I revisit the subject of my application for Canadian Permanent Residency. You might recall that the whole process ground to a halt when the Kickass Canada Girl returned to the UK the Christmas before last. Well – figuring that our delayed move is now likely to take place within the next two years it is essential that we re-ignite the process. Otherwise I might find myself in British Columbia but unable to stay there.

The process will – of course – be somewhat different now that the Girl is based in the UK rather than in Canada. I will update my previous musings on the subject (here, here and all points west!) so that those lighting upon this post in search of useful information regarding permanent residency will be able to get the complete picture.


“So we beat on…” – though unlike Fitzgerald’s protagonist we are in this case carried onward toward the future…

…and our motto for the day shall be “Softly, softly, catchee monkey!”


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