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May 2015

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Benjamin_Disraeli_by_Cornelius_Jabez_HughesI have – to this point – made no comment on the somewhat startling outcome of the recent UK general election. This is in part because – as I have stated before within the compass of these scribblings – this blog has no inclination to major on politics. It is also in rather greater part because the result was just so dashed depressing!

Actually – the further we travel from the election night itself the less truly startling the outcome appears, and the more all would seem to have been a dreary inevitability. Similar ballots involving Christmas and large birds of the genus Meleagris spring to mind… but then – I am hardly an impartial observer.

No matter. It is what it is – and I am in any case pretty much disqualified from judgement by my imminent departure to a different – though perhaps no more agreeable – political clime.

One thing – however – I can’t just let go…

I am appalled by the Tories’ post-election notion – courtesy of Cameron himself it would seem – to attempt to re-appropriate the ‘One Nation‘ soubriquet. Benjamin Disraeli (from whose 19th century novel, ‘Sybil‘, the term originates) truly believed in paternalism as a mechanism by which the poor and the needy should be offered support, and that it was the duty of those fortunate enough to have gained thereby to assist those who had lost out in the amoral jungle of the free market. Considerable social reforms were effected as a result during Disraeli’s terms in office.

This paternalism formed the basis of the Tories’ ideology – on and off – for a considerable stretch of its history until the New Conservatism – of which Thatcher was the flag bearer – swept it away during the 70s and 80s in favour of a belief in the unfettered power of the market to shape whatever actually existed of ‘society’.

You might expect me to raise at least two cheers for the return of the Tories to their former doctrine, and I might indeed be persuaded so to do were it not for the fact that – as in so many other things – this new direction is simply another cynical attempt to co-opt a meaningful philosophy (which actually has a track record) as some sort of promotional device for something lesser (which clearly does not!). This is nothing more than marketing and PR at its very worst.

Disraeli’s ‘One Nation‘ was intended to be just that. It was un-equal – certainly – but the intention was to care for the poorest and most destitute even if only by the largesse of their ‘betters’. Cameron’s nation – whichever ‘one‘ it might actually be – would certainly have been unrecognisable to Disraeli. It is – for example – apparently necessary to qualify to belong to it. There may indeed be welfare but only for the deserving – those who are ‘hard-working‘. This clearly excludes single mothers bringing up families – or the disabled who cannot work.

I could go on – but others have written on the subject with far greater lucidity than I could manage. This is The Observer’s editorial on the Queen’s Speech that opened the new session of parliament.

What perhaps galls the most is that the Tories have wasted not a second in setting in motion their campaigning for the next election – five whole years hence. No Tory is allowed to put in an appearance in any of the media without in-canting the party line on ‘One Nation‘ and ‘hard-working families‘. This is PR drivel of the highest order – presumably intending by endless repetition to hammer home the Tories’ ‘brand essence‘! Never have I been more relieved that I for one do not have to endure this farce.

What is worst of all is the sneaking feeling that just such cynical, patronising feculence very probably did help to win them the election just passed.

Doesn’t bear thinking about.


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Bath_Rugby_logoRegular readers of these marginalia will be all too familiar with my love of Bath.

I do not – it should be clear – refer here to my predilection for long soaks in a hot steamy tub, though my reputation for being something of a water-baby is well founded. No – I am alluding here to that most beautiful and splendid of Georgian spa cities to which the Kickass Canada Girl and I are in the habit of repairing whenever we are in dire need of a little R & R, or indeed feel inclined to celebrate some significant event in our existence… such as it being the weekend, for example.

I am – in particular – a keen follower of the progress of Bath Rugby club. Postings such as this one make very clear my enthusiasm both for the city itself and for its practitioners of the oval-ball game.

Thus it was that Saturday last found the Girl and I ensconced in a rural hostelry some miles from home (TV coverage being sadly limited to a subscription TV channel to which we do not subscribe!) watching the semi-finals of this year’s rugby Premiership.

Bath Rugby has a long and glorious history, winning – for example – the old Courage League six times between 87/88 and 95/95. Since the game turned professional in the mid 90s – however – they have struggled to achieve their former heights and have never won a Premiership final.

Over the last few seasons a great deal of hard work – and a healthy injection of cash – has paid off and Bath are now playing at a level that has not been reached for several decades. Their scintillating, fast-flowing brand of rugby is finally reaping its due reward and this season saw them finish the regular season in second spot, thus ensuring a home semi-final against their old enemies – Leicester Tigers.

Leicester play an uncompromisingly physical (brutal!) brand of muscular rugby based on an impenetrable defence – the complete antithesis of Bath’s more adventurous style. The contrast on Saturday was all too apparent. Leicester had the lion’s share of the possession and spent much time straining fruitlessly against Bath’s stalwart defence. Bath visited the Leicester 22 only eight times during the match – and scored on seven of those occasions! The final score of 47 – 10 may have flattered Bath somewhat, but for sheer exhilaration if nothing else one could not possibly begrudge them such a winning margin.

Watching such a breathtaking display turned out to be too much for our delicate reason and before the second half was half done we were searching online for tickets for next Saturday’s ultimate showdown against Saracens. By the time the final whistle went we had already snapped up a brace thereof – before realising that the match clashes with an pre-existing invitation to lunch with dear friends. They most kindly (if with slightly rictus smiles) agreed to take a rain-check.

Oh dear!

Still – if Bath win the final in our final season in the UK…..

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Photo by Andy Dawson ReidIt takes a long time to grow an old friend.

John Leonard

Back in the day – when this blog were a mere stripling and I had only just taken delivery of the Fuji x10 – I posted hereon some of the fruits of my first tentative photographic explorations. Of the image reproduced here I wrote:

“This is a most treasured possession of mine – the 1966 Omega Seamaster that the Kickass Canada Girl gave me as a wedding gift. It could do with a new crystal, but it is a thing of beauty and a timeless classic…”

Towards the end of last year the Seamaster abruptly ceased its measured recording of the passage of time and demanded some rare TLC. For one reason or another (time… money…) it was subsequently tucked away in its box and, if not forgotten, at least roundly ignored for a while.

By the time Easter hove into view I had built up a sufficient debt of guilt that I felt obliged to seek out some suitably dependable enterprise with whom I might entrust my precious timepiece. This naturally took some research – mostly of the InterWebNet variety – but did in the end produce precisely the result that I had sought.

The proprietor of Abacus Associates of Richmond in Surrey (the UK variants of both) has 40 years experience in the servicing of chronometers by such esteemed watchmakers as Rolex and Omega. Subsequent to the fall from fashion of mechanical movements in favour of quartz during the 70s and 80s and the concomitant reduction in demand for the old skills he became Lecturer in Horology at the British Horological Institute in Manchester.

That Abacus Associates’ services are now once again in demand is a result of the resurgence of interest in – and the desirability of – the mechanical watch. This is in part because the substitution of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets for the conventional timepiece has rendered the cheap digital watch practically superfluous. The futurist author William Gibson writes:

“Mechanical watches are so brilliantly unnecessary. Any Swatch or Casio keeps better time, and high-end contemporary Swiss watches are priced like small cars. But mechanical watches partake of what my friend John Clute calls the Tamagotchi Gesture. They’re pointless in a peculiarly needful way; they’re comforting precisely because they require tending.”

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidHe’s not wrong – and my beloved Seamaster certainly did need tending. The end result – the watch having now been given a thorough cleanse and service, and the seals, crystal and strap having all been replaced – is that it now looks even shinier and more beautiful than before.

I may – as a side effect – be lacking an arm and a leg, but it has been well worth it!

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officialOne of the last remaining obstacles to our impending relocation to the Pacific Northwest coast of British Columbia has been officially surmounted. Yesterday – in the post – I received the Confirmation of Permanent Residency (COPR) that marks the virtual culmination of the process of becoming a full time inhabitant of Canada.

Hoo – bloomin’ – ray!

All that now remains in this regard is for me to ‘land’ on the continent and for this temporary visa to be exchanged for the actual PR document. Fears that the expiry of my medical certificate at the end of April – the which is normally used as the deadline for landing once the COPR has been issued – might cause a problem have been excised by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) extending the visa period for a year – to May 2016.

The whole process – which has felt for much of the time as though it were indeed doing its best to live up to the ‘Imperceptible’ tag – has actually taken about two weeks less than a year. Given that the CIC website originally indicated that the expected processing time would be around eleven months, I guess I shouldn’t complain.

It has – however – felt like an eternity!

Well – this is it:

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

One factor in our case for the process seeming quite as extended as it has is that we made a first abortive attempt to set things in motion back in 2012, when the Kickass Canada Girl had moved – temporarily as it turned out – to Victoria. For those with a predilection for completeness here follows the complete trail of my posts documenting the whole shebang…

  • A Tough OccupationMay 2012 – an introduction to the PR process
  • A Word from our SponsorMay 2012 – the part that the Girl would have to play in the process
  • PrerequisitesMay 2012 – a description of the documentation that would need to be gathered before completing the application
  • Doctor, DoctorJune 2012 – my first visit to the doctor to acquire a medical certificate
  • A Little Application-1June 2012 – details of the complete sponsor’s application
  • A Little Application-2June 2012 – details of my own complete application
  • Leave to RemainDecember 2012 – first attempt abandoned
  • Residency RevisitedFebruary 2014 – the process restarted a year on
  • Residency Revisited – RevisitedFebruary 2014 – further information gleaned concerning the process
  • Spot the DifferenceApril 2014 – second medical and police certificates are obtained
  • Momentous DayJune 2014 – the completed application is at last submitted
  • Cause for CelebrationAugust 2014 – the Girl is approved as a sponsor
  • In the SystemAugust 2014 – our first appearance on the Electronic Client Application Status (ECAS) site
  • The Waiting Game  – November 2014 – introduction to the London sponsored applicant spreadsheet on the British Expat website
  • Signs of LifeNovember 2014 – request for payment of the Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF)
  • Glory Be!March 2015 – finally – the application appears as ‘In Process’ on the ECAS
  • Hallelujah!May 2015 – and now it switches to ‘Decision Made’
  • It’s Official – May 2015 – this very post – I have my COPR!


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Image from PixabayIn around two months from now our tranter of choice – Bourne’s International Moves – will pitch up on the doorstep eager to crate up all of our precious goods and chattels for the bracing sea voyage around Cape Horn and on up the west coast of the Americas to Vancouver.

I am – of course – kidding! All our worldly possessions will in fact rather traverse the Panama Canal…

At least – I hope that is the plan!

The point is – big, scary things are about to transpire and pretty much everything that happens between now and the date of our departure is ineluctably bound up with the process. It is doubtless for such reasons that neither the Kickass Canada Girl nor I have much time nor patience for the minutiae and trivia of everyday life.

One such item of trivia – trivial at least as far as I was concerned – was the decision to schedule in the midst of the working week some apparently essential water mains restoration works across one of the roundabouts on the main arterial route into London that forms part of my daily pilgrimage to the School. This ‘work’ entailed the blocking of all bar one lane around this particular roundabout for three days – as far as one could tell without any concomitant commitment to actually turn up to carry out any form of labour – there being no sign of such on any of the occasions on which I struggled past the site.

This apparently careless arrangement added at least half an hour to my journey in each direction – resulting in my total in-car time rising to around four and a half hours each day!

Given that my working life has but seven weeks to run before I retire you might imagine just how dim a view I take of having to spend such an extensive proportion of it sitting in traffic.

I realise – of course – that those of you not approaching retirement may curl your lips disdainfully at the petty grumbles of one about so to do – and I do naturally sympathise… really I do!… but I find it increasingly difficult to maintain an appropriate sense of perspective as to the true import of the activities with which we fill our days.

Oh well! Thirty five working days – and counting!

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prNo more need be said…

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Image from Wikimedia CommonsOne of the reasons people hate politics is that truth is rarely a politician’s objective.

Election and power are.”

Cal Thomas

I have – you may have noticed – throughout the past five weeks refrained from making any mention whatsoever of the UK General Election.

There are three reasons for this:

  1. Though I may on occasion feel moved to venture an opinion on a political theme, this is not the
    raison d’être of this blog and I would prefer not thus to abuse the casual reader.
  2. The standard of the political fare on offer this time round has been so dire that I can scarce summon the will to dignify it with commentary.
  3. For the first time that I can recall since reaching the age of majority I have myself been struggling to work out to whom I should give my precious vote. Now – if ever – is the time that we need a ‘None of the above‘ box on the ballot paper!


Today we enjoy the opportunity to exercise our democratic right. I strongly feel that we should so do.

These two vital but little discussed issues will inform my eventual decision:

  1. Inequality: The gulf between the richest and the poorest has been growing steadily since the late 1970s. There is no sign that this tide is about to turn. The party that wants my vote must address this issue.
  2. Europe: The Tories have given in cravenly to demands from the far right for a referendum on continued membership of the EC. The right believes fervently that such a referendum would inevitably lead to the UK exiting the community, and they are quite probably correct in so doing. In this case I fear that I cannot accept that the ‘democratic will of the people’ should hold sway. I would do so could I believe that the majority of the populace had reached such a judgement after careful consideration and with reasoned thought, rather than merely as the result of simple knee-jerk xenophobia. We would do well – in this era of the anniversaries of the cataclysms that engulfed Europe across the twentieth century – to remember the origins of and the rationale behind the European project… before it is too late!

I entreat you – should you have a vote in this election – to think deeply and to use your vote well.


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With riotous laughter we quietly suffer
The season in town, which is reason enough for
A weekend in the country
How amusing
How delightfully droll
A weekend in the country

Stephen Sondheim – ‘A Little Night Music’

Just such…

…a weekend in the country with oldest friends. The Fuji x10 came too!

One of many the reasons that this is the perfect time of year in the UK… English asparagus!

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

A walk is most definitely called for…

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid‘Et in Arcadia…’

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid



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