Life · Randomness

F**king Bureaucracy

On May 12th of this year, I began a journey. A journey that will hopefully conclude with a new UK passport. I call it a journey because I could have travelled around the world in the time it’s taken the UK Passport Office to pull it’s head out of it’s ass and be of some use to me. British Bureaucracy is unlike anything I have ever experienced before, and I used to live near a farm, I’ve seen plenty of horse shit.!

When I first set out on this journey, I needed to renew my old, now-expired UK passport, change my name and address details, and provide new photos as my old passport was 10 years old, and I look nothing like I did back then. I read all the way through the passport application information pack I had, which should have told me all I would need to know in applying for a new passport. That was the first ‘nope’. I thought going online to the official website, applying for a new passport, armed with my old one, photos, change of address etc. etc. was all that was needed. That was the second ‘nope’. I waited until the 23rd of May for a friend to get back from his holiday in France, so that he could confirm that the new photos I’d had taken were of me, sign and date them, and provide a copy of his own ID. Sorted, or so I thought.

I looked back through all the information that comes with the paper application form, and went through the lists of documentation needed, and checked all the right boxes that were relevant to someone who was renewing a passport, making changes to personal information and providing photos, and who now lived outside the UK. With all that within reach, I applied online, as I was supposed to, for a new UK passport, paying £121.- (€134.37, $160.35) for it. All went well until I got to the printouts. In applying online, the UK Passport Office send you an email with details of your application and payment, and a list of necessary documentation which you are supposed to print out and send with the documentation. I read the printout, only to see that I had to provide proof that my name was officially listed at my address, either through utility bills, tax letters, electoral letters or a letter from an official Dutch institution, and I had 6 weeks to provide it.! WTF.?!!

I don’t pay the bills, the big guy does. I don’t work, so I don’t pay taxes. I can’t vote in the national elections, only the local provincial elections, because I’m not Dutch, so my name’s not on the National Electoral Roll. I was completely buggered.! I am listed as living at this address, but not in an official capacity. So I emailed the UK Passport Office, to ask why that wasn’t part of the documentation requirements in their information pack.? Only to be told that all required documentation is listed in their information pack. Being the kind of person who takes even subtle hints of being called stupid badly, I went back through said information pack, and NOWHERE did it say I was required to prove my name was listed in official registers at my address. So I sent them copies of their required documentation lists, and a copy of the printout with the proof of name requirement listed on it.

I heard nothing back after a week. So I phoned them. When I finally got through, I explained that I had no idea I would have to prove my name because it wasn’t in the information pack, and I felt it very unfair to be charged for a passport when I did not have the right information to enable me to have the necessary documentation available. I was told point blank that most things can be sorted within six weeks, and there was no refund. Without a valid passport, I can’t identify myself in the Netherlands, because everything is linked to your passport. If I can’t identify myself, I’m in BIG trouble, so I have to have a passport either way.

Panicking, because not only was I going to be stuck in the Netherlands without a valid form of ID, I wouldn’t be able to see my children, who live in England, the big guy and I went to the local Town Hall for help on May 30th. We explained my predicament at length, and had to wait while the lady we’d spoken to had to explain it to her manager, who in turn had to make phone calls to some local government hierarchy, which on July 3rd, resulted in them saying they could ‘possibly’ help, and did I have a short list of documentation available.? And if so, was any of it apostilled.? Well, no, obviously nothing was apostilled, because I had never needed to go down that road before, neither had I had to prove who my parents were, so while the Town Hall lady was dealing with my predicament from her end, I had to get hold of a copy of my parents wedding certificate, (which took two weeks) and together with my birth certificate, decree absolute and change of name deed poll, send it all to Milton Keynes to get apostilled.

An apostille is an inkless stamp with the British Foreign And Commonwealth Office’s coat of arms on it, which confirms that all the documents provided are genuine and not fakes. Each document is stamped, and a certificate of authenticity attached to the back of the document, signed by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Officer. These things cost £30.- (€33.32, $39.76) each and you have to pay postage which amounted to £27.50.! £147.50 (€163.82, $195.50) in all… and also took two weeks. By this time the money I’d paid back in May when I first applied for a passport was lost. I was furious.!!

The Town Hall had to follow their bureaucratic procedures, and go to a lawyer to find out if it was possible to re-register me as officially living in the Netherlands. Thank God I had an English solicitor-signed deed poll, as it was the only thing that would allow that to happen. If I’d bought it in England, but had it confirmed in the Netherlands, I would have been screwed, but because we went back to England last October and got it signed by an officially registered solicitor, it was good to go. That took another month.

Once all the documents were back, checked and handed in, and copies had been made. I was told it would take about a week for them to get back to me, as to whether it was even possible to register me, and then they’d get on to actually registering me as officially living in the Netherlands, at the address I’ve been living at for the past 5 years. Yesterday, the big guy got the call saying that I could be registered officially, and that they were now starting the process of actually doing it.! This will take three weeks. At which time I will have the necessary documentation to apply again for a new UK passport.

What made me laugh, possibly a tad maniacally, was that on August 30th I received an email from the UK Passport Office confirming that the necessity for a British Citizen living outside the UK, to have official proof of their name and address was NOT part of the information pack they provide, but it would be when the new guidelines were produced as part of the EU exit. I still would not be granted a refund though. Bastards.! They also provided a list of the necessary documents I would need before making an online application for a new Overseas British Subject UK passport. *sigh*

What worries me now is that a new Passport is going to take 4-6 weeks, if everything goes as smoothly as it damn well wants to, after all the hassle I’ve been through, which brings me to late-October, when everything is going to cost a fortune to arrange, because only then can I start reserving hotels, ferry crossings, the bloody Dartford Crossing toll charge, which caught me unawares two years ago, which could prove far more costly than it would have been had I been able to do all that months ago, as I usually would have. I also need to make an appointment with my parents, and ensure they’re happy to wait around until we turn up. Yes, I did say make an appointment., My parents are very busy people, apparently, and don’t like unexpected visitors, even if it’s one of their kids. 🙂

All in, this new passport will have cost almost £412.- (€460.86, $541.71). Bureaucracy is apparently, a necessary evil, but why does it have to be such a major pain in the ass and cost a small fortune.?! Had I lived in England it would have cost only £75.50 (€83.80, $100.26).

UPDATE: After three weeks I received a registration certificate from the local town hall, which cost 16.50 (£14.75, $19.39), I had to download new Passport Application paperwork, because the paperwork I filled out in May was no longer valid, so would not be accepted. This also meant I had to get my counter-signatory to re-fill out all his details.  The day after we arranged a meeting, he was in an accident, and in recovery for two weeks. When we eventually met up, he re-filled out all his details and I applied for a new UK Passport that evening, armed with all the necessary documentation listed on the official UK Passport Office’s list. I paid and waited for the necessary download, that I had to print out, only to find the new paperwork was different from that which I had downloaded and printed in May, and I would need my counter-signatory to re-do his details AGAIN on the new paperwork.! Unbelievable.!!! 

 

 

 

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Life · Randomness

Sport Physiotherapy

It looks like I’m going to be seeing the muscle-bound, uber fit dictator again. *sigh* The last time he got his hands on me, I was in agony and subjected to all kinds of weird and wonderful ‘treatments’. I’ve been suffering with my hips and back again for over a month, and finally decided to see the doctor about it, as I’m in pain before I even get up in the morning… she prodded and poked and pulled me into all sorts of strange positions and told me a physiotherapist would be my best bet. Oh gawd.! Really.? Hence the muscle-bound, uber fit dictator visits.

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I guess he’s not that bad… as far as Sports Physiotherapists go, he doesn’t look like Arnie, although all his muscles are defined and he’s pretty intimidating, and very strict. Last year he took the bursitis in my right shoulder to task, and had me swinging my arm, and pushing my shoulder into door frames and using resistance tape to strengthen the muscles. Which worked for all of five months, until my whole arm seized up for a week, and hasn’t been the same since. I’m not sure I want him messing with my hips. Although the thought of strengthening my core muscles sounds like it could be good, depending on whether I actually have any 😉 and how agonisingly painful it’s going to be to drag them out of bed amidst promises of coffee and cake, and strengthened and back in use again.

It will be nice to walk more than 300 metres without being in pain, and be able to walk up a flight of stairs without having to stop and wait out the back pain. Maybe I’ll dance again… hahahaha.! 😀 Maybe not.

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Life · Randomness

Disrespectful.?

My 25 year old nephew dumped his girlfriend of three years, two weeks ago, with whom he has a 21 month old daughter. Today his Facebook status says he’s in a relationship with someone new. Wow.! I find that not only offensive, but disrespectful. She’s been with him for three years, they’ve lived together for two, and he jumps into a new relationship barely two weeks after dumping her.?

When my husband and I split, after 18 years of marriage and two children, it took him six weeks to bed another woman. I didn’t care at the time, as for me the marriage had been over for years, and I was grateful just to be away from him. But when I think back, six weeks is nothing after 18 years of marriage. It made me realise just how little I must have meant to him for him to be sleeping with someone new so soon. Had I realised just how little he cared, I’d have left the bugger far sooner than I did, and not gone through all the hell I did.

When my eldest son and his girlfriend of 14 months split, he was devastated, while she started a new relationship 10 days later.

Do people not mourn lost relationships anymore.? I mourned for over six months before finally starting to feel more like myself again. I’ve mourned other broken relationships for ages, and yet find that others just swap one partner for another like they’re on a production line, with no thought of trying to re-ignite their previous relationship or get over the loss of their previous partner.

 

Happiness · Life

Life’s Light

Seven years ago today, I met a man on Facebook who I thought had a great sense of humour. Little did I know he was about to change my life.

I was in a very dark place at the time, and he became my light. My faith in humanity was almost gone, and he gave me something to believe in, and when I couldn’t face the nightmare I felt my life had become, he gave me strength and offered me everything he had. Despite having no job, no home and no car of his own, he drove nearly 600km to save me, and bring me home.

In the past seven years he has come to mean everything to me. He gives far more than he takes, and has ensured that I never feel the desolation and despair that I did before meeting him. He truly is the most amazing person I’ve ever known.

Life · Randomness

Ancient Half-Wit

Why do kids always think we adults need to have jokes explained to us, or feel a need to check Google before believing a thing we tell them.? We’ve been around since before dinosaurs roamed the earth, as far as they’re concerned, but apparently in all that time… we’ve learned NOTHING.! Adults are ancient half-wits with no sense of humour. We’re their dumb relatives.

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My 11-year-old unofficial step-son (his Dad and I are not married) tells me the current thunderstorm raging outside is like McDonald’s, because he’s ‘lovin’ it’, then he sings the jingle, and says to me ‘get it.?’ *sarcastically* No, I don’t get it. I’m 44 years old, I’ve been in more McDonald’s’ than he’s had hot dinners, I have to listen to that increasingly more infuriating jingle every damn time there’s an advert on TV, and to the stupid catch phrase. So why, having suffered through all of that, would I not get a lame joke.?

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Sometimes I wonder if it’s because I’m female, English or he really thinks I’m as dumb as a post. He tells me about the latest new song he likes, Jonas Blue’s pop version of ‘Fast Car’, and looks at me like I’ve lost my mind when I tell him it’s an old song, and Tracy Chapman did it first (and better). So then he checks it on Google, to make sure I’m telling him the truth. As if I’d bother winding him up about a song, when there’s so much more I can wind him up about. He likes to explain games like Sonic the Hedgehog and Donkey Kong to me, despite knowing I have two sons who used to play (and explain to me) the exact same games when they were younger. I once explained to him that I was playing both games when I was 18, on a Sega Mega Drive. He had to look up what a Sega Mega Drive was, then turned to me and said “Wow.! You’re really old.!”

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Life · Randomness

Anxiety

Two days ago, I walked into town on my own to go to the hair salon. It’s taken me these past two days to get over it.

My partner’s children are staying with us for two weeks, over the summer holidays and for the first time in seven years are not up at the crack of dawn playing on their handheld game consoles. So when I asked my partner if he minded me getting my hair done, he said of course he didn’t, and I could go there by myself, couldn’t I, as it was an early appointment, and the kids would likely not be up yet.?

Of course I could, couldn’t I.? I spent the rest of the day before the appointment worrying about it. It’s not like I haven’t walked into town before on my own, I have, but always to meet him, knowing he’ll either be waiting for me, or will be there within 5 minutes of me getting to our arranged meeting place. This time I was going somewhere alone, and he wouldn’t be waiting for me, or be arriving there soon afterwards. I would be on my own. I got very anxious about it. I don’t like being around a lot of people, I feel suffocated, and struggle to breathe, I get claustrophobic and jittery, and feel trapped. I don’t like the feeling of being alone around people I don’t know, and while I know the stylist at the salon, she is still an unpredictable presence, and that worries me.

I barely slept the night before, worrying about having to be alone, and was up just after 6.30 a.m. three hours before I had to be there. I know the route, I know the neighbourhood, but it didn’t stop me feeling anxious. Leaving home to go into town was difficult, because I was alone, and walking down towards the town centre, I made sure I knew where the people around me were, and made sure to keep distance between them and me. Not that I think they’ll do anything, I just didn’t like their proximity.

I got to the salon, and waited a few minutes for her to finish with a previous client, and then sat and had my hair washed, and styled. Everything was fine. She was chatty, and funny, and as friendly as she always was, she made coffee, and I felt safe and happy there. I walked back home, perfectly fine, and feeling a little better about having gone out alone, but was mentally exhausted. I couldn’t function properly because I could think of nothing but being alone in town, and I got very upset about it. It’s taken me two days of being around the house, of doing normal everyday things with my partner, and the children, and trying not to think about it, to get past it.

Life · Randomness

The Storm

Last night, I was roused from the first decent sleep I’ve had in a few days by a crack of lightning that sounded like the roof was being ripped off, and a banging, booming overture of thunder and increasingly heavier rain that kept up it’s cacophony for an hour or so, sounding something like I imagine the last apocalyptic nuclear strike will sound, but being too exhausted to clamber out of bed to watch it, I missed the best thunderstorm we’ve had in these parts in years.! And I’m gutted. 😦

 

Life · What If's

Facing your regrets

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In February this year I started writing about my life, from the age of 6 years old, in a blog. I began with the people in my life at the time, the decisions they made that affected me, and the paths my life took because of their decisions. It’s not a pretty story, and there is no happy ending. I made some big mistakes, and have some regrets, and in putting it all in print, and reading the results of my labours, am facing some of those regrets, and they break my heart all over again, leaving me feeling depressed.

Memories of people I once loved, but had to leave behind, bring back those long buried feelings of heartache and loss, and in some cases, absolute devastation. Therapists tell us it’s good for the soul to write everything down, and exorcise some demons. It’s not the demons I’m having problems with, it’s the soul-destroying sense of loss and memories of people I know are still out there, somewhere, that are making me wish I could turn back the clock, and change the consequences of my decisions that affected them.

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Do any of you have regrets over leaving a loved one behind, in having to move on with your life.?

Life · Randomness

Roll on Winter

It’s already

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here today, and it’s only 11.45 a.m. I hate it.. Seriously.!! I’m a 15°C and under kind of girl, who loves rain, snow and thunderstorms. It’s supposed to get hotter this afternoon, while I’m sat in my partner’s Mom’s back garden, having a barbecue and being broiled alive myself in the humidity, and moist heat. Yeuch.!!! I just know I’m going to be like this…

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within half an hour. Melted into a steaming pool on the patio. And I’m not that person who moans when it gets too cold, and then moans when it gets too hot. I love the cold, I always have. I’m that person walking around in t-shirt and shorts in mid-November, when it’s bitterly cold and everyone else is buttoned up warm in coats, hats, gloves and scarves.

I’m an ice princess.

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Life · Randomness

Neighbourly Love

Don’t be fooled by the title. I despise my neighbours. They’re loud, obnoxious, alcoholic stoners, who don’t give two fucks about anybody who has the unfortunate task of having to live around them. They have parties until 5 a.m, not giving a shit that my partner has to be up at 6 a.m for work. They allow their two teenage troglodyte daughters to race around the house like a herd of elephants, screaming and fighting, while they themselves are permanently drunk, stoned and verbally at war… and they don’t care that the entire neighbourhood can hear them. If you knock on and ask them to please turn the volume down, the male ass-hole turns the volume up, and then challenges you to a fight.

I’m looking forward to the day he challenges me. I’ve been aching to kick his ass for the past five years.! This morning I open the front door to find a passive aggressive note sellotaped to it, ‘asking’ us to move the plant we have growing up a trellis on the border with their property, from their wall. It’s wisteria, it won’t damage the wall, it won’t strangle them in their beds (despite my attempts at training it to), and it won’t eat anyone while they sleep (unfortunately). As soon as the tiniest bit of tendril breaks across the border with their property, they’re whining like you wouldn’t believe about it. Now, if you look out down the boundary fence in the back garden, they have a tree stump leant against the bottom of their side of the fence that is encroaching onto my side. They have a colourful banner tied to the fence that has a good nine inches at the end that is hanging over into my garden. One of their troglodytes amazingly managed to make it to 17.! Have I gone out there whining and bitching about it, complaining that their shit is encroaching on my property.? No, I haven’t.

I think it’s bloody pathetic that someone can be so anal about a plant. It will be moved, don’t get me wrong. The last time the wisteria dared to set tendril tip on their wall, they ripped the whole tendril off, and killed four feet of plant. I was furious. My partner, in his usual non-aggressive way just shrugged, called them ass-holes and left it at that. He believes in keeping the peace with his neighbours, while I’m happy to beat them to death, and achieve the same result. Peace.