Holding pattern

I expect to be back with caustic comments about news stories written by other people fairly soon. In the meantime, I am out of my old job and office and not quite into the new one. Nothing will happen there until my friends at the amusingly named "Home Office" (do they eat chicken-fried steak there?) come through with a visa.

Why a complex visa application instead of a simple work permit application, you ask? I would happily answer that question, if I understood the reason. And just how complex? Well, that I can answer.

They want the originals of my undergraduate and graduate diplomas, which means pulling them out of their frames and devising a way of sending them to Sheffield. They want paycheck stubs covering an uninterrupted twelve-month period, with a calculation of the value of earnings over that period in colourful UK currency on the date of the last paycheck stub. They want a letter from my undergraduate institution certifying that courses were taught in English. This is a partial list. How secure do I feel sending this pile of documentation to a post office box in Sheffield? Let's just say that earlier this year they lost the passport of a dear friend of mine, and that even on request they will not acknowledge receipt of my documents. Perhaps it could be objected that a week is not sufficient time to acknowledge receipt of a package, or that two days is not sufficient time to respond to a simple e-mail inquiry. A number of other premises could be viable here. How often has it happened that people who appear to be inept are in fact merely bashful about their competence?

This may be something of a rush introduction the joys of UK bureaucracy. In any case, my Balkan friends seem to be delighted that "they do this to Americans too." They do!

I have meanwhile come to terms with the prospect that I will arrive at my new job late, and remain trusting that I will arrive at all. In that spirit, the office I never believed would be reasonably clean is now wholly empty, and today the car is getting its last bit of loving care from our mechanic, after which I will wash it and sell it.

And readers will forgive me, perhaps, if I seem a little distracted?