I wonder whether this thing still works... At worst, it doesn’t, and I’ve just published a post modern comment on the futile transience of modern communication. At best you’d all surely forgotten you were subscribed to my blog, but with any luck, an automatically generated email has recently arrived in your inbox, directing you to this essay of indeterminate length, which I am now beginning to write. I’m jumbling my timelines somewhat there, but you get the idea.
If so, welcome back! Let’s not pretend for a moment that this entry heralds any sort of new beginning: we’ve trodden this path many times now; any proclamation that I shall henceforth maintain my blogging habits with impeccable regularity would be heeded by only the most naïve of ears. Still, I hope it’s nice to regather after all this time, for an unexpected dose of my loquacious, directionless, self indulgent musings.
There are reasons behind my sudden return to the blogosphere, and they have to do with the forthcoming diplomatic tour of England to be undertaken by Sarah and me. It hasn’t received quite the same media attention as certain exchange visits made by the newlywed Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who seem to enjoy the cloyingly reverent company of their Antipodean subjects. Nonetheless, we fully expect an appreciative frisson of excitement at our impending arrival.
The first reason for blogging is logistical: it might be useful for some of you to know about the timing and nature of our visit, and our whereabouts during the tour; with this in mind, I’ll present a rough draft itinerary later, once meandering prose no longer provides sufficient clarity. Secondly though - and please don’t take this the wrong way – a few well chosen words now could save us from any number of tedious, repetitive conversations in the future.
It’s not that I don’t want to converse with you all in England – on the contrary. Rather, I want those conversations to be varied, enjoyable and educational: a bit of a laugh, and plenty of listening to how things are with you, and what you’ve been up to. What we don’t want is for our precious and all too brief moments together to be spent engaging in small talk, at best administrative and necessary, at worst frustrating and forgettable. Rather than waste time negotiating the murky harbours of ‘catching up’, let us set sail on the clear blue seas of building friendships and creating memories.
It’s a problem which would have been averted by more consistent and informative blogging on my part, but what’s not done is done, and a solution must be found. Therefore, in a development which, I now realise, will provide a clearer explanation for this blog than that attempted in the previous five paragraphs, I present to you:
Paul & Sarah’s England Tour – Frequently Asked Questions
“So how’ve you been?”
“Good, thanks! After 18 months in Australia we’re really happy with how life’s going. It’s great to be back over here for a bit (albeit in Ombersley rather than Clent) and I’m sure it will fly by and we won’t spend nearly as much time with everyone as we’d like. I’ve missed England, especially family and friends, but we’ve no regrets whatsoever about making the move.”
“You like Australia then?”
“I really do. A couple of previous blogs showcase some pros and cons of being here, but on the whole it’s exactly the sort of place I can see myself making a home, and that’s what we’ve started doing. For a sports fan there’s nowhere like Melbourne on earth, and it’s also a really vibrant, cultural city. I don’t get the obsession with expensive coffee though...”
“Where are you guys living?”
“Hawthorn. It’s an inner eastern suburb, comparable in size/significance and city commutability to, say, Selly Oak or Harborne. Islington to either of London’s centres would be a parallel of sorts too. The trams are handy, cheap and really versatile for everywhere I need to go, and there’s covered parking for Sarah’s car, which she needs for work.”
“Ah, so at least one of you has a job. Where’s that then?”
“That’s Lilydale in the outer east, just before sprawling suburbs give way to beautiful countryside. Sarah’s folks live in Lilydale, as did we (and nearby Mooroolbark for a while) until October last year. Sarah teaches at the catholic school there, commuting ‘the wrong way’ so no traffic. Lilydale will serve as something of a base camp for our wedding, in the nearby Yarra Valley.”
“A plush pad for bargain rent then, I trust?”
“It’s a great flat, plenty of space, and top floor so peaceful too. Not high rise though, just two flights up, but a great view of the city, which illuminates stunningly at night. Rent is affordable, in part thanks to our home’s finest feature: Jasmine is one of Sarah’s bridesmaids, and has thankfully resisted overtures from rival housemates; we’ll be married for a while before we let her go!”
“Ah yes – when’s the wedding?”
“January 7th next year, in the grounds of a picturesque winery. It. Will. Not. Rain. We’re posting the English invitations while we’re here, and we really, really want as many people as possible to make the trip if they possibly can. If you’ve any questions or doubts about it, please grab a moment with me and I’ll see what I can do to sway you in the right direction.”
“How are the wedding plans going?”
“Talk to Sarah.”
“So... Paul... Any sort of... job?”
“Yes and no. I’ve been pretty much continuously employed for over a year now, doing office stuff, and I was in one job for six months, but that’s the longest I can stay in any place due to the terms of my visa. Most recently I’ve been at a state government department, playing with spreadsheets, but obviously after this seven-week ‘holiday’ I’ll be seeking a new assignment on my return.”
“What’s the visa situation then?”
“I arrived on a 12-month working holiday visa, expiry Nov 2010. Deducing that Sarah was a keeper, I applied for a de facto partner visa, temporary for two years then made permanent provided she still likes me. I’m on a ‘bridging visa’ pending a decision. That application, all 30 pages of it, with several supporting testimonies and countless evidential documents, was submitted nine months ago.”
“Nine months? You’ve got to be kidding! How can even the most labyrinthine of bureaucratic processes, in even the most inefficient of fledgling civilisations, let alone in a nation proudly rubbing shoulders with the planet’s most powerful capitalist democracies and uniquely experienced in the process of mass immigration, be so staggeringly inefficient?”
“Good question – and, might I add, most eloquently put. I’m buggered if I know though. Previous calls to chase a response have been met with confirmation that nine months is a standard waiting period for these things. A recent enquiry raised the prospect of an expensive medical, and confirmed that I must pay for a new bridging visa or else they won’t let me back in after the England trip!”
“Crikey. Those Aussies have got a nerve. Anyway, let’s talk about ME now.”
“Excellent. I’m all ears...”
You get the idea? Now that you’ve read that, I get an extra 20 minutes enjoying your company, and we can before time runs out. Speaking of which, here comes that (highly provisional) itinerary as promised. We can’t wait to see you all. Bye for now!
Saturday July 2nd:
Arrive Heathrow, staying with Ben & Charlie.
Drinks with London friends.
Brighton with Holly & Christian.
Home to Mum & Dad in Ombersley.
Bath with Mark &Ali.
Meet baby Kezia, little Ben and cousins’ pregnant wives etc. This is more important than the beer fuelled Worcs Warks Twenty20 cricket bonanza down the road, of course.
Party in Clent. Followed by Vine, maybe...?
Quiz night at The Cross!
Mon 11th – Wed 13th:
Disappearing, exhausted, to secret location.
Meet baby Gabriella? Little Ben time too.
Fri 15th – Mon 18th:
Joint Stag. Sarah seeing Holly.
Tue 19th – Thu 21st:
Up for grabs. Little Ben time, and Vine, maybe...?
Sarah departs Heathrow in the afternoon.
Sat 23rd – Sun 24th:
My Stag, if Adam’s home from doing war.
Three of remaining four weeks:
Hopefully earning a bit of cash Mon-Fri, 9-5. Also include checking out SAOS La Cage rehearsals, more little Ben time, and Vine, maybe...?
A friend’s birthday party.
Sat August 13th:
Ben & Charlie’s wedding, Devon.
Week preceding wedding:
At Ben’s beck and call in capacity as best man.
Fri Aug 19th:
Pack, sleep, chill with Mum & D- ooh, are Villa playing at home?!
Depart Heathrow, wondering where all the time went.
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