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Monday, 21 December 2009

The Shortest Day

Before we begin, I should get it over with. This is our Christmas contribution.

Well, its arrived, and,I may say, not before time either. To What, you might ask, is reference being made,comma question mark, that is if references can be made instead of copying and pasting from Wikipedia.In answer I can conform that Reference is towards two things really, firstly the shortest day. And secondly, confirmation that I am officially a Cannuck. Well, sort of on the second one.

The shortest day is come and gone, and frankly, good riddance to the thing. Over the last few weeks it has, (in the parlance of texting and the numerous conservative and neo-liberal blog sites that my avator Callisandra remorselessly harries), IMHO hardly been worth arising from the pile of cats, partner and blankets that is the Second Least Unfinished Room at Large Mansions. No sooner that eyes have peered over the edge of the duvet then its time reaccomodate the poor things to a hastening gloom. For myself, the window of opportunity to actually do anything is further reduced because after nearly half a century of practice, I still havent mastered the art of putting anything in the same place twice. While in spring, summer and slightly beyond, there is relatively little harm done, at least in terms of VOH (Viable Operational Hours)by these habits, in these dark days of winter three quarters of an hour spent pretending not to look for my glasses (it ceased being cute to RHB about fifteen years ago and now she just gets annoyed) represents about a quarter of the day wasted. A further fifteen minutes for keys, twelve for ATM cards, six for bike lock, cape and leggings and twenty five for the detailed "to do" list that we compiled the previous night and half the day is gone. In truth, I may as well just reduce the unnecessary expenditure of energy and go to bed in mid-November, waking bright and refreshed on January the fourth. But now, the equinox has passed. From here on in, its all going to get better - longer days, light improves, optimism reborne. There is only the minor inconvenience of a tax return, three essays and an exam to complete and life can, once again, be lived to the full.

THe second item on our agenda, is the "sort of" confirmation of my Canadianness. Aware that this entry has the potential to be a growing tablature of self confessed failings, I should note that I am really good at growing mustard plants. Unfortunately, I have suddenly realised that this is also not a great advertisement for my accomplishments because from growing mustrad as a soil improvement crop that I was supposed to "till" back into the soil, sometime in August, the reason I have brought them up at all is that they are still there in my garden, patiently awaiting execution. I am, in this spirit of ongoing confession, quite forgetful. And before hoisting myself on my own petard of forgetfulness, I was about to describe another failing, namely that of putting things off till the last moment and how it nearly led to me not being Canadian. So, onwards with the Canadian thing....the "sort of" status of my citizenship.

When we arrived in Canada, I hadnt really devoted any reflection to the future possibilities of nationality that might comprise issues for sombre and serious consideration over the years that might stretch out ahead of us. Matters of loyalty, of governance, ethical and moral questions, of affiliation and history, knowledge and culture all point to the complex of emotional and intellectual rationalisations that should be given proper consideration when deciding one's national allegiances. With this in mind, the five seconds after arriving on Canadian soil for the first time that it took me to decide that I wanted "in", might seem less than indicated by due process, but anyone saying that has never landed at what is effectively the middle of a pine forest (Halifax airport) in August, at dusk, when the scent of pine is at its most fragrant and the horizon is at its biggest. And they have particularly not landed there from Birmingham, England. And they have doubly not done so under the influence of 8o milligrams of the finest Valium the British National Health Service can provide.

Despite this imperative desire, it was partly in consequence of the fact that I sometimes (read 'ALWAYS') slightly (read 'ALWAYS')tend (read 'ALWAYS')to procrastinate slightly (read 'IGNORE DEADLINES COMPLETELY')when completing official forms (read 'WHEN COMPLETING OFFICIAL FORMS')that I failed to apply for citizenship at the first available opportunity. In truth, my slight procrastination is so acute that it was only as I was leaving Canada, some ten years after arriving for the first time, that I actually got round to applying for citizenship and thus fulfilling a lifelong dream. Which is possibly why, as I was on the phone today, inquiring about the status of my citizenship application ( a mere two years after submitting the relevant forms) that the helpful person from the Canadian High Commission in LOndon was slightly sceptical about the urgency of my case. Gwen, as we'll call her (as unCanadian a name as it is possible to invent), when she eventually unravelled my circumstances was sceptical:

"I just dont understand why it has taken you this long to firstly apply, secondly why you applied when you did, and thirdly why you have left it two years to make enquiries about the status of your form?"

"Well, I just didnt want to bother anyone, I suppose" I said "Besides which, its NOT urgent. We are not planning on moving back to Canada soon. Although" I added in the vain hope that The High Commission would just happen to have been recently informed of a joint research post in Euroscience and anthropological education studies awaiting in Happy Valley and were embarked, at all levels, on a global search to find the elusive perfect team for same, "we would go back if we could."

"So when do you plan return to Canada?" said Gwen "sometime in the next five years?"

"Er, I dont know"

"Next ten years?"

"Erm, maybe, let me see...well er, no. Probably. But if things change, we could go back next year."

"Is that likely?"

"Er, no. Actually, I just want the passport. Just in case."

"Perhaps if I can explain sthings a different way? " said Gwen "The whole point of immigration departments is to deal with cases of people who are actually emigrating to somewhere. If you excuse me sir, you dont seem to be going anywhere. Is that correct?"

"Well, I suppose so" I said "but my wife obtained citizenship when she was out of the country and I thought I could do the same...."

There was a slight pause, then "Your wife is a Canadian citizen?"

"Why yes. I thought you guys just knew?"

"How would we just know?" Gwen asked.

"Dunno" (slightly sulky this)"thought you just did"

Gwen paused for a little longer then said " You havent written it on your citizenship application. It is the most important factor in determining entitlement. As a member of the family class, you are entitled to citizenship........may I put you on hold sir?...."

A few minutes later, Gwen returned with the welcome news that she had checked my files including my original documentation as a landed immigrant, and she happily can confirm that RHB is not only a citizen, but is also my wife. Furthermore, continuing to live with RHB, even thouh we live in HUll, counts as living on Canadian soil. Therefore, I am de facto a Canadian citizen. In principle, my application has been accepted. All that remains are the formalities, which present a considerable difficulty, because technically, when I applied for citizenship, I applied to the wrong office. In a fit of stupidity that I can only describe as 'not uncharacteristic', I managed to misinterpret the relevant instructions on the original form and sent my form to the St John's office in Newfoundland. AS I was actually living in the UK at the time, I should have sent my form to the HIgh Commission in London. After some discussion, the best advice is to wait until I return to Canada, contact the ST John office and arrange a swearing in. Other options involve re-processing, more money and the possibilitiy that I'll do something else to derail the process. In the end, I am satisfied. I am Canadian, sort of. English, sort of. Irish, a bit and somewhat Scouse.

1 comment:

JoeyMac said...

A visit to Toronto for an official swearing in party would be welcome :) BTW, it was probably your lack of interest that convinced her you would be the perfect Canadian. ';)