Monday, 26 November 2007

"Should I Stay or Should I Go" - Clash, 1982: Update #4

I've made a big step forward in my quest for UK settlement today -- I managed to book an appointment for the morning of the 13th of December, in Birmingham, to deliver my application (and all of the attachments) for Indefinite Leave to Remain! That's 9 days prior to the expiry of my work permit, and I'm just delighted to have gotten an appointment during that week at the nearest "Public Enquiry Office" to our house!

John and I saw my immigration solicitor in Oxford last week, and she's gone through all of my paperwork to make sure it's all in order. Everything is ready, apart from passport photos (which I'll have taken tomorrow or Wednesday) and the last of the bank statements (which will arrive in the mail in early December). I'm so glad to have her help.

Of course there's no guarantee that I'll actually get my Indefinite Leave to Remain on the day even though I'll deliver the paperwork in person. But at least there's a good chance I can. We'll see.

And we learned something interesting from the solicitor last week. Because I'm married to a British citizen, once my Indefinite Leave to Remain has been issued, I can immediately turn around and apply for British citizenship! We were very surprised -- we thought I would have to wait another year before considering becoming a "dual". It's an exciting prospect, and I think I'll start that project sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, here's what else is going on with John and me...

1. It looks like John is going to have to have surgery on his neck, to fix the herniated disc. That's not great news...but what is good news is that the surgeons in Oxford are said to be among the best in the UK, and they feel they have a good chance of fixing his problem. I sure hope so. He's in a lot of pain. We're hoping he can get it scheduled some time during the holidays, so that I'm sure to be home. I know he's dreading this -- and so am I -- but he just can't go on like this.

2. And my end-of-the-year travel continues. I'm off to Paris Thursday morning for a one-day course there on Friday. I get back late Friday night. Then Monday morning, I fly out to Rome to spend the balance of next week teaching there for 4 days, getting back Friday night. And two days later, I head off for one day's teaching in London on Monday the 10th. I'm tired already, just thinking about what's coming up. But then that will be it for the year.

So that's it for now. You know almost as much about what's going on at our house as we do!


Thursday, 22 November 2007

"Let Us Give Thanks For Being Here" - Redbull Singers, 1997

HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all of my family & friends in the United States!

I must admit that I'm feeling a little sorry for myself this evening. I had to work on Thanksgiving....and not just work in the Oxford office, as I'm running training courses in London Wednesday through tomorrow. So not only am I not in America for Thanksgiving, I'm not even at home with John! Here's my Thanksgiving dinner tonight, at the hotel in Greenwich...

Thai Green Chicken Curry from the hotel's room service. Well, at least it's poultry!

Meanwhile it was an interesting day today in the offices of one of the world's major oil companies. They had a security drill today, simulating a bomb treat/bomb attack. They had announced ahead of time that everybody would be asked to leave the building some time during the day. But we couldn't "evaculate" to a plaza or plazas outside. A bomb would send glass from all of the Canary Wharf buildings flying all over the place. That wouldn't be safe.

They had what they described as an "invacuation". We left the offices for one of the levels of their underground parking garage. And when we were allowed to return to the offices, once Security were sure the building was cleared and the security drill was finished, we were told we could "repopulate" the building.

Good Lord, how I HATE corporate language!!!!

Enjoy your turkey dinners, everybody!


Sunday, 18 November 2007

"Let It Snow" - various recording artists, written in 1945

Look what's happening in our Oxfordshire village tonight!

(Click on the photo for a full-sized version.)


Wednesday, 14 November 2007

"More" - Julie London, year unknown

Would you like to see some more photos from this week's trip to London? Here you go...and remember you can click on any of the photos to see a full-sized version.

This is the view to the west out of my room window at the Hilton Metropole. I looked on a map and saw that the body of water I'm seeing is called the Paddington Basin.

Zooming in on that view, you'll see London's Paddington train station in the middle of the image.

And here's the view from my room, looking due south.

From the other side of the hotel, in the elevator lobby, I took this photo to the west. This is the continuation of the Marylebone flyover, as it turns into the A40 heading west out of London (toward Oxford, by the way).

And again from the elevator lobby, here's the view to the east. that's Edgware Road (north of Marylebone Road) in the foreground.

From a men's clothing store on Edgware Road -- I think my ex-husband used to wear stuff like this in the late-70's! (And for those of you in the UK, I think that this is where they got the clothes for the TV show "Life on Mars"!!!) The clothes are very "Starsky and Hutch"!

More "70s" clothing from the display window of the same shop.

Treats in the windows of an Arabic bakery on Edgware Road.

And just look at these amazing Middle Eastern tea sets in the window of an Edgware Road shop!

"French" furniture in a shop on Edgware Road. (I hope I'm not offending any Lord Celery readers whose living rooms look like this!)

Last but not least, here's a rhinestone-covered Mini in one of the Christmas display windows of Selfridges. It's very cool!

Goodnight from London!


Tuesday, 13 November 2007

"Christmas Time in London Town" - Nina & Frederik, 1961

I'm unexpectedly working in London again this week. Last Friday, a very last-minute onsite was arranged for me just west of Central London, starting today. I'm essentially tutoring 3 gentlemen from Africa in a 3-day oil trading class. They are interesting, eager, likeable students. But I was hoping to have a full week of no-travel this week. Oh well...that's what my job is like sometimes!

So I'm staying in a large Hilton on Edgware Road. You can read about this London neighborhood on this Wikipedia link. You'll see it's very interesting.

Here are some photos I took today -- first, from the hotel, and then as I walked from the hotel down to Oxford Street after class. As usual, you can click on any photo to see the full-sized version.

First, here's a photo from the training room. We're looking to the north, as Edgware Road passes under what's called the Marylebone flyover.

This is the same view, except taken with the telephoto lens. You can see the Edgware Road Bakerloo line tube station.

Looking to the east -- still from the training room window -- as the Marylebone flyover merges into the Marylebone Road.

Another similar view of the flyover...except this one shows the more-typical traffic congestion seen in this part of London.

South of the Hilton, on Edgware Road, I liked the contrast of the Arabic smoking pipes with the produce at this green grocer's shop.

Christmas lights on Oxford Street, near the famous Selfridges Department Store.

Another shot of Oxford Street. And how much more "London" can you get than a red double-decker bus, two black London cabs and a Mini!

I didn't buy a thing, by the way...I just did some windowshopping! REALLY!


Monday, 5 November 2007

"Only the Good Die Young" - Billy Joel, 1977

Our news over the weekend was full of talk of the removal of King Tutankhamun from his sarcophagus, so that his mummified body could be put on public display for the first time. There's a link here to photos of the event on the BBC's website. They are quite remarkable...although a bit creepy.

But what kept going through my mind as I watched and heard the news from Egypt? I kept "soundtracking" Steve Martin's goofy song"King Tut". I mentioned that to John. He'd never heard the song before...much less seen any video of Martin's performance.

Thanks to YouTube, it was possible to show John the "Saturday Night Live" performance from (gasp!) 1978. Here's a link to the video. Perhaps some of my British readers will be curious; and for my American friends, it will bring back a lot of memories.

And after all these years, the clip still makes me cackle with laughter!

Remember: "He gave his life for tourism."


Friday, 2 November 2007

"Don't Throw Your Love Away" - Searchers, 1964

My British (but living in the US) friend Steve wrote recently about how the American use of the term "Will Call" ticket window sounds strange to him. (See his entry of the 7th of October.) I'm going to write about something I hear in Britain which continues to sound very peculiar to me, even though I'm coming up on my 5th anniversary of living here. And I heard it on the radio again this morning.

People here often use the word "rubbish" as a verb.

On the report this morning, a woman said something like, "...and then they just rubbished his idea."

That sounds really, really weird to me. And then I started thinking. Rubbish here is what we Americans would call trash. And we would certainly say something like, "...and then they just trashed his idea."

So I guess it's not so strange after all.

By the way, I wonder how long I'll have to live here before I start calling the trash can a rubbish bin....and the trash men the bin men?


PS If you're interested in these American-versus-British-English-terminology issues, check out one of my favorite blogs -- "Separated By a Common Language". Lynne always has something interesting to say!

Thursday, 1 November 2007

"I'm Gonna Knock on Your Door" - Isley Brothers, 1959

John wondered if we'd have any trick-or-treaters at our house last night. We did. Five batches of them.

And what cuties they were, too!

"Dave", the ghoul in our window, gave several of them quite a scare, apparently. In a couple of cases, before we even heard the knock at the door, we heard a loud scream or squeal...and we assumed that Dave had been spotted! It was also fun to overhear what some of the kids said as they were walking away from the house, after getting their treats. One pointed out to his dad that, "She's American, isn't she?". Another told his brother that we had a gargoyle down by the plants (and we do have a concrete gargoyle by the potted plants near the front door). One young teenager, dressed in a fancy devil costume, asked me where in America I'm from, because, as she said, "I have family in America." But she was off to rejoin her costumed friends before I could ask her where her American relatives live.

The village kids were all very polite, and we had to encourage some to take more than just one little chocolate. John and I had a great time answering the door, and we even met one family from the block behind us. Although we're in the same cluster of houses, we'd never met them before.

It was great fun!

Once the time approached 9pm, we removed Dave from the study window, blew out the candles in the pumpkin-shaped candle holders, and turned off the porch light. I noticed something on the bench outside the front door. It was two little paper cutout pumpkins, as seen in the photo below. I wonder if one of the kids left them as a present to us...or did someone just set them down and forget to pick them up again when they left?

(Click on any image for a full-sized version.)

If you haven't already, check out John's Halloween entry on his see the fantastic spider photo he took yesterday on our front-porch lamp. Really cool!

One more thing before I end the discussion of Halloween 2007. Here's a photo of my favorite little Houston gobblins, Lee and William, sent by their mom Melanie. They are so cute that I decided to share...