So, in the nearly eight years I've been here, I've finally managed to fill up the pages of my passport, or nearly so anyway. This would likely not be a problem, as this country is perfectly happy to stamp anywhere and everywhere, and as I've applied now for a British passport (finally), which will negate the need for stamps as I travel around Europe. Problem is, this takes a long period of time, and requires I send in my American passport. I'm off to Germany next Thursday, which sort of requires I have a passport, of some sort. Anyway, the problem is that the Germans, being the lovely anal retentive folk that they are, seem to have this thing for always stamping the 'In' stamp next to the 'Out' stamp, and I don't have any ins left next to my outs (always a problem). So, in the interest of not being told 'nein' at the border, I forked over $82 to get an additional 24 pages stitched into my passport (thus making my weenie American passport as big as a hefty European pasport). To do this while in London requires that one visit the American Embassy, which is about as cuddly and friendly as, well, something not very cuddly and friendly. Outside the gates, I have to show ID. I then wait in this line, from which I am called into a rather reinforced looking antebuilding by this sort of door troll (English, actually), where I show my ID again. All of my belongings go through the x-ray and I walk through the metal detector. I am not allowed to bring in any electronic devices of any sort (fortunately, I new this before, so left my phone behind, but they do actually have a phone-check where one can leave one's phone if one was naughty and forgot). After being suitably cleared and telling them my business, I am allowed to leave the antebuilding (you can't leave the back if the door in the front is open). I turn left out of the door and walk towards the corner of the building (still outside), towards the first man with a machine gun. I turn right at the corner and walk towards the steps - towards the second man with the machine gun. Up the steps to the nice (English) ladies at the reception desk, where I receive my number, then up another set of steps into a large waiting room with many chairs in rows, where I sit to wait my turn. Fortunately, as I live in the UK, I am used to spending inordinate amounts of time waiting around in such dreary rooms, and it actually goes fairly quickly. I look around at the decor, which was probably pretty cool looking back in 1960, when it was built, but it's looking a little tired now. Apparently, it's not actually American soil, because the Duke of Westminster refused to sell it to the Americans. Still, it doesn't stop the embassy staff from refusing to pay the London Congestion Charge - they see it as a foreign tax, and therefore have declared themselves exempt. They are the worst, apparently, in terms of unpaid tickets. Charming. Anyway, I handed over my passport, and returned today for the same routine to pick it up.
So, you'd think that for $82 they would make some vague attempt to have it look nice. Ha! Yes, the new pages are stitched into the book, but they aren't even the same size! They are substantially smaller, and each page has some scenic drawing of the USA with some banal or nauseating quotation on top of it. My fave is from Ronald Reagan. Apparently, perhaps in a fit of Cold War busting delirium, he said, "We live in a world lit by lightning. So much is changing and will change, but so much endures and transcends time". Excuse me, what? That's the sort of thing one would say after a few too many bong hints, or possibly something from "Deep thoughts, by Jack Handy". Apparently that was from his second inaugural address. Actually, it sort of reminds me of this famous quote by another famous American:
If I could turn back time
If I could find a way
I'd take back those words that hurt you
And you'd stay
If I could reach the stars
I'd give them all to you
Then you'd love me, love me
Like you used to do
But I digress... (Might need to egress, as I'm definitely not going to progress...)
We're having a drought here. Apparently it's the driest in like 100 years, and, to be honest, things are looking pretty crispy and the weather has been generally fabulous. If it were CA I wouldn't worry, but this being England, the vegetation starts looking pretty sad pretty quickly, and apparently crops are on the verge of failure. I'm sure it's not climate change though, even though we just had the warmest spring on record... Hmm.
Oh yeah, and I forgot - David and I voted. It was our very first vote as British citizens, and took approximately 10 seconds, as it was a simple yes/no referendum. Very simple - just two nice ladies with a sheet of paper with our names on it. They gave us each a small sheet of paper and a pencil and we put a big 'X' in the box, folded it and put it in the ballot box. No touch screen voting here, thank you!
And finally - David's mother was here for about two weeks and we actually didn't fight! It's only taken 12 years, but we actually got along. I suppose some of it is that both of us have mellowed in our dotage, some of it is down to me just accepting that things are as they are, but whatever it was, it was pretty nice. I never thought I'd say that...
Right - must make my lunch for tomorrow and then head to bed.