20 June, 2007

Long Weekend

Had to go on a management course last week, which, among other things, left me feeling very far short of what I should be in every sphere of my life. I suppose it could be worse. I could be one of the later Byzantine emperors, whose shortcomings were generally punished by (if they were very lucky) having their noses cut off and being exiled to Bulgaria, (averagely lucky) being assassinated on the steps of the altar in St Sophia, (very unlucky) having their feet cut off, being dragged backwards attached to the tail of an ass through Constantinople, then being suspended being two pillars and having things thrown at you until you died (mind you, this particular emperor was really asking for it).

Had a lovely long weekend as I took Monday off work. This was the weekend we were supposed to be going to Kyoto in, but bailed because of all the moving stress – and I think it was a good decision.

LSS sent out our change of address e-mail to all and sundry, and so many people wrote back saying, What, no leaving drinks? that now we have had to plan a leaving drinks for this weekend. It started off by my saying, look, we’ll keep it simple, just booze and crisps. Now, LSS-fashion, it has expanded into cheeseboards, crostini and chili.

Went to Shek O yesterday and romped in the cooling waves with the kids, our enjoyment heightened all the more by the knowledge that contemporaneously the Merde Alors were walking the Dragon’s Back in the 30 degree heat, for reasons best known to themselves. Colourful paragliders were hovering over the mountains. Lunch at the Chinese-Thai place with the Merde Alors, who survived their deranged trek, then back home for more splashy fun in the swimming pool.

I have developed yet another huge boil on my other thigh, when the last one has barely healed. Alright, I give up, I’m going to take the antibiotics. Coincidentally, I was just reading the Book of Job the other day. I am not taking my plague of boils with his equanimity. Curly is in a super-allergic phase, and LSS has to weep for half-an-hour every morning because his eyes sting so much. Really, the sooner we leave unhealthy HK the better.

Bought Season 1 of Entourage from HMV and watched it over the weekend. Like it. Going back for Season 2 today.

Got into work today and found my calendar has been filled with meetings for this morning, which I had deliberately kept clear in order to write people’s interim appraisals. Buggeration.

13 June, 2007

Korean Delight

Tee-hee. We have some delegates in town for a conference at the moment, including the one from Korea, who has a lovely soft delicate feminine phone manner. All my boys are big devotees of Korean TV dramas and are all in a lather at the thought of our Korean delegate being in town, who hitherto has only been the subject of their fevered imaginings. What a wonderful thing is the human imagination! I have told her to take off her glasses and put a bit of lippy on before the Fan Club finally get to meet her.

12 June, 2007


I am stressed, stressed, stressed!

Things to do:
Make sure Virgin send a big enough car at the other end to take all our luggage.
Arrange with the letting agent so that we can get into the flat when we arrive from Heathrow.
Arrange educational psychologist’s assessment for Mo, as the school won’t offer him a place without it. I think they might have mentioned this 3 months ago when I sent in the application form and made it clear that there were issues there.
Sort out UK dental plan as I have to get some prolonged dental work done stat!
Organise remote access to office e-mail during July.
I got the settlement visa, only now it turns out that, since 2 April, in order to get indefinite leave to remain in the UK, I need to take a test to demonstrate my familiarity with life in the UK. I looked at some of the information which I am going to have to bone up on. Sample: What powers do the devolved administrations of Scotland and Wales have? My answer: Who gives a shit? If they really wanted to test my familiarity with living in the UK, they should be asking questions like: Jade Goody: Why?
Make list of handy numbers, addresses and e-mails.
Turn UK bank account into a joint account.
Activate HK account in the UK as my personal account.
Complete 2007 tax return.
Buy a rubber mat. Mo has suddenly started wetting the bed. Moving-stress-related presumably. We have him sleeping on a tatami, which is just uncomfortable enough for him not to fall into such a deep sleep that he doesn’t wake up in time.

Things that are sorted (hopefully):
We have somewhere to live in Barnes for 2 months.
Our tenants called up yesterday to say that they would move out of our flat at end July if we let them off July’s rent. This was what we had proposed to them about a month ago. If they had just called up last week, we wouldn’t already have committed to taking the Barnes place for 2 months. So the whole thing is costing us (or rather the company) one month’s more rent than it should have. I suppose the way to look at it is that it was always going to cost 3 months’ rent, so it would just have been a bonus if it had ended up only costing 2 months’. Anyway, we will be back in our own flat by beginning August, which is definitely A Good Thing.
The hole on my leg is healing up nicely.
We have sold the car for HKD35k less than we bought it for 6 months ago. Considering the car before that only cost us HKD20k in total, I would have to say that Euromoney are not going to be writing this one up in their Deal of the Year awards.
Granted the first car was a useless pile of junk that stopped working after 6 months when part of the engine fell out onto the road, but this second one was little better, made funny noises, sprang strange leaks, wouldn’t start if it was too damp and had an aircon that wouldn’t work if the day was too hot (seems a bit counterproductive for an airconditioning unit). In short, I am not impressed by either French or German cars. It’s Japanese for me, next time round.

Finally finished Chateaubriand. Back to volume 3 of Gibbon.

I am in such a bad mood I feel positively homicidal. No-one had better cross me this afternoon.

08 June, 2007

The Call of the Wild

Went to yoga today and did my back in doing the Cobra. That was not the bloody point of going!

I noticed yesterday that whenever LSS calls me up at work, I immediately realise that I’m dying for the loo and have to cut the conversation short – so he always thinks I’m monumentally busy at work, when in fact I am just dashing off to the loo. I think it is because when I’m working I tend to filter out all the messages from my body. It is only when my concentration is broken, eg by LSS’s phone-call, that I realise I have been needing the loo for the past hour.

I’ve also noticed that often when I go into a bookshop, I immediately find myself needing the loo. I thought this was just my own particular weirdness, but other people have mentioned this as well. Must be something to do with the new-book smell, I think, that triggers it.

07 June, 2007

More Chateaubriand

Chateaubriand is winding up now, discoursing on the post-revolution future of French society. Should we go down the American route of universal mediocrity, he muses? Or the Chinese route, where they have already discovered everything, invented everything, and now lounge around in the Celestial Empire doing nothing? What will language be like when everything is homogenised? Will there be a simplified bastardised language available to all, while each nation uses its own language internally? As previously noted, how very prescient he seems!

The crater in my leg is getting shallower and drier every day. It is like a little dried-up pool, with a spring in the bottom of it. I’m curious to see whether there will be a scar. LSS says there will and that this is what happens to people who don’t take their antibiotics.

I asked Curly this morning what happens to little girls who don’t put on their shoes when their mother tells them to.
- What, she said.
- Nobody knows, I said. Do you know why?
- Why?
- Because they’re NEVER SEEN AGAIN.


- [in a small voice] You wouldn’t really do that to me, would you, Mummy?

She only does it to get hugs.

While we are in our rented accommodation, we will be internet-less and piano-less. How will I survive? At least at work I can access the internet, but I am seriously contemplating buying an electronic keyboard just to get through those 3 months. Our current neighbours will be very glad not to hear the Sinfonia from the beginning of the Marriage of Figaro being massacred on a daily basis.

06 June, 2007

Fully Occupied

Nothing much to post as my head is full of nothing but moving. We have, hopefully, found ourselves somewhere to live for the next couple of months, in Barnes. It looks really nice in the photos, much nicer than our actual flat.

What is not occupied with moving is occupied with plotting my novel, which is great fun. It's a fantasy novel - I can understand why people write these, as you are not constrained by the facts of history, geography, physics etc at all. You can make it up entirely.

There is a photo of the loopy writer previously mentioned on the front page of the Guardian Online today, looking deranged in a meadow. On the plus side, the article led me to a review of her stupid book in the Sunday Times, which says pretty much everything I have to say on the subject.

LSS has gone out for curry with the boys tonight. I was supposed to be out at an end of year theology group dinner in Disco Bay, but got so hung up at work that in the end I missed it. Came home and had pizza instead. Not sure that this isn't a vast improvement on the DB dinner. The last time I had anything to do with church people I ended up sitting through 90 minutes of the very nice vicar's photos of his trip to the Holy Land. Aaaargh!

05 June, 2007

Monumental Stupidity

I was sitting in the British Consulate today watching a Foreign and Commonwealth Office video on the glories of Britain. As propaganda it was topnotch. Oh, the lovely Scottish glens! Ah multi-cultural Britain! Yes, the splendours of Sir George Gilbert Scott’s Victorian edifices! etc etc. Made me feel quite happy and excited to be going back.

Had to apply for an outrageously expensive (GBP500) settlement visa in the end. They said, the rules for returning residents is that you have to have been resident in the UK less than 2 years ago. Well, why didn’t they sodding well say that yesterday? I told them at the time that I had been out of the UK for the past 7 years. What is the point of saying, let us consider it, as if they have any discretion, if they don’t? Asinine bureaucrats.

Also arguing with some idiotic letting agents in London who charged GBP800 on my credit card as a deposit for a flat which then fell through. They claimed to have voided the charge, but when I checked on my credit card account, the GBP800 had gone through and had not been reversed. When I enquired, the agents sent me a screendump which showed that they had attempted to void the transaction, but with a statement on the top of the screen saying that it was impossible to void a transaction that had already settled. Considering the transaction had already settled by the time the flat fell through, I would have thought it was obvious to the meanest intelligence that therefore the Void attempt would have failed. Why am I having to explain to these idiots how their own credit card system works? Or to explain to them how they can check their own bank reconciliations against their own accounts to understand that they are now GBP800 richer than they should be? What function do these people fulfil on the planet, since clearly performing their jobs competently is not in their scope?

How, in short, is it possible to be this stupid?

04 June, 2007

Arsing British Consulate

What an exhausting weekend! We fell into the bed at the end of Sunday, looked at each other and said, Let’s not have a farewell party. Every single weekend from now till we leave is booked up with stuff and we simply cannot face it. The only thing I wanted to do this weekend was go down to the club and lounge by the pool and I didn’t manage to do that.

Had to go to Western Market with Fourth Aunt to buy authentically unbleached-looking linen to make outfit for Larry – it is Ancient Egyptian week at school this week. To Stanley – bought girls and myself swimsuits, although only four weeks left before we can kiss goodby to swimming outdoors. Had New Worlders round for lunch yesterday, so LSS had spent much of the previous 24 hours cooking. Luckily they are not Americans so not averse to a bit of the sauce. Between the five of us we drank five bottles. No wonder I was so tired.

I still have a hole in my leg. The kids and I think it is getting better. LSS disagrees.

Went to British Consulate today to apply for visa as Returning Resident. Gave them letter from work showing that I have worked for them since 1994, have been on secondment since 1999, and am now returning to the UK to continue working for them. Also gave them marriage certificate demonstrating I’m married to a British citizen and passport copies demonstrating that I am the mother of British citizens. Also gave them leasehold of our London flat.

Is there anything else you can give us to demonstrate your intention to settle in the UK, she asks.

Like what, I say.

Anything, she says.

Ooh, that’s helpful. Anything.

What?! What could that be? If being married to a Brit, the mother of Brits, owning a London flat and working for a British company for the past 13 years and with every intention of working for them for the next xxx years, so that I can cash in on my defined benefit pension, is not enough, what will convince them?

I am now going to give them copies of my UK degree certificate, my UK accounting qualification, my UK driving licence and my UK bank statements. Stupid arses. How I hate people who work in consulates.

01 June, 2007

Things to Do

No posting recently – don’t know why. I feel simultaneously under-stimulated and inundated. Found out I have to go to the British Consulate to get a visa for what they call “Returning Residents”. I have to bring along a host of crap to show that I still have ties to the UK. I would have thought being married to a British citizen and the mother of British citizens would have been sufficient. Also have to bring along recent bank statements, which is a shame, as I don’t even open my bank statements, just leave them scattered all over the house.

The oozing lump on my leg has subsided (without benefit of antibiotics), but now there is a hole there filled with a strange whitish substance that you can poke but which resists extraction. What can it be? Maybe I should go to the doctor again to find out, but I am afraid he will tell me off for not taking my antibiotics.

Have a new laptop. It is a Thinkpad with something that LSS calls a “dual core processor”. Now I have to transfer all my stuff to it from my work computer. What a pain. This is why I feel inundated. I am inundated with boring crap that I do not want to do.

Fourth Aunt is in town. Lunch on Sunday with a selection of New Worlders. Lots of packing and sorting out to do. All I really want to do is watch 24 and write my novel. There’s a very nice outfit in the window of MaxMara. Should I get it? I need to upgrade my work look.