Aug

5

By nightowl

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Categories: The Grauniad strikes again

The sob story that never was

The Guardian is like the Terminator, it absolutely will not stop.

Here’s yet another immigrant’s tale of woe for your entertainment.

Five years previously, when I had entered the UK on a Writers, Artists and Composers visa I thought the road to settlement, and then citizenship, was flat and paved. As long as I could maintain myself financially, continued to work as a writer, and didn’t break any laws, I’d be eligible for ILR in five years, and citizenship a year later. And then there would be a citizenship ceremony to end it all, which seemed a pleasant enough idea.

So far so good, although I did raise an eyebrow at “which seemed a pleasant enough idea.” A rather curious choice of words to talk about acquiring citizenship, isn’t it? It almost sounds as if she isn’t really taking the concept seriously.

Fancy that.

But I wasn’t prepared for the mutable nature of immigration laws, and their ability to make migrants feel perpetually insecure, particularly as the rhetoric around migration mounted.

Weren’t you? Don’t you read the Guardian then?

“I didn’t think that would affect someone like you,” a large number of Brits said to me over the years, with the implacable British belief that if you’re middle class you exist under a separate set of laws. They weren’t entirely wrong – the more privileged you are in terms of income and education the more likely it is you’ll be able to clear all hurdles. It’s only the rich around whose convenience immigration laws are tailored.

And you’re what, shocked and disappointed? Of course a rich, educated immigrant will always be preferable to a poor, illiterate one! You need the skills, tools and social graces that money and education can give you in order to function in a First World country or else you’re wasting everybody’s time, including your own.

Seriously, show me one country in the world which is run as a charity and only takes in waifs and strays. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Soon after my arrival, I had heard of an overhaul of migration laws which would bring in a new “points based” immigration system; but the migration lawyer I spoke to said there was no way that the Writers, Artists and Composers visa could be brought within that system, since there was no way to actually measure “cultural value”. Speaking in a manner that suggested deep insider knowledge, the lawyer said that the migration route I had entered on would remain unchanged. I had enough faith in his polished assurance that I paid little attention when the new points based system was announced.

I’m afraid that lawyer had zero clue about it (how could they?) and therefore told you exactly what you needed to hear – and you believed them because you wanted to. You can’t exactly blame the government for this.

Several months later, near the time when I had to renew my writer’s visa, I went to the UKBA website and discovered my visa category had simply been abolished. I would either have to find some other category for which I was eligible, or leave the country.

I’m flabbergasted. The random lawyer was wrong after all! Say it ain’t so!

Even in all my huge relief, I registered a sense of disappointment at having been transferred from Writers, Artists and Composers to the category Tier 1 (General).

Yes, now you’re just an ordinary member of the public like the rest of us, instead of being an Artiste™. It must burn. It’s almost not worth applying for that pleb visa… oh wait.

Wanna bet this person is a fierce critic of ‘elitism’ the rest of the time?

I never really felt safe after that. Every announcement of proposed changes to migration laws made my heart stutter, every politician’s announcement about slashing migration numbers felt like a threat.

Look, at the end of the day, you have no god-given right to live in London for the rest of your life just because you want to. Half the flipping planet wants to!

You’re not exactly stuffed to the gills with skills the UK desperately needs either. Writers are two a penny. Retrain as a orthopaedic surgeon and we’ll talk.

And so, five years down the line, I was able to apply for ILR – though first I had to take the Life in the UK test, which continues to be mistakenly referred to as a Citizenship Test. At this juncture I received a tremendous outpouring of sympathy from my British friends. “It’s ridiculous,” they said. “Why should you have to learn about the kings and queens of England in order to stay?”

She keeps quoting these mysterious “British friends” who sound too stupid to be allowed. Are they even real?

In fact, the test teaches you little about kings and queens and is full of information about employment rights, schooling, the history of gender equality laws and other rather useful things (though the Tories want to add the kings-and-queens stuff, which will render it absurd.)

No more absurd than the history of gender equality laws. If you don’t know the past, you can’t understand the present.

This kind of knowledge will also allow you not to make a twat of yourself when playing Trivial Pursuit with locals (not your imaginary British friends though, they don’t sound the type).

I had thought dual citizenship would feel like a gain, not a loss. Instead, as I took my seat in the chamber I found myself reflecting on what it means to be from a country in which acquiring a second passport is regarded across the board as reason for celebration. Weeks later, I was trying to explain this to British-Libyan writer, Hisham Matar, who knew exactly what I meant. “In that moment you are betrayed and betrayer both,” he said. “You’re betraying your country by seeking another passport, and you’re betrayed by your country which makes you want to seek another passport”

So many insecurities and chips on both shoulders. Oh dear.

And she’s only got two countries to deal with. How does she think Jason Bourne feels?

What dissipated the feeling of melancholy was a glance toward one end of the council chamber. There was a picture of the Queen in her tiara, set against a large union jack. I might have laughed out loud. It seemed so American: the smiling portrait, all those flags. And then someone pressed “play” on a CD player and classical music filled the room. I want to say it was The Ride of the Valkyries but this seems so over the top that it must be a novelist’s imagination rather than memory. Mustn’t it? All I know is I kept looking across the room at my sister and giggling.

Well, I called it, didn’t I? Getting British citzenship is just a big joke to her, all that matters is that she gets to stay in London.

we all sang – or moved our lips meaninglessly in time to – the national anthem

Oh FFS. Just tear up her certificate and send her back to Pakistan. What a waste of space.

However high my levels of anxiety might have felt along the way, I always knew I had the luxury of another home to return to, as well as a livelihood which wasn’t contingent on being in one place rather than another.

How interesting. What was all that guff about feeling ‘unsafe’ then? Check your privilege, you silly moo!

We had all been given envelopes for our certificates, and when I opened mine out popped Theresa May. Or at least a letter of welcome from her, with her photograph at the top of the page. Just a few weeks earlier, May had sent her “Go Home” vans across the UK, so this hardly inspired a feeling of belonging.

ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION.

LEGAL IMMIGRATION.

TWO DIFFERENT THINGS.

is it even necessary to add that the irony here that the resources of the state, as embodied by institutions such as the NHS, would probably collapse without migrants?

But you’re not one of them, are you?

Also: hooray! The legendary “the NHS relies on immigrants” trope makes an appearance! We have a full house!

The first thing I did on returning home was download and fill out a passport application form. Wanting to stay was my primary reason for acquiring citizenship, but the added benefit of a passport that allowed me to travel without the visa nightmares that come attached to a Pakistani passport was also a strong motivating factor.

This says it all. What a worthy addition to the UK this person is. Not.

I filled out the form, took it to the post office, and handed it across the counter to a bearded man with the name tag Khaled.

Khaled, huh? Just like back home!

“First passport?” he asked.

“Yes.”

Khaled looked gravely at me.

“Welcome,” he said, and everything uncomplicated and moving I had wanted to feel in that citizenship ceremony, I felt then.

Oh, now you feel like you belong in the UK. Because Khaled said so. Right.

Jul

21

By nightowl

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Categories: The Grauniad strikes again

This puts the dim in dim sum

Chinatown is in trouble because the horrible Home Office is arresting all the illegal immigrants working in restaurants

WTF Guardian? Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t human trafficking A Bad Thing? Don’t you campaign against it on a regular basis?

Or is it only OK when it means Londoners are not deprived of their beloved Chinese food on a Saturday night? Never mind the exploited, overworked, underpaid, illegal Chinese sods in the kitchen, huh? Nothing else matters so long as we get to enjoy our duck shredded in a pancake, soaking in the hoisin of your lies!

So wrong yet so tasty

Jul

13

By nightowl

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Categories: The DM Strikes Again

One little word makes all the difference

Newsflash: according to the Daily Mail, Serena Williams is a zombie.

No, really – I did a screen capture in case they correct their headline:

Oh, she nearly died then. I did think it might be a bit tricky to play tennis after you’re dead, but what do I know?

Jul

6

By nightowl

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Categories: Miscellaneous

When is cultural appropriation not cultural appropriation?

When nobody involved is white, that’s when.

First we had this ridiculous story: White star pulls out of West Side Story concert following race row

A white actress playing Maria, a Puerto Rican, is apparently unacceptable. She was told “This is not your story to tell” by some SJW on Twitter (why people care so much about Twitter is beyond me). The massive guilt trip has caused her to resign and make an apologetic statement about being “miscast”.

She played the same part three years ago and nobody batted an eyelid!

Meanwhile, it has recently been announced that Beverley Knight will play Emmeline Pankhurst in the West End.

Outrage? No. Twitter shitstorm? Nope. Not her story to tell? You must be joking, black women are always relevant.

And then we have a Dutch-Korean actress playing a Thai woman in The King And I. Still not a peep. By the way, the king of Siam himself is played by a Japanese actor! And said Dutch-Korean actress played Fantine (a white 19th century Frenchwoman) in Les Misérables in 2014. Somehow, by an absolute miracle, that was totally her story to tell. Huh.

Jul

1

By nightowl

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Categories: WTF

Male Ego 101

Welcome to the University of Adelaide, where we teach our male students to mansplain like a boss and our female students to listen respectfully like the lesser beings they are.

It could be worse: in the US the girls would have been urged to smile as well.

Mar

31

By nightowl

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Harry Potter and the Transphobic Tweet

JK Rowling finally loses her impeccable PC credentials

This is hilarious. These people can turn on each other faster than sharks! And of course rent-a-gob Jack “non-binary” Monroe just had to get involved.

I bet Rowling just saw the feminist message and automatically ‘liked’ the post without reading it too carefully. What’s even funnier it that everyone is attacking her as if she had written the whole thing, not just retweeted it. I don’t suppose a pack of hyenas can read too well either.

Men in dresses indeed.

A spokesman for Ms Rowling said she had ‘liked’ the tweet by accident, telling The Mail on Sunday: ‘It was a mistake. I’m afraid J.K. Rowling had a clumsy middle-aged moment.

‘This is not the first time she has favourited [a post] by holding her phone incorrectly.’

Oh, this is lame. I knew she was quite the coward as well as a hypocrite but this is truly lame. When you are the kind of person who loves attacking in an extremely self-righteous and vitriolic way anyone who disagrees with you, you really should be able to cope with being on the receiving end instead of hiding behind your minions. The next time Rowling has a go at Donald Trump for tweeting something stupid and/or offensive, I hope someone reminds her of this little incident.

In the furore, the message of the tweet – that trans rights matter more than womens’s rights – has been totally forgotten, thus beautifully proving the point of the original poster.

Feb

23

By nightowl

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Categories: Miscellaneous

In the UK, customer service is… different

Class shaming on Virgin Trains

That’s one hell of a manager. I’ve always thought people in the service industry would find it so much easier to do their work if only the general public didn’t exist.

This story reminds me of the time I was told off by a Post Office employee for attempting to post a large parcel after 4.30pm (closing time is 5.30pm, I was there around 5). He explained that the van collects all parcels at 4.30pm and any parcel that arrives after this time is left lying on the office floor until the next day, which inconveniences the staff. His tone made it very clear that I was really making his day worse by adding to the pile, even though I had no way under the sun to know this kind of information. It’s not like there were posters on the wall or anything.

I was seriously taken aback by this unprovoked attack but, unlike the average Brit, did not actually apologise for being such a thoughtless paying customer. Even after 24 years in this country, I have my limits.

Feb

1

By nightowl

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Categories: Miscellaneous

French Banks vs. The World

I am trying to get my French bank to update my address in my online profile.

I sent them a bill as proof of address:

(name, house number and street name obscured for privacy)

They did make the change, in a manner of speaking:

(name obscured for privacy)

As you can see, they left out the house number, street name and postcode. Plus a misspelling in the town name. Who cares whether I receive their letters or not? Serves me right for living abroad in the first place!

The French antipathy for anything English is not a myth… they can be seriously passive-aggressive about it too.

Incidentally, this is the same bank that did not allow me to make a deposit (not a withdrawal) from a random branch in Normandy a couple of years ago, because my branch is in Picardy. Apparently this bank, despite having a national presence, is run on a strictly regional basis.

I did tell the employee: “Are you aware this is the 21st century?” and got a superb Gallic shrug in return.

And people wonder why I would rather die than go back.

Update 22.02.2018: Since posting this, I have emailed them twice. No reply whatsoever. Stay classy, Caisse D’Epargne.

Jan

15

By nightowl

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Categories: WTF

What in the name of fuck?

Some years ago, a female orangutan was rescued from a Borneo prostitute village (sic) where she was being used as a novelty sex slave.

AN ORANGUTAN SEX SLAVE.

The worst thing is, the villagers probably captured another baby female to replace her as soon as the rescuers left. Let’s not even talk about the fact that ‘prostitute villages’ even exist or that men would pay to have sex with a shaved orangutan.

Meanwhile, everyone’s up in arms because Donald Trump said something about shithole countries… well, even a stopped clock is right twice a day, isn’t it?

Jan

9

By nightowl

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Categories: The DM Strikes Again

Am I asking for the moon on a stick?

Jennifer Lawrence does something silly for attention. OK, must be Tuesday.

The DM then feels the need to refer to the Oscar-winning Lawrence – one of the highest-paid actresses in the world – as “the 27-year-old starlet”.

From the Collins dictionary:

A starlet is a young actress who is expected to become a film star in the future.

What the hell does it take?

This one just graduated to “serious actress”. Keep up the good work!