At 11 a.m. sharp I logged on to the U.S. Air website and checked in and printed out my boarding passes. I also splurged and booked a 'choice' seat -- I really should try and discover why it is considered 'choice'. I have this great hope that it means I will have a bit more leg room. I've also decided to take my laptop, which is a bit heavy, but it is something to occupy my time when Mom is napping or watching 'her programs'. Her programs in particular are 'Jeopardy' and 'Wheel of Fortune'! I can not believe how long these shows have been on the air in America. With the same hosts. We are talking decades here...
The downside of going to America this year is that it's a Presidential election year. People outside of the United States can not appreciate how dreadful the onslaught is. The ad campaigns have already begun even before one of the candidates has been officially decided. The UK has a very good way of dealing with major elections. First of all no one can be quite sure when the next one will be -- though the present government has promised 5 years, which is the maximum period a government can sit. But what I like the most is the way Party Political Broadcasts work on television. Usually, it's at the evening news is cut short by 5 minutes. Maybe the next night it will be on behalf of another party.
While political advertising is banned, the Communications Act does require Channels 3, 4 and 5, and national analogue radio stations, to give airtime to political parties in the form of Party Political and Party Election Broadcasts. Under Ofcom rules, airtime is allocated to the major parties in each of the UK nations, and to other parties according to factors including how many seats they are contesting. The BBC carries PPBs and PEBs on a similar basis. Broadcasts are also awarded to ‘yes’ and ‘no’ organisations at the time of referendums.And even if you turn the television off in the States, there is no respite. No siree Bob! As you try to prepare dinner and while you are trying to eat, the telephone starts to ring! And if you are silly enough to answer, it's not even a person on the other end of the line -- it's a recording and it's not a short recording either ... I was actually living in the States for the year 2008 -- it was horrendous. Oh, well, it's only April, I expect it will be bad, but not dire...
Finally, The Man has earned himself at least 5 gold stars on my behalf! As you know, I've been writing a series of blogs of the events leading up to my decision to become a UK citizen. One of the stumbling blocks for me has been the 'qualifying time'. My research on the Home Office website showed that even though I had lived in the UK for most of the last 30 years, I did not meet the requirements regarding the last three years.
The first rule is that on the date that the Home Office receives my application I must have been in the UK on that date 3 years before. In addition, during that 3 year period I cannot have been out of the country for more than 270 days. In addition, during the year immediately preceding my application I must not have been out of the country more than 90 days. These requirements have been problematic for me because of being in France for the summer and trips to the United States to see my mother. I even wrote to the Home Office explaining my situation, but the letter I got back indicated that there were no exceptions.
The Man, however, was not satisfied with this. And without saying anything he went to the website and found 'Exceptions'! So it would seem that the fact that I 'have established my home, family and a substantial of my estate here' will allow a great enough relaxation of the qualifying period for me to be able to make my application probably in October! And go to France for a longer than expected period this summer (the icing on the cake!)
More from Stateside!