The day had started OK. After a patchy night’s sleep I got a few decent hours in listening to the rain thundering down outside – and occasionally inside onto a towel I had positioned in the hallway under the aircon vent, where the leak comes in.
Husband away, I was not sure what time he would be back this afternoon, but knew for sure it should be before me, so I decided to take the dogs on a longer walk this morning before going into work.
That would have been fine, except that the tree outside my bedroom window has bushed out recently and is blocking the sky. By the time I realised I should be up because it was light, I was already running late. I got the dogs out and back and then tried as best I could to be as less late as possible.
I know ‘as less late’ is not a phrase, just as ‘bushed out’ isn’t, but I am a bit traumatized, OK? Or rather I was.
Due to a rearrangement of desks, I was expecting that today would be quieter as a team that discusses cases on-the-go had moved away to sit with another team of people that need to discuss stuff all day, every day. Today was going to be quiet and I could tear through the work I had in no time.
No I couldn’t. I had reckoned without the long weekend and the slow slide into Tuesday that happens as a result, as people swap tales of movies watched, places visited and family members engaged in hilarious and/or annoying antics.
Over lunch, I noticed that it was the last day to register as a voter in the up and coming UK referendum on Brexit (whether or not the UK should leave Europe). To be honest, I feel I have no right to vote as I do not live in the UK and it feels a bit rude casting my voice into a decision that will have little or no direct effect on me; at least not unless I decide to go back. Nevertheless, having chanced across the Gov.uk site recently when checking out how to renew my passport, I thought I might just check to see if I could vote. You know, in theory.
I filled out the information on the online form and was presented with a message:
‘Sorry,’ it said in friendly, bold typeface, ‘but you are not eligible to vote because you have not lived in the UK for over 15 years.’
It was an automatically generated message, created as the result of an algorithm on a website – or a conditional clause, or whatever. It was polite. It was written in friendly typeface and yet I was left feeling utterly rejected by my mother country – and also responsible for letting her down too.
I also felt old. Could it really be over 15 year since I was last in the UK? It did not feel that long – but time does seem to travel faster as you get older.
I tweeted a screen grab of the message with a mournful comment and instantly heard from both a friend I have made since arriving here, and a friend I had in the UK – which seemed appropriate, given the circumstances.
I got home and my husband was back from work, tired and made even more tired by the news that his day off tomorrow had been cancelled as he was needed to cover another shift.
I told him the story. ‘Can you believe it?’ I said.
‘No,’ he replied, ‘because we got here in 2004. That is only twelve years ago.’
He is right, you know.