London. Or not.

Long ago, FirstNations asked when we get to join Mr Husband in England, and the answer is um, never.

We asked around a lot, and despite our problems with the schools here, it looks like British schools would be worse. Some would be a lot worse, some would only be a little worse, some might even be a little better but those cost a hillion skillion pounds per year, and if you want to send your child to a state school instead of an expensive private one, you don’t get to choose which school he goes to, so you have no say in whether his school sucks big hairy donkey balls, or just little ones.

Also, half of Southern England was underwater this summer, and the not-yet-submerged part was freaking out about foot-and-mouth disease that escaped from a lab. Our friend Nigel says that the whole ethos in England is to do the absolute least you can get away with, and he’s always marvelling at how well-made and thoroughly-done everything is here. Case in point, England had some horrible flooding last summer, with several deaths. I read (can’t find the article to link to, drat it) an article in which an engineer mentioned that the Victorians had built an excellent sewage system in London, but it hadn’t been updated since, and if the Thames ever flooded, they’d really be up the creek, if you know what I mean. Here in OurTown, they’re disrupting traffic with this massive project to widen the river and raise the banks because we almost had a problem in last year’s floods. The existing system was enough, but only just. Nobody’s even died yet, and they seem to think that that’s when you fix the system, before lives are lost. What a concept.

On a more personal level, DrBob didn’t get paid yet for his first month of work. When he inquired, he was told that an “administrative error” had led to him not being paid, but don’t worry, it’ll be included in next month’s paycheck. We were completely broke. He had to go ask for an advance.

I think I mentioned that before he first went there in August, he shipped two boxes to his new address. The German shippers got them over there okay, but the English shippers… lost them. They found the boxes again, after he left, and delivered them to his work address, all beaten up, looking as if they’d been rolled down a rocky hill. He also had motorcycle trouble on that trip, and the garage he took the motorcycle to promised him they’d have it fixed by Tuesday, which they surely would have, except they ordered the wrong part. So last week, DrBob had to take the bike to a (different) garage to replace the battery. He could’ve done it himself, except that the August garage had (probably mislaid, possibly stolen) his toolkit.

And every time you mention this to an English person, they shrug and say “Yeah, well, these things happen.” No, they bloody don’t, not in Germany. We’ve had a few problems, in the last six years – probably about as many as he’s had in London in the past three months.

So. I love England, I love the movies and television and books and cream teas and cider and stuff cooked in ale and the accents and the countryside, I love my English friends, they’re so warm and kind and funny. I love, love, love being a tourist there. I thought I’d love to live there, and I might still, if it weren’t for the kids. But we’re finding out that it’s catastrophically expensive and nothing really works. So we’ve pretty much decided that DrBob will continue to commute. It’s very, very stressful for him, but I think moving us over there would be stressful for us all.


Song du jour of the day: From the Ritz to the Rubble, by the Arctic Monkeys.


One response to “London. Or not.

  • Melanie

    I sooo agree, except for this: not all English people shrug. An English friend of mine (who has travelled extensively in Asia, we met in Australia) was with me as I was getting the Royal Runaround trying to buy a simple bus ticket and she attempted to apologize on behalf of the whole coutry. She said she was so embarassed, bus travel is more organized in Thailand. I also did not enjoy the pairing of giving crap service and then being really mean to you about it if you notice the crap service.
    Sorry about the stress to DrBob, and your transition stress. Having done that half a life here and half there thing (on a much smaller scale), I can tell you it gets easier. For him, even things like having exact duplicates of shaver, toothbrush etc at both places will help, fewer packing catastrophes.

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