Having dutifully filled in my twenty pedantic screens (skirting around various broken links including the final submit button grrr), I finally completed and sent off my application to beg the DVLA to replace my stolen driving licence. They, bless their little alien hearts, sent me by return another form which says, I quote:-
Thank you for using our online driving licence service. Before we can issue your driving licence you must sign and date this form to declare your driving licence is lost, stolen or destroyed.
Return this form and your cut up licence using the envelope provided.
Question is what are they going to do to me if I don’t cut up and return the licence that I don’t have because if I did have it I wouldn’t be trying to apply for a new licence? (We are the Borg. You will be assimilated…)
And then the next day they sent me yet another blank form to apply for a replacement driving licence, which as far as I can ascertain is exactly the same form as the form I already filled in which started all the trouble in the first place. If I fill in the second one will that just generate even more confusion, or if I pretend I never received it, will that stall my application forever?
Meanwhile on a different planet, and skipping over the slight irony that our local cinema was closed owing to the town centre being flooded, I am struggling to understand the polemics surrounding the Noah film. Apart from being truly dull and boring as a piece of cinema, it is also such a long way from the Biblical account that I just can’t see what there would be to get excited about on either side. It is a fantasy film about a bunch of characters, some of whom have the same names as some other guys in the Bible. So what? If the makers of Star Trek had happened to call a pair of aliens Troilus and Cressida I’d like to imagine that most Shakespearean critics would have better things to do with their time than to bother hunting for a biro.
I managed to clock up my fourth appearance on local TV on Friday evening. To an English person who has never worked in media, that sounds relatively impressive. In reality, city TV is more like the equivalent of what would be the local rag in the UK. I remember on the first day we arrived in San Francisco, the midday news bulletin was leading with a story about a dog that got run over and didn’t die, which even in small-town Baldock would be unlikely to make it into print unless it was a very special dog (“Her Majesty’s Corgi slips lead in Avenue Park…”). All of which probably explains the Canal 4 presenter’s fascination with my foreignness. No matter who I’ve been representing; Scouts, disability summer scheme, church-planting projects… every interview features my Englishness and my blonde kids, leaving it to me to gesticulate at my colleagues and steer the conversation round to the theme of the day. This time we were supposed to be publicising a church kids’ club, so she talked about my foreignness, and recalled the other times when she had interviewed me, and my foreignness, and the autism workshop which was the previous appearance back in December, and my foreignness, and how the 2nd of April was…. (2nd of April being Malvinas/Falklands memorial day) and I held my breath and prayed no no no please don’t do this to me on air, but no, the 2nd of April (apart from being my late father’s birthday but she didn’t mention that either) is apparently also international autism day. Phew.
If there was any danger of such fame going to my head, the DVLA can always be relied on to bring one back down to earth, if only to wonder which other planet they employ their staff from. If I hadn’t had my driving licence stolen along with my rucksack last July, I would presumably still be entitled to hold my UK licence until 2041 when it runs out, or at least I can’t find anything to say that we should have surrendered them prior to travelling to Argentina. However, since I did have my driving licence stolen along with my rucksack last July, I figured I should probably apply for a new one in order to drive legally when we come across. So I tried to apply for one online, and on filling in twenty pedantic screens I thus discovered that unless I can give them a UK address where I am currently living then I cannot replace my stolen licence. We have been in Argentina long enough now to know that many pieces of bureaucracy just do include the unwritten requirement that you should first find a friend who likes you enough to lie for you, and that nobody will understand why you might have a problem about doing that. But until now this had always been something that I had fondly believed to be a clear example of the differences between our two cultures.