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.