Red Tape vs.White Wine

Here in Spain there is plenty of red tape. You virtually have to supply your national identity number to use a public toilet. However I have to say it’s a kind of soft silky red tape. Rules can be bent; if they like you they can almost be disregarded altogether on occasions. Over the last 7 years I have got used to this. So when I had to help my newly enrolled son sort out his finance for University the UK version of red tape came as a bit of a shock. There is nothing soft and silky going on there; it would prove a challenge for the most committed 50 Shades enthusiast. In fact I started to feel I could have taken the lead in a porno bondage movie by the time I left such was my experience with being bound up.

It’s a set up

I had three days on UK soil in which to bid him farewell and sort out with him all the essentials for his life there. A mobile had to be bought, bank account opened, winter clothes purchased, Pot Noodles and baked beans stocked up on and the nearest pub located. The pub as it turned out, being for me, not him, once I’d finished with the bureaucracy in that goddamn place. I did consider taking over the license at one point I’d used it so often. My next book is due out soon. “Pubs of Huddersfield, an intensive users guide”
We had been told months before that we had to supply our tax returns in order to assess what he may be entitled to. Would that be ok as they were in Spanish I’d asked? Yes I was assured. Three days before we left we were informed that actually we needed an official translation done at the cost of about 300 Euros for each of the twenty pages. I spat out my tapas in disbelief and demanded to speak to a manager. Eventually they agreed I could use a short summary and translate it myself. So off we went.

Destination Tethers End

Once there I spent each of the three nights pouring over Spanish fiscal translation sites whilst simultaneously pouring expensive English bought wine into a B&B plastic tooth mug. Class. Another 50 hours on the telephone later and still nothing resolved. Each operative it seemed had their own unique version of the rules. They had now decided they were once again moving the goalposts and wanted an NI number he didn’t have. By this point it would have been cheaper to fund the lad myself. Time to call in the big guns. I called the local MP who took up the case. I then called to ask could they register that he may call and that they had my permission to speak to him about my finances. She took his name. Then she asked “What is his date of birth. We can’t make a note without it?” Whaaaattttt???? , came my strangled reply. “How in the hell do I know, he’s an MP not my bloody brother? Do you know David Cameron’s date of birth?” I asked, incredulous. Ok, out came Google while I stalled her. Sure enough, good old Wikipedia, there it was. I duly supplied the information “And would you like to know the name of his wife and children?” I asked for good measure. I think by this point she was sensing a little hostility from my side. Anyway we finished up the conversation with me still choking on my Chablis at which point I’m sorry but I couldn’t resist. “Well thank you I said and for my records could I take your name?” She gave it to me. “And your date of birth?”I asked pleasantly. ”Er no I can’t give you that “she laughed nervously, “You have mine, my husbands, my son’s and not’s let forget my MP’s now too. So why not?” I enquired. She wouldn’t be swayed so I bade her farewell and hurled the phone at the wall.

A not so fond farewell

By the time it came to my snot and tear soaked farewell to my boy (my snot and tears I might add not his) I realised how badly they had screwed up our last few days together. The nearest we had got to spending any quality time together was about two minutes in the queue at Tesco’s discussing the phenomenally high UK alcohol prices.
By the time my friend picked me up from the train station accompanied by yet another bottle of overpriced plonk I was in such a state I actually tried to get in the driver’s side of her car. Given that I’ve never actually learned to drive and was a whole laundries worth of sheets to the wind it’s a good thing that was only because I’m used to left hand drives now.
Having been forced to take up recreational alcoholism for three days at my wits end I now fully understand the binge drinking culture in the UK. It must be populated by ex students and the parents thereof and anyone else who has to deal with UK civil servants. Alcoholics anonymous must be overrun. Then again they probably want your date of birth before you can join and by that point you’re probably so stressed and pissed you have no idea what it is.
Reasons number 348- 350 why I’m so glad to be out of there!! Viva Espana and its soft silky red tape.

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3 Responses to Red Tape vs.White Wine

  1. Roger/Rogelio says:

    My tale of red-tape woes triggered by your’s…………………….
    In a state of post-divorce trauma I decide to get lost in family geneological research once more, having squeezed 3 book publications out of the previous results, so i went after a x 3 grandfather who owned a merchant ship, but left it abandoned in Hong kong whilst being posted as missing on a teak purchasing trip to Nanning near to the Vietnamese border.
    I contacted a charming lady at the university library there who decided to send me her photo and being in a vulnerable state I fell in love with the photo and telephone calls followed until she proclaimed the same feelings and invited me to come to holiday in her apartment and if all went well, be married in the Buddhist temple there. Prior to leaving I thought it wise to check if my possible bride would become a U.K. & E.U. citizen were we wed in China. Naturally the consulate here knew nowt, but refferal adresses in London and points north. Twenty calls later it appeared that it was necessary to come to London, establish an abode there for two months and be re-married in a Reg. office specializing in overseas brides, such as kensington, all this to prove she was not a bride of convenience paying me to get her into the U.K., where I had not lived for 30+ years and was not going to live anyway. Spain was more helpful, but would not have issued a work permit for her. A miracle then occured, the European court of human rights declared that such tests for overseas brides were against human dignity and the brits. had to abolish their rules and inquisitional regs. concerning the matter.
    On the research front grandpa’s grave had been found in the Christian cemetry by Gentle breeze, as her name translated. I rushed to reply with my own good news and to buy plane tickets.
    At this point she told me she must confess “a little something”. Not so little, all was true about her doctorate and position at the university, it was just that the photo was of her dressed as a woman but she was in fact A MAN !! I had battled British beaurocracy for three months and started Mandarin lessons, even though ‘her’ English was near perfect, only to find out that I had been corresponding with a charming and beautiful transvestite.
    Does my tale of woe make your own batle to prove tax payment seem easier to bear, Heather ?
    P.S. It now is a laughing matter, but at the time………well imagine !!!

  2. admin says:

    OMFG Rogelio…ok you got me, not a lot can top that. You may laugh now but that sounds like a bloody nightmare. Actually how can you manage to laugh even now ? You must have been heartbroken/furious/embarrassed and everything else under the sun. You’re one hell of a guy to take that on the chin even if it took a few years. You should write your own blog ! xx

  3. Sunshine says:

    wow! Thats shocking Rogelio! The least he/she could have done is be honest with you about their original gender! Well done for moving on from that it must have been a nightmare!

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