Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Scared of England

No, really, I am. Especially, I'm scared of these.

The border officer.
Do you know, life in Hong Kong isn't filled with polite people who hold open doors for each other, smile in greeting, offer assistance, or say gentle words in social support? If someone smiles at you in Hong Kong, it's usually because they want your money.

Once - no, it was 16 January 8pm - a European gentleman held open a door for me in the IFC shopping mall. I could've kissed him.

I want England to be polite. I want people to say After you, How do you do, Please and Thank you. I want my first introduction to England to be warm and happy.

Like the border officer. I want them to be kind. They don't have to blow up balloons and wave banners or anything. Just smile, mean it, and maybe say Welcome Home.

Have they changed the money?
Yes, it has happened to me before. You leave the country for five minutes and the Bank of England does something, like whips off Elizabeth Fry's head and shoves up Emily Pankhurst.

It leads me into a social minefield. For the first few days I stand in shop queues, holding everyone up, scrutinising the money in my palm, looking like Scrooge counting out ha'pennies. If I get it wrong, the shop assistant is calling the security guard. I am clearly trying to pass counterfeit coins and dodgy notes.

England, please don't change the money and not tell me.

The tax office.
I would dearly like to avoid our liabilities, I really would.

We won't be able to, of course not. We are not skillful enough in finance. Neither is the accountant who deals with the multiple income streams. He isn't brilliant enough either to be a criminal mastermind. He merely sinks his head to his hands when he sees the plastic bags bursting with paperwork, then charges us another thousand pounds to sort it all out.

So I would just like the tax office to alleviate my fears of the worst, and be nice.

Dear Grit and Dig, nice to have you home. Don't worry about the tax demands in the hall until you're unpacked. We can come to some agreement over a bottle of wine!

(Ditto for corporation tax, companies house, people at the late filing penalties admin desk.)

The judgements, the judgements.
You can do nothing in England without someone making a silent social judgement about you on some level. Fear of negative judgement makes people afraid to be different, but they resent being the same.

Well, I must be brutally honest.

What with the hair, the kids, the lifestyle, the strange choice of foodstuffs, the talents to swig from a bottle and swing a punch while wearing a frock, I'm never fitting easily into a social niche (unless maybe it's eccentric).

But I make it worse, the way I walk about your High Street with my do I give a toss attitude, spouting the stuff that comes out of this mouth that I was born into. (Isn't that why people leave England in the first place? Because they feel like they don't fit? Thanks, Ed Balls and your version of the Labour Party.)

Even so, please England, be tolerant of me and mine.

The advertising.
This always scares me. I don't want to see images of semi-naked women selling stuff. We do not see a lot of this technique in public spaces in Hong Kong, unless it's a Western style campaign.

It makes me miserable that England so easily presents sexualised representations of women and girls; I'm genuinely saddened that the media spews out a diet of celebrity doings.

That's not going to change, is it? I'd better tackle my fears and introduce my girls to the pleasures of the spray can.

The local council. Especially the people sitting at the education desk.
Ah, yes, officialdom!

How I miss the jobsworthies, criminalising my every move! It is an irony to me that I feel freer in Hong Kong, being blatantly illegal, than coming to the radar of England, where I am legal but not wanted.

Have you a new person, a new broom, sweeping clean? Have you paperwork you would like to patronise me with?

The abusive relationship with the house.
What have you got in store for me this time, you bastard? Last time you flooded the cellar, took the plaster off in the bathroom, and let the mice live in your underwear.

You don't know how much I adore you. And this is how you treat me.

God, I love your wooden floors. Let me clean them for you.

The wardrobe.
Have you been harbouring those moths? Have you? I tried so hard to eliminate them from Planet Grit. Is Betty Jackson sitting in there, all chewed up? Even thinking about opening your doors is bringing me out in a sweat.

Bum. Now I think about this, what of the heartless Tory government, the Jubilee year, the dishwasher, the car, the exterior paintwork, the endless duties, obligations and responsibilities? And the man with the chainsaw. He wanted paying in December.

This is the stuff of nightmares, isn't it?

England, help me out. Can you folks just wave a cheery hello, show me your rolling green fields, and remind me why I'm coming home?


Dave H said...

Just wait until you're back and all will seem right. Even if it is also simultaneously annoying and tantrum-inducing.

Ruth said...

Can't say I blame you feeling a bit iffy. I hate the place to be honest and if I got the chance again would never come back. Just don't watch the news and you maybe O.K xx

Potty Mummy said...

So is that it - are you back for good now?

MadameSmokinGun said...

Cooooome baaaaaack and rant some more!

Grit said...

you are right, dave. it will all make horrible sense within minutes.

yes, the news! i do sometimes avoid it as a way of staying sane. the problem is, i love england, i do. the cold fields, the depressing drizzle, the grumbling language. but the people can be charming and quirky. i don't want the quirk and charm to go... will they go?

that sounds very final, pm. but i don't do final. i do 6-month horizon. so we are in england for at least 4 of them.

see you at hesfes mme sg?