Friday, January 06, 2006

Middlesex Home Companion

It's been a quiet week in Lake Woebegone, oops Brentford, a mere stone's hurl from the M4. The quietness is partly due to a minor earache that has followed me from the continent, and a sinus-full of acoustic deadener, which followed me from the last week of 2005.

I tried to visit an NHS clinic this morning to have my ear checked out, but was repeatedly spurned as the local clinics said I was either not in their catchment area or were not taking temporary registrations. Neither had busy waiting rooms... Since it appeared I'd either have to drive outside London's paperwork zone, or risk a distant hospital's walk-in centre, I decided to opt for a private clinic, a short walk away. It turns out that an accumulation of cash in my wallet was impeding my hearing, so they removed that and sent me on my way.

Being in the Ealing area, and being that post-Xmas sales are on, I picked up a set of the major Ealing Studios very cheaply on DVD, since any viewing I'd had of them must be at least 30 years ago. I've got a couple of interesting theatre visits planned over the next week or so. I'll say nothing about them now except to say I'm looking forward to my first panto!

I got another strange email from the French consulate, saying "If you are not student in the uk, you cannot apply for a student visa. " I don't know why they require Australians who want to study in France to be a UK student as well. They also re-supplied their unmanned telephone number for any questions. Since I'm currently midway through Umbert Eco's Mouse or Rat? Translation as Negotation, I'm wondering if they managed to completely strip my initial request of any semantic content by retranslating it from English->French->English->French a few dozen times. I'm sure in the next round, I'll be asked to reinstall my language subsystem and reboot.

My Parisian language school reports that finding long term parking is very easy, so I can now concentrate on simply finding a regular apartment for our 2* month stay. I think I've found a decent one in the 10th arondissement, that's reasonably handy to school and a transport hub. Sadly the Paris Metro is not dog-friendly like the London Underground, so Bondi will be adventuring on foot only.

*Since I don't have a longstay visa for France, I don't want to use up the 3 visa-free months in one go, as it would prevent me from visiting anywhere else in western continental Europe until August. So I had to tell the school that their government bureaucracy has successfully reduced their potential income.

I've been doing some more family-tree digging, and am trying to confirm a set of possible distant cousins in Victoria/Tasmania who share the same Scottish ancestry 200 years ago. I'm also hoping to get back to North Wales later this month to visit the reopened family records section at the Dolgellau local government offices.

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