Down with the Trees!

Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.

Save the trees? Nice idea, but it could ultimately be a fuck up. We’re still living in the dark ages folks. Unless it’s down in ink on a piece of paper most information about you is about as useful as tits on a bull. Worse yet, that idealistic choice to “save the trees” could end up making your life difficult. Down with the trees I tell you!

UK Visas

When it comes to visas in the UK anything short of marriage virtually non-existent. There is entry of “unmarried
” but they make it hard to access, you need two years of documentation supporting your partnership consisting of multiple documents covering the whole period. Typical combinations being tenancy agreements, utility bills and bank statements. These generally must be addressed to both parties (and who ever thinks of that when they get the phone connected?) or can be to individuals but then you need even more documents.

So if you don’t have that vital stack of paper gathering dust in a filing cabinet then you’re quite stuffed. If you ring the consulate they all but tell you not to bother.

We will have enough documentation in a few months, but what then is the situation for us trying to apply for this when already in the UK? Does it indicate a breaking of the conditions on Kat’s Working Holiday visa? At best it is highly borderline, and not possible until I can switch to a settlement visa anyway (HSMP, about 9 months away). And while under the terms of my current visa I can switch to HSMP I don’t think Kat can switch to a dependant partner visa, her option is basically only HSMP. For HSMP she’d have to earn an income in the space of 12 months which is likely to be unrealistic, 12 months is the most time she can spend working under her visa and she can’t be here for the specific purpose of working (if we stretch things too far it could make the visa people unhappy, and then we’re stuffed no matter what we do). We will be going back to Australia in 10 months, so maybe on we can make new visa applications from Australia then (what on earth will our residency status be at that time?). It does seem that the Working Holiday visa was specifically designed with loopholes, so maybe the approach is less strict than it seems? I have heard otherwise.

Thus my previous musings regarding signing a piece of paper to make us “married” by law, but looking over things I’m not sure that that would make it easier anyway. I’m loath to take such drastic measures, I have no respect for the institutionalised concept of “marriage”; we have laws that make it nothing more than a game and the old religious relevance that it had is quickly fading (and not applicable to myself). I do wonder how long it will be before the dinosaurs that run the world will be dinosaurs who make the necessary changes, unless something drastic happens (religious right stages a successful military takeover of the planet), I think change toward my own way of thinking is inevitable. Of course, by then I’ll be one of the dinosaurs and we’ll collectively not understand why the youths of tomorrow aren’t happy with the new freedoms our generation has given society. What’s this with a gay partnership between a young man and a cerebrally enhanced goat needing to be recognised by the state? You’re absurd, absurd and perverted.

I digress.

UK Banks

This one is a better justified annoyance, you simply cannot open a bank account here until you have utility bills (not mobile phone) that show the UK address of all account holders. So you’ll typically be waiting a couple of weeks before a bank account can be opened. Once we had the right documentation opening an account was plain sailing (HSBC, we used Australian bank statements sent to both our names in the UK, the same for our previous address in Sydney and also Scottish Power bills addressed to both of us plus passports for Id).

UK utility bills, now that leads to another matter…


Speaking of Dark Ages, the utilities I’ve dealt with in this country have severely handicapped IT systems. Fancy having a very restrictive limit on the size of the name field in an address! Scottish Power have just this, while our Gas/Elec account is in both our names the correspondence is addressed only to me. When I asked about this they simply said: We just canne do eet captin!. Now if you were married then it’d all be fine, we could fit in “Y & K Seth”. Great, my electricity provider is telling me I should be married; asswipes. Their solution to their IT dilemma is a simple one, two copies of every piece of correspondence is sent to us, both addressed to me but one with content starting “Dear Mr Seth” and the other with appropriate text for Kat, this being the only difference between the two copies.

BT have it worse, they simply don’t support having a line registered in more than one name. My name only, or Kat’s name only and according to their support representative the phone book entry can only match the account holder name, we could get a second phone account though. What? Bloody retarded. I’ve complained about good old Telstra back in Australia before, but I must hand the UK the prize for utility dumbness.

So only one piece of paper from BT and it is not a lot of use for the Kat+Yvan equation and more useful data from Scottish Power, albeit in a retarded form that uses twice as many trees.

Chip and Pin

Here I abort the topic of the sad fact that we must kill more trees to further the machinery of bureaucracy.

Chip and Pin is more common here now, to the point where there are actually retailers who will only accept either it or case and shake their head at your old-skool sign-the-paper credit card. International travelers beware! Luckily supermarkets and servos have not been so stupid, just things like a few phone shops and electronics goods stores. I think it’ll be years before Australia moves onto universal Chip and Pin, and America can hardly be expected to catch up anytime this decade.

Now, in an ideal world they would have created an an interface that lets the shop upload a digital form of your receipt to the card. Why didn’t they do this? 10k of EEPROM should be loads for a typical week and you could have a reader at home to suck the data onto your computer, or freak out all the privacy nuts and have a RFID-style data-suck (encrypted of course, and our credit cards could be an “always on you” private key too!). This all means increasing the number of gates on the card of course and thus the cost to manufacture, although it wouldn’t surprise me if the silicon is already in there. There would also need to be sensibly thought out, in a typical case it’d be some proprietary garbage that will soon have the shit ripped out of it by Schnier and a week later be hacked by a bunch of bored youths.

On a slightly related note, banks still give you cheque books here in the UK and if you want to withdraw more than 300 quid you have to write out a personal cheque to yourself and visit a bank branch. Weird and very interesting how some things are so far ahead of Australia here yet other things are way behind.

Credit Cards

No chance. No credit history, no credit card. From outside the UK? You may as well have been born yesterday. HSBC will likely give us one in three months, Amex require us to wait six months (would have helped to have had an Amex in Australia). For now we’ll have to continue to use our Australian CCs quite a bit, and pay the associated charges. St. George must love us. Does the namesake for the bank have a tomb anywhere? I think I might go and piddle on it, not as something specifically against our bank (I actually like St. George) but more as a gesture toward the inanity of the systems we’ve built around our modern society; ostensibly with the express purpose of making everyday life more difficult and the machinations of evil harder to spot.

Hooray for humanity.

[…and hooray to me who just wasted an hour of his day and thus forced an extra hour in the office on himself, fool.]