Yes, here it is. My first post as an Aussie-Brit (sorry, I just can't get myself to say my nationality without sticking "aussie" in there first).
I've been insanely busy for the last week, which is not much of an excuse for my slackness with my blogging, but it has meant that this is the first time in 7 days I've managed to get time to sit down and write. This mostly has to do with my ruddy job. Stupid salary paying job. Expecting me to actually work for a living. Bastards.
The Citizenship ceremony:According to the website, the British citizenship ceremony is supposed to be something to mark the occasion of becoming British with a memorable event. This meant that we all had to get dressed up, go to the local town hall, and stand in front of which ever mayor (past or present) turned up, who came into the main room, all dressed in her ceremonial robes. The ex-mayor who presided over us was this woman so short and small I actually thought she was a midget. Turns out, it was a bit deceiving because the man in front of her, holding her Mayrol stick (used for changing the TV channels or for poking the people pealing her grapes I'm guess) was such a massive circus freak of a giant, it made this petite woman look look like a 3 child. I almost burst out laughing when I saw her. Not very stoic and British of me. After some speeches, we all had to individually say our names, and swear the oath to "give my loyalty to the United Kingdom" and to Liz. Next came the "singing" of the national anthem (well, I say "singing" in the loosest possibly term. Almost everyone mumbled their way through it, except for the comedy duo act of Calv and Dr D, who were on the balcony yelping their guts out, albeit slightly off key. I've been told that singing God Save The Queen without having your arms raised in the arm, excepting to see football players (be it rugby or soccer) try to murder each other and screaming "COME ON EN-GER-LAND!" afterwards is very strange indeed).
The whole thing was actually really fun. Calv, Dr D and C came to watch me take the oath so I can now go and live in France if I want without need of any visas. It was very weird, but everyone who was there, all 40 or so of us, were all grinning from ear to ear. I guess we all must have been thinking about the hard slog we had to endure for 5 years to get to this point, and if you've been here so long, you must have embraced some of the country (heck, they make you pass a "Life in the UK" test before you can even apply to check you know something about Britain) so by standing in that room, you were saying you too wanted to be part of it .
During the ceremony, I am ashamed to admit, but at one point I almost cried. I found that my mind started to wander, and I started to think about how long it had been since I'd lived in Sydney, and about everyone I left behind, especially my mum and dad, and what sort of life I could have had back home. The two options I think would have been still living with my folks, without much having changed since I was 21, or married, squeezing out sprogs. Would I have been happier? Who knows. What I do know is that I'm glad I stuck it out, because this is what I'd wanted from the moment I realised that my sponshorship lead straight to that little maroon passport at the end of it all. So all the homesickness, and missing friends and family, and leaving everything familiar I guess has been worth it. Plus, I do have an amazing network of people around me, which has seriously kept me sane (though barely!) for the last almost 2190 days in England.
As for my gift: I've been asked about this already. No, to my great disappointment I did not get condoms or a AK-47, which I think really would have captured the spirit of South East London. No instead I got this delightful passport holder, emblazoned with the Southwark Councils crest, and a little "Southwark" on the bottom. Just in case immigration in some foreign country ever wanted to exactly where in London I'm from. I'm actually a bit disappointed. Not that at this point in time I'm ever going to need one, but you know, a pregnancy test with "Your Courtesy of Southwark Council" would have been more apt for the area...
And finally, after the ceremony the two most hilarious, classic, only in Britain, racist things happened, (which are actually quite funny):
1) The compair was congratulating us all, and asking how we all feel. Then he said "OK, so now
you're all British, you have to go home and start eating roast beef, and roast spuds, and Yorkshire puddings. Remember, that means no more peas and rice OK!"
2) When I went to hand in my form to the photographer so he could send my pics back of me shaking the ex-mayors hand, he asked me:
"ok, you're the girl from New Zealand right?"
"no, I'm Australian" (me thinking 'there weren't even any New Zealanders at the ceremony!')
"Oh, that's right. Ok, I'm just going to write something on your form down, you know, just to help me remember who you are, and make sure I send you the correct photo"
He, with a perfectly straight face, writes down: Australian. Chinese Looking.
For some reason, that made me laugh my arse off. Not in the least because I don't even look Chinese... What a welcome to Britain eh.