Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Isn't it wonderful to be British.....

Whilst my parents don't particularly like the fact that I don't live about 5 miles away from their country seat, return home for Sunday lunch every weekend, have my very own perfect nuclear family and am generally perceived as being a tad 'kooky', they don't complain too much... the one thing my mother does stipulate however, is that I must register with the British embassy where ever I am...probably because I am very bad at passing on addresses, phone numbers etc!

In Hong Kong I never registered - pre-1997 - it was British, after...I just never thought it necessary.

In Jordan, registration was simple (and very effective), you went to the embassy, filled in a form, drew maps of your workplace, home etc gave all contact details necessary and that was it...from then on, you were on their mailing list for invitations and events and in case of emergency you were contactable (and findable!). There were constant security and contact updates emailed to you and you had the direct number of your "go to" person in your area. This worked very well when they were closing the borders in Jordan (and the embassy) at the beginning of the Iraq war. Lots of phone calls in advance - "are you leaving or not?" and then finally - "the embassy closes at 4pm today, the airport tonight after that you're on your own". The system worked a treat, you know where you stood.

In Manila, you were encouraged to register online, which I did. I never heard a squeak out of them...nothing..not a security warning, not an invitation to the Queen's Birthday party...nothing.

In Bangkok....I forgot, until I went to the British Embassy website, they have now set up a new system called "Locate". Apparently this system means that you only need to register once...and then update your profile every time you move on. All sounds great, until you try to register....

Really - just a small gripe....but, you need to give two personal questions with an answer, the first one is easy - your mother's maiden name, the other two choices - a) your favourite band or singer ; b) the name of your street you lived on whilst growing up..... a) my favourite band changes quite frequently, and one one year to the next I would never remember that b) upto the age of 10 I had about 15 to 20 different street addresses - sure I could pick one now...and then next year when I have to update the profile, would I remember which one...

Then it gets a little more challenging. You are then sent to one of these long online forms to fill in...

1) you can only register your location for under 366 days...I have a two year contract in Thailand...its another irritant

2) and this really pissed me off...I filled in all the details...all the street address, postal address issues etc then submitted the form, and, apparently the system doesn't like hyphens or colons in the address section, so it clears the form completely and you have to start all over again.

Suffice to say....I'll try and register again tomorrow...all far too stressful for me! Pen and paper please......!

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