June 30th, 2006

Vanitas desk

Quest for an NI Number, part 2

Frustrated by lack of any response to the number I'd read off of the sign on the closed Job Centre, I called the national contact number for NI numbers two weeks ago. They gave me yet another local number and told me to call that. So I did - four or five times a day for the past two weeks. It was always busy.

Today, frustrated by lack of usefulness of number #2, I tried going back to the Job Centre, taking with me details of the second-closest one as well. The Job Centre was just as closed as ever - but this time, a helpful guy in a car told me to keep going down the street I was on. And sure enough, further down the street was a fully open, entirely functional Job Centre Plus. I went in - and the man at the welcome desk gave me a sheet of paper with another number to call on it - and this time, there was even a partial explanation for why the number I'd been trying for the past two weeks wasn't working. As of today, the overworked Stoke Newington call center was closed and replaced by something better.

Back at home this afternoon I called - and to my amazement, the call was connected, a helpful person took all my details, and then agreed with me that twenty minutes was too little time to run across town to Tooting with all my uncollected documentation for the mandatory NI interview. Unfortunately, since I couldn't do twenty minutes notice, I have to settle for five weeks notice. But I have an interview date, right at the beginning of August! Once I finally, finally had the right and then updated information, it was all very easy.
Fishy Circumstances

Canada Day (Observed)

A woman touched my arm to ask me about the potato chips I was eating. "Where did you get those?" she asked in eager covetousness. I was sharing a bag of exotic dill pickle-flavored chips with cwjat, newly purchased from the Canada Shop set up in Trafalgar Square. The shop also sold A&W root beer and Hersheys chocolate, among a motley assortment of other junk food. Enormous red balloons floated above white tents, the spheres emblazoned with a map of the country.* From 5 pm onward, a stream of Canadian musicians performed on the large stage advertising the government of Canada, the Mayor of London, Petro-Canada, Blackberry. I'd even heard of two of the performers: Ron Sexsmith, and also Alana Levandoski, who performed with Dar Williams last year when on tour in London. On screen, a parade of Canadian musicians, including Jeff Healy and The Tragically Hip, none of whom were present professed their regret as absence. Loud cheers went up from different parts of the audience whenever a particular province or hockey team were mentioned in passing.

We've already celebrated it now,** but it's not even begun across the Atlantic in the country itself. Happy Canada Day!

* Photos forthcoming when my computer isn't constantly crashing.
** We spectulated that it's not being observed tomorrow here because of the UK England-Portugal World Cup Game.