kate and pansy
think about taking over the world
but instead decide to take another drink
Friday, December 09, 2005

I got an email from an old friend out of the blue.
Asking me if he should take a job in London. And well, I didn't talk about bacon but I did try and explain how I felt about living in the UK.

Should you move to London? Well, that is a very big question. I suppose I need to ask is it a job you would like? Is it a permament move or would this be for several years? How does the rest of the family feel about this?

I quite like London. But I am not sure these days I could live there. Its a great big city. Very crowded and very cosmopolitan. But I love living in the UK. Why? Tony Blair is my prime minister and is likely to be replaced by Gordon Brown (who I also love). London is run by red Ken. I find myself following American news and getting more and more confused and alienated by what happens in the US. I don't think I could ever move back to the states (notwithstanding that I'd like to take a year out and go there so that the blessing can experience american schools and culture for a year).
What else is great about the UK? Can I talk about the NHS? I don't even think twice about health insurance. Sure, I may not have all the technology american money can buy. For day to day living, the NHS rocks. Cheap dentists too.
When I am too long out of the UK, I go into withdrawls from the Guardian. Serious lefty newspapers. Serious news. Can I just now talk about how much I love Channel 4 news (and not just for Jon Snow's ties?). I think American are willfully uninformed about their world. I don't watch endless updates about missing blondes. In fact, I love British TV. Less ads (none on the BBC's), great films, admittedly I see the American shows later but I like my tv. I find myself listening to BBC Radio 2 these days and that scares me, but oh well.
Can I mention that the Brits don't work as hard as yanks? I get 30 days a year holdiay time. The office will close down from Chistmas to New Year's (and no that doesn't count as my leave). I get an extra 5 days a year parental leave. I don't take that if the blessing is sick. If the blessing is sick, I take dependent care leave and that just exists. The H and I benefit by having the first £50 a week each costs of childcare untaxed and we don't pay national insurance. Its a good benefit and it just happened.
I'd say to anyone, move to the UK. Work under UK conditions.
London? Well, as I said, its big, its crowded. It ain't cheap. Now you might be okay. You might find London prices are like Bay area prices (I don't know). Or you may find yourself an hour out of London on a commuter line, spending time on the train in the hopes of having a bit of a garden. London is extremely multi-cultural. I think this is a good thing but it isn't the picture of Notting Hill. But London has buckets and buckets of culture. All types of culture. It is also easy to get from London to all sorts of places in Europe. You could drive to France every summer and spend two weeks in the sunshine eating great food and drinking ridiculously cheap wine. I like the English. I like their sense of humour. You will get a lot of stick for being a yank. And they drink more than Yanks do (not as much as the Irish) and well sport will be entirely different. And the Olympics are coming. I don't know anything about the schools. I think it is a bit like the states. You want a house in an area with good schools.
If the job was for less than two or three years, I'd say why ask. I think exposing people (particularly children) to different cultures is a great thing to do. If it is forever or for as long as you can imagine, I will tell you it can be hard being an ex-pat. The older I get, the more I miss my family. I don't have the friends here that I had in California. I like the freedom of being an exile but at the same time, culturally I can be all alone here (very excited that a canadian has started in the office and wow, it is just wonderful). It will be easy to get from London to either LA or the City (not like trying to go from Belfast to South Dakota--my parents hate me). And you will go stateside at least once a year if only to buy things (trust me). But I made the move (admittedly not to London) and I wouldn't go back (well, let's say it would take an awful lot of money to get me back into the states, an awful lot of money).
Hope this helps (though I suspect you know what you want to do either way),

posted at 7:28 AM

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Just like the state of nature, nasty, brutish and short...I was always fond of the nickname 'Craxi'...Sometimes I cook, sometimes I tend bar, sometimes I even knit. Mostly I try not to read the plethora of government publications that cross my desk and write one page summaries.
favorite food: lobster. ben and jerry's ice cream
favorite show: CSI
favorite drink: grey goose vodka (with ice, it doesn't need anything else)
age: far older than I like to admit/contemplate

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