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Friday, August 26, 2005

Yesterday was lovely.

It was just what I'd needed after the dismal day before. Everything went right. The drive was easy, the children were all delightful, lunch with my parents was lovely, as was walking along the river with them afterwards, and we saw a rainbow on the way home. And I'll always remember listening to listening to Jolie Holland while stuck in traffic on the Queen Elizabeth Bridge, seeing the sun on the Thames and watching the birds swooping through the cars.

Today was not lovely.

When I'd got home last night I'd noticed a strange squeaking noise from the car. And when I dropped Bobby at work this morning the noise was so loud that he called me to say he'd heard me squeaking all the way down the hill.

So this morning I had to find a dealership - fortunately, our car is still under warranty - and get over there forthwith. They looked at the car, and said that if I brought it back at 3 they could fix it. The squeak was fairly trivial, apparently - something to do with the brake pad not being properly positioned. Got home, did the dishes (oh how I miss my dishwasher), put a load of laundry in - and a load takes forever here, as, in order to meet energy efficiency standards, they use very little water, and consequently take much longer to get the clothes clean - and had to go out again immediately, as I had an appointment at the doctor's. In order to register with a doctor's practice here, you have to go through a preliminary get-to-know-you appointment where they take your history and so forth. So that took two hours. Then I had to go all the way back to the dealership. And then it was time to fetch Bobby.

And then I called the Surrey schools department, to find out which schools the children will be attending the week after next.

Seems I needn't have bothered to send their applications priority mail, because the person who deals with them has been on holiday for the past week. Her post is waiting for her on her desk. She'll only look at it on Tuesday, when she gets back. When she does get around to looking at the applications, she'll need to get in touch with the schools and see if they have places available. Only, she won't be able to do that on Tuesday, because the schools are still closed for the summer holidays. No, there's nobody there at all, not even the admin staff, because they need their holidays too, don't they? So she probably won't be able to let us know which schools have places until after September 4th. September 4th is the first day of term. So the children won't be able to start school with everyone else. But not to worry, it's not just us, there are plenty of other people in the same boat. No, the system is not flawed, this is the way things have always been done here and it works very well. Very well indeed.

And then I put down the phone and started crying.

I feel so bad for the kids. We've dragged them away from their home and their schools and their friends, all the way to a different continent, and I can't even organise a decent start to the school year for them. I feel so helpless in the face of all the red tape and mindless bureaucracy. Why are the stupid people always the ones with the power? This is like that fiasco with Sophie's MMR all over again.

Fortunately, the girls don't seem at all perturbed at the idea of starting late. Stephen is in a foul mood though; probably worry about all the uncertainty.

And then I had to go the grocery store because all there was to eat in the house was a jar of peanut butter, some muesli, and some rather wilted lettuce, and Bobby was on the phone fighting with Vodafone. He is so much better at that sort of thing than I am; he doesn't get shrill and he doesn't get tearful.

And now I plan to spend a little while writing and reading and then I will bath and get into bed and maybe things will look better in the morning.

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