Sheffield is closest

A bit long, this one. Sorry.

In the past few months I’ve been in a transition. Changing jobs, that is.

It was all going on quite fast. I got a call from an agent that he saw my profile on LinkedIN and he has a job for me. Usually I turn these down. But this time I’ve decided to talk. Talk led to a phone interview which lead to an Interview in London.

Circumstances dictated that the interview would be the next day. And then I realised – I don’t even own a suite I could wear in the interview. Looking in my wardrobe I quickly realised that the only jacket I own is ten years old, and at best looks tired. A dash to M&S resulted in a simple yet functional suite. And shoes. And tie. Now I am ready for a wedding. Preferably someone else’s.

End was two interviews in London. So the suite got used more than once. And I got to know the city a bit better. Yes, the interview was in the heart of the city.

One thing lead to another and I signed the contract. One minor thing left to fix – work permit. As I am a bloody foreigner I still need one.

Enter stage left – Mr David Cameron. New government changed the law. A cap was introduced on work permits, causing my future employer to stop and count – is it still within the allowed number of permits? This really put the spanner in the works.

Two months later the answer was clear – yes, they can request it for me.

As a lot of time has passed already, my work permit application was to go through the express-lane in the Border Agency. Instead of sending the application by mail and waiting for six to eight weeks – I’d go and submit it myself.

Oh, minor thing – I must take an English test. Well, it is the law. Only I took one two years ago. But apparently these tests have a short shelf life – two years and they expire. I guess if I lived in Essex it is quite likely my English would deteriorate.

So there I went again, to London, to take an English test. First time I took the lucrative IELTS test, in Cardiff. This time I went for the Pearson computerized test in London, as the results are immediate. Suite not required. Just me.

How did it go? It started like any alien examination of an earthling. Short of certain type of probing which it seems aliens are keen on. I needed to take everything out of my pockets, including kleenex tissue. A photo and scan of right palm were taken. My palm was scanned also when I entered the exam room, and when I left it. I was watched like any criminal through a window. No food or drink allowed. I did not have the right to remain silent.

Earphones on, keyboard at hand and the smallest dry-wipe note-board on my right: it has begun. Earphones were not good enough and I could easily hear all the other test-taker’s voices clearly. The keyboard was hard and stiff. But I type quickly anyway. What could possibly go wrong?

Two hours later, or one hour ahead of schedule I emerged from the interrogation exam room, having finished my test. I had plenty of time to walk across London to Paddington station, as my train was not due to leave for Cardiff for two hours.

Results came in.

I needed a 59. I got an 85 out of 90.  If you want to know what all the scores mean – press here. To sum it up – 85 means my English is good enough for me to teach in the English language. This goes well with what I got on the IELTS test – 8.5 out of 9.

There was a small issue…. spelling. I got a 19 out of 90. Now, I know I am not a great speller – but 19 seems quite wrong to me. Mostly because I got 80/90 for a 400 word written discourse. I also hardly use a spell checker.

I do make spelling mistakes, and get some typos. But 19? Pearson claim this is correct and I can pay them to automatically re-check my test. What’s the point?! Either they take a look and see if there’s an odd problem with the algorithm, or they tell me to bugger off. So I’ve decided to let go.

With the final obstacle removed we could finally apply for my new work-permit.

“Cardiff is full and the next closest one is Sheffield” I was told by the lawyer who is in charge of my application.

“Closest one is Sheffield”? Where’s the next one? Falklands?

So we all set for Sheffield. I’ll say that I haven’t seen a dirtiest, dullest and possibly the biggest waste of space than Sheffield. Not that it doesn’t have potential. It does. Only it is all dirty and stinking.

I am personally responsible for a KFC employee getting employee of the month. Yes, Sheffield is the place where I first ate at KFC. Four years in the UK and never made it into a KFC. But Sheffield presented the opportunity. This is all thanks to the kindness of the employees of Her Majesty’s border agency.

Now, normally if someone says the words “kindness” and “border agency” one would assume he is being sarcastic. Only, quite against nature, I am not. Everyone in the office of the BA was extremely nice and understanding. We’ve spent six hours there watching them deal with far too many people (student-visa high-season they said), while still maintaining a positive attitude.

I was there with four children, two who are babies. And they’ve done everything they could to help. Putting CBeebies on the telly being one, showing good spirit and will to help when it came to take a photograph of the (crying) babies is another.

Telling us to go out for two hours as the other option is wait right there was another. And this is what lead us to KFC, and to me being responsible for the potential rise to fame of a KFC employee.

I asked him to clean a table for us. The floor was black with dirt. And sticky. The table was dirty with what I hope was ketchup. Quietly, without even acknowledging my request the hero went to the kitchen, tore a piece of kitchen-roll, took some sort of spray and cleaned not only our table, but the one next to it.

Food was good, mind.

Once we’ve come back from our glorious trip to KFC we were happy to hear the application was approved.

London – here I come. Farewell Wales – you’ve been a great place to live in.


About snailonabike
I cycle, I run, I live, I have a family, I write code for a living, I have an opinion

4 Responses to Sheffield is closest

  1. eynat says:

    Walla, yoffi.
    good luck and enjoy London.
    good bye to FIS?
    what are you going to do in your new job?

  2. Paul Seligman says:

    Wales will mis you, Az. But I’d stay clear of Sheffield and Essex if you have any readers there. And remember that spell checkers don’t spot it when you right a valid word inn the wrong plaice and it doesn’t suite the meaning. Tricky, this written English.

    I”d add a ‘waving good-bye smiley’ if I knew how.

  3. William Lannen says:

    Goodnight, suite prince 😉

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