It is pure pleasure, not having to sit in traffic every morning; not having to shift uncomfortably on my behind and mask my irritation through protracted, tedious management meetings; not having to manage anyone other than my own good self; and having the freedom and the flexibility to do so. These are just a few of the good things, about my new life as an independent consultant. But events do conspire, sometimes, to remind one of some of the perks and advantages of being a director in an organisation: a PA, and staff, for starters. So when the printer won’t talk to my wireless network; when the wifi network goes awol; when there is no more paper to feed the printer and there are no more leverarch files to file the mounting piles of notes and papers – well, there is only one person one can turn to: moi!
When, I wondered from time to time as I trawled through a busy week, do I manage to get any actual work done!
Well, the work has to get done, doesn’t it – and it will, and is. It’s just that that wonderful flexibility I was talking about, that sense of ease, of being in control – well, sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way.
But that’s okay. I’m not ready to trade places yet, with my former self.
Along with the work, and the admin, I have managed to get a couple of other important things done. Like submitting my application for a UK visa. A ten-year visa, to be precise. Until not so long ago, of course, we South Africans did not require a visa to visit the UK, and over the past decade my records (from the labour of putting together that Canadian permanent residence application) show, that I flitted in and out of the country a half dozen times or more, without a second thought. But now, because of the chaos and corruption in Home Affairs, and after repeated warnings from the UK government going unheeded, the UK has withdrawn that privilege. We South Africans require a visa like anyone else who is not from what now, to the recently disenfranchised, seems a privileged circle of countries.
And that privilege – by which I mean, the privilege of a visa to enter the UK – comes at a price, let me point out. A quite considerable price, if it’s a ten-year visa you’re shopping for.
It’s not on the main menu, or in the fine print, it’s in the hyper-linked notes you are supposed to read before you commence online operations. If, like me, you assume these notes are composed only of miles and miles of boring bureaucratic bumph, please take note of the following advisory: check the fees, before you choose your visa. A ten-year visa, my friends, cost me just over R7k – or almost $1000, for those of you who deal in hard currency. And here’s the really cute touch: it is only after you have completed and submitted your application, and have been denied any prospect of changing your mind and going back, that you are presented with the bill.
Not for nothing did Napoleon, long before the internet and online booking, dub the English a nation of shopkeepers.
But I did do at least one good deed online today: I wrote to Mr Page, not with my lovely Mont Blanc fountain pen, it is true, but online, by email, to confirm that Rob and I would like him to officiate at our December wedding, on the summer solstice.
All on the same page, actually.