The difference between


I was going to post something about coding, software development, the process of writing what we have come to call ‘applications’ but which I, for 35 years have always called ‘computer programming’.

And then I came across this story on the BBC News – a site which is still lifting the pennant of true journalism above a mired pond of fake news and skewed ‘content’ by sites which claim to be reporting events but have hardened into a carapace of advertising click delivery and baiting.

Tessa Jowell has just died, succumbing to brain cancer.

John Bercow, who was my M.P. when I still lived in England and is now The Speaker of The House of Commons, delivered this living eulogy to Tessa a few weeks ago.

I am proud to be an American.  In fact I describe myself, accurately, as a British American since my new government are prepared to look the other way and allow me to retain my British Citizenship even though The Pledge that all new US citizens swear, hand raised (it’s unclear why), includes the wonderfully non-vernacular “I reject and abjure all princes and foreign potentates”.

I look at our Congress and the current maelstrom of knife-twisting invective and I find it hard to believe there are any left serving The People who could deliver such an erudite and germane delivery under circumstances where the weight of emotion was dragging at the corners of everyone’s eyes, quite visibly.

My hope is that, in time, we Americans will seek out people to be representative rather than reprehensible.  Where intellect is desired because we want leaders who can think through rather than blast through, who can build bridges rather than walls, to find common rather than scorched ground.

Right now it all seems like some kind of bleak game of Reversi.


See John Bercow’s marvelously dignified tribute by clicking on this link:


LARTs and flags n stuff

Let’s travel together back in time a couple of weeks…

So, then, in a flash of official paperwork and the tired eyes of a government official at the edge of a compulsory furlough I became a US Citizen.  A tortuous path of stacks and stacks of forms requiring me to repeatedly detail every country I’ve ever visited since before cable TV and expound on intricacies like marriage dates of wives long since divorced.

It was slightly unnerving to hand over my precious ten year Green Card in exchange for a rather pedestrian sticky label in which my allocated seat number for the Citizenship Ceremony had been written in black Sharpie.  We filed in, the ‘guy’ pronounced my middle name, “Paul” wrongly no less than twice before getting it right, a feat I didn’t think possible, had some speeches and then we all stood and took the solemn oath and pledged allegiance to our new national flag and the republic for which it stands.  It was, as they say here, freaking awesome.

It was the culmination of a day of remaining calm after my morning appointment for the compulsory immigration interview and US Civics test. I had about a twenty minute wait after I arrived, glowing and inwardly panicking before my name was called.  With barely one foot inside the tiny office I was told not to sit and remain standing whilst I swore to tell the truth.  Thankfully that was the last time anyone from the USCIS or State Department have ever given me that kind of penetrating glare.  Oath of Truth done, we reviewed the information on the official forms, seemingly corrected some minor date issues (they got the chronology of my first and second wives reversed) and then after a few subtle conversational questions to make sure I was on the level we went on to the Civics test.  Which I aced.

After a bit of computer prodding I was told that I would be recommended for citizenship but reminded that I would not be a citizen until I had a chance to complete the Oath Ceremony.  “There’s an Oath Ceremony being held here this afternoon if you’re able to attend”.

So I did.  What’s more my wife and my daughter were able to be there with me too as I became an American.

Now, a few weeks later, my US passport has arrived and my voter registration has been enabled so I get to have my say next week, for the first time in the US, on some key things like mayors and propositions and other such ephemera.  Just like everyone else…

Extract from a letter to a British friend

It’s odd for me to cast my mind back to England. British TV programmes that people rave about on Facebook are a mystery to me; British weather forecasts seem shockingly cold (it was 0c in the UK last Friday whilst we walking around in shorts and 32C sunshine). It’s weird how your memory can’t remember if you had to wear a jumper in May in England. Then of course there’s the fact that I no longer say “jumper” to talk about a “pullover” since a “jumper” is a little girl’s school dress. The same language, used differently. I get annoyed about UK prejudices toward America and American misunderstandings of British ‘ways’. I would say it makes me mad – but then that does not make sense here where you must instead say “it makes me cross”. Mad people are…well, crazy people…although, confusingly, crazy people are cross. It’s a wonder I manage to understand a word people say sometimes.

It was a long letter…sometimes saying “no” nicely requires it.