Who wants to be a UK citizen?
Sometimes bureaucrats come across as silly pen pushers whose work has no relation to any reality beyond the spider chart on their wall. And no more so than right now. You see, recent legislation states that if anyone beyond these green and pleasant lands wants to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK, they'll have to take a ‘Life in the UK' test. I thought it would just be a case of naming all the people who’ve had sex on Big Brother and maybe doing the Angela Rippon dance from the Morecambe and Wise Christmas special. But oh no. The test is impossible. It’s ridiculous. I failed it. Twice. Before you all set your bulldogs on me and start yawning on about 'floodgates' and 'scroungers' and 'rivers of Garam Masala', see if you can answer some of the following.
What hours can a child age 14-16 work?
Not more than 4 hours without a one hour rest
Not more than 5 hours without a one hour rest
Not more than 6 hours without a one hour rest
Not more than 3 hours without a one hour rest
Er, they’re applying to live here, not employing a street team of 14-year-old electricians. I’m still not sure how long I’m meant to work without a rest now, let alone when I was 16. And the term 'rest' is great, by the way. It makes it sound like after three hours behind the counter in your local sportswear shop you’re allowed to go out the back and doze on the staff mattress.
Where do you normally go first if you wish to buy a house in Scotland?
At least it's got a nice chatty tone, eh? You know, it's part of your normal routine. You wake up, brush teeth, eat cereal, and normally, at that point, you apply to buy a house in Scotland. Apparently the answer is a solicitor, but that seems more than a little arbitrary. I mean, wouldn’t it be a good idea to check at your local bank that you could afford to buy a house in Scotland? Not to mention looking at the estate agents to see if there are any houses in Scotland for sale.
How many members does The National Assembly for Wales have?
I love the Welsh. Some of my best friends are Welsh. But, to be honest, if you’d asked me "does the National Assembly of Wales have members, seats or catchments", I wouldn’t know. And yet again, you are basically reduced to a multiple choice with error margin of 10. You might as well just ask, "How many sugars does Bonnie Tyler have in her tea: 5, 6, 7 or 8?"
You can ask advice from your health visitor until your child is how old?
Wow, okay. What’s a health visitor? Is that the person who comes to see if there’s asbestos in our walls?
Why did Protestant Huguenots come to Britain in the mid 1840s?
To escape religious persecution
To escape war
To become Catholics
To escape famine
I’m sorry. Hugh who? Maybe I picked up David Starkey's test by mistake.
What discount on television licence is offered to blind people?
Now this one I should know because it's forever coming up in my conversations. Just the other day the man in Tesco was telling me about how David Bowie only has to pay £98 a year for his TV licence because only one eye is in colour.
How long is a driving licence from a country outside the EU valid in the UK?
Jesus. By this point I was starting to think that maybe I didn’t want to live in Britain anymore. Not a single question about TV, about the cost of food, about public transport, or about the weather. In short, not a single question on ANYTHING that actually gets routinely discussed in British company.
And then this came up:
Where does Santa Claus come from?
That’s it. I give up.
Now, among this never-ending list of inane, impossible, incorrect and disputable questions was the following:
What is the deposit required for candidates standing as a Member of the European Parliament?
Where did the tradition of playing jokes on one another on April 1st originate?
What is the water rate based on if a water meter is not installed?
If the parents are not married, can only the mother can register the birth?
I was born in Britain, I grew up within Britain’s education system and did a degree in English and I couldn’t pass this test. Despite my C of E schooling I got all the questions about the church wrong. Despite paying rent, taxes and insurance since my early 20s I got most of the financial questions wrong. Despite doing A-level history I got nearly every historical question wrong.
So, if I can’t pass this test, who in the name of immigrant-punishing dickwads can?