This month, new rules may come into effect regarding immigrants’ rights to attain British citizenship.  While it does not pertain to myself, I do wonder if I should consider British citizenship.  At present, I do not qualify.  Another two years in this country would give me eligibility.  There are these other tests of citizenship and proof of “good citizenship” to go through, but I’m not too worried about that.

My question is, would there be a benefit?  Would it make life any easier?  I know it would give me the right to vote, but how else would it help me?  I already have an indefinite visa.

I do know the possible disadvantages.  From what I understand, if I apply for UK citizenship, I may lose US citizenship.  And if there’s any remote possibility that we return to the US, I wouldn’t want to lose that citizenship.  The key word is “might”.  A British citizen, may acquire US citizenship without losing his/her UK citizenship.  He would have dual nationality.  However, the opposite is not true.  The US government’s website states that US citizens who voluntarily apply for citizenship in another country “may” lose their US citizenship.  This “may” could be crucial.  However, if automatic citizenship is granted, that person would not lose their US citizenship.  How does one get “automatic” citizenship without “voluntarily” applying?

My children have automatic dual citizenship.  But, they only hold US passports at this stage.  They would be able to get UK passports if we apply for them without them having to go through the citizenship process.  If I could do the same thing, I’d go for it.  But I don’t think that’s possible.

Several times now, we have pulled up to hotels looking for a room (because we don’t book ahead when our plans are flexible) only to be told that they were full, or did not have the rooms we were looking for.  As a family of four, we need a family room.  Health and Safety would not allow them to permit kids to stay with their parents unless adequate beds are available.  Furthermore, most places in the UK still charge per person, even children (sometimes with discounts).  However, the chain hotels (mostly US-owned) will charge per room.

I have been pleased, though, that when these hotels are full, they are extremely helpful to the stranded motorists.  The desk clerk will usually do one of two things: refer you to a local B&B that may have vacancies, or more often, they will actually get on the phone and call around for you.  I cannot tell how many times we’ve travelled overnight in the US and stopped at every exit to check the hotels.  So, I am very grateful when these clerks take the hassle out of driving needlessly in search of a bed.

Unlike in the US, you do not have large billboards advertising hotels/motels/B&Bs all over the place.  You have to look out for the brown signs with the beds on them, not knowing what you might get (reminds me of Vermont).  And you might not have these at every exit, so there is a lot of guesswork involved if you do not have your travel plans all worked out.

When we went to Holyhead this weekend, we ran into a wedding party that had booked up several hotels within a five mile radius.  We had set a time limit on driving, so we didn’t want to keep moving.  The hotel receptionist was extremely helpful, calling several places up and even calling back with questions, etc.  Her supervisor even printed up directions to one of the places.  Unfortunately, our daughters came in to use the toilets and wanted to stay.  So, after all that help, which I really appreciated, we ended up taking two rooms at the hotel to comply with Health and Safety regulations.  Unfortunately, it cost more than we wanted to spend.

I remember years ago, while watching a sports game, my husband commented on the American habit of jeering and taunting the opposition.  He couldn’t understand it because it was just not done in England.  Of course, this usually occurred only in professional sports.  But, then, you notice how parents and, sometimes, coaches can get riled up in amateur team sports.  These people are all supposed to be role models for our young athletes.

I don’t follow sports much.  But I remember a news story a few months back about how parents here in the UK were becoming extremely competitive (more so than the athletes) and aggressive at tennis matches.  Then, just last week, a talk show host brought up the issue of bad behaviour amongst athletes and their fans at football (soccer) matches.  They noticed this most especially with football, but not cricket or rugby.  It’s very interesting the trend that is developing.

Growing up in the US and having witnessed the taunting, I never thought twice about it.  When my husband suggested that fans applauded good effort on the part of their opponents, I thought it sounded strange.  After all, it’s a competition, isn’t it?  You’re supposed to support your team and want them to win, right?  Why cheer on the opponent?  Well, it has nothing to do with supporting the opposition.  It has to do with showing good sportsmanship.  Giving credit where credit was due.  You see post-game interviews and those who show good sportsmanship will praise their opponents.  If they’ve won, it’s a lot easier for most players to be generous.  But when they’ve lost, I have more respect for the players who say, “They beat us because they were a better team” or “They played better”, rather than “We lost because we didn’t play hard enough.”  It’s as if the latter group was saying they were better but they just couldn’t be bothered to put in the effort.  A very arrogant attitude.

One of the ways schools are trying to teach good sportsmanship is by applying the mercy rule.  It’s already been in effect in some areas, but they are trying to widen it.  It basically means that if a team is ahead by so many points, then the game is forfeited.  I’m not sure this is a very good idea as it may teach kids to give up when the going gets tough.  It’s probably best just to let them play it out and everybody shake hands at the end.  I wouldn’t advocate that the winning team let up in their efforts either.  They should just play the “benchwarmers” at that point.  Then, everyone gets a chance to participate.

Though the jeering may have infiltrated British sports, to the dismay of the general public, I don’t believe that cheering for their opponents will ever take in the US.  The mentality is so different.  Society has changed somewhat in the UK, but I do hope that they don’t lose their sense of sportsmanship.  It somehow sets them apart.

Many people are not interested in politics, but you certainly can’t avoid it when it’s discussed everywhere. And there’s still so much I need to learn about British politics. On some levels, it is similar to the US, but on many others, it is completely different.

It’s easy to understand the election of a Member of Parliament (MP) for each constituency. That’s like voting for a Congressman or Senator. But unlike the US, the voters do not choose the Prime Minister (PM). He/she is voted for within their party. Of course, when they go to the polls, the people already have an idea who the party leaders are, and that may influence their vote for their MP. Whereas the US has Congress and the Senate, the UK has the House of Commons and the House of Lords. However, the people only vote for their MP in the House of Commons. The Lords are appointed or inherited.

One of the most notable differences is that the UK has 3 major political parties and various minor ones, some of whom have seats in parliament. The US really only has 2 parties and a load of little, almost invisible, ones. But if you look at the political affiliations of the Congress and Senate, they only belong to the 2 parties. Once in a while, you’ll get someone who decides to call himself an Independent. The party in power makes up their cabinet, just like the US president does. However, the two other parties will make their own ‘shadow cabinets’. It’s an interesting concept and it makes for some heated debate between two or three ministers who are well-versed in their roles. In the US, you have politicians forming committees and one person may be on several committees. Then, you’d have all of them acting as watchdogs for everybody else.

What I’m still trying to learn is how the UK government is tied together. It seems that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have their own parliaments. Is there a UK parliament? Then there are issues about how the UK fits into the EU scheme of things. More to explore from that end. There are still many debates going on about whether the UK should fully integrate into the EU, stay the same, or withdraw. Other questions that have sprung up are, who gets to vote over here? It is just British citizens? There’s some talk that EU residents are allowed to vote. Is that fair? Unfair? There are arguments about ‘taxation without representation’, so it may be that EU residents can vote. Maybe someone out there knows and can enlighten me.