Well, quite an eye-opener today, first timers. Today for the first time, I sat the Life in the UK Test. For those of you who are (rather fortunately) blissfully unaware of what this experience is all about, quite recently the UK decided to introduce a new test which must be taken by anyone who wishes to become a British national, which is, as its name suggests, all about Life in the UK. This is merely a pre-requisite, you also have to put in a lengthy application and (if successful) you attend a citizenship ceremony, where you swear allegiance to the Queen* (*coughs into hand).
Now rather foolishly, despite having been in the UK for over 30 years, I have never applied for British nationality at a time when it was rather easier, cheaper and had no requirement to sit any test, but recently I decided that if I was good enough to pay tax in this country and represent the Government regularly in court then frankly I'm good enough to have a British passport. So I booked my test and bought my book to swot up for the exam.
And so the fun started. Now, unfortunately I have signed an agreement with the Home Office which forbids me to discuss the content of the test. But what I can say is: oh my goodness me. Despite the fact that ultimately I completed the test in 6 minutes, I had to learn a massive amount of things I did not know. So, avoiding any questions I actually had during the test, or how they are phrased - do you know what percentage of the population described themselves as Buddhist duirng the 2001 census? Did you know the year in which the voting age became 18? Or the number of countries in the Commonwealth? Or why the Huguemots came to the UK and when? Exactly. Last night when I realised how hard it was (having left myself one night to revise) I sweated. A lot.
But hey, the good news is that I passed! Hurray, one step closer to swearing allegiance. And I met a charming Jamaican lady who was taking the test at the same time as me (she failed, sadly). But the bad news ...now I actually have to make the application, pay £700, send in my passport and wait 6 months to know if I've been successful. Er, yes, this does mean not being able to travel for 6 months anywhere ... and they might lose it! Maybe post-summer holidays...