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British Expat Newsletter:
8 February 2006

Hello, and welcome to those who have joined up since our last newsletter.

In this issue

  • This week: Community
  • Virtual Snacks
  • Bizarre Searches
  • Quotation and joke

This week

We live in Coronation Street. Well, not really, it just seems like it sometimes. Tom went off with another woman and his wife left after a blazing argument. Dick got deported for being involved in illegal activities. And Harry disappeared owing a lot of money. Whether he did a runner or died, no one knows.

Yes, life on a compound can be like that. When we headed off to live in New Delhi a few years back we were asked whether we were prepared for the stresses of compound life, and of living surrounded by colleagues 24 hours a day, with the attendant loss of privacy. Many expats go for years without living on a compound, and find it quite a shock to the system when they finally end up in one – a bit like living in a goldfish bowl.

Though with the size of some compounds, perhaps it’s more like a full-scale tropical aquarium. You’re living in an artificially sustained environment in the middle of unfamiliar surroundings; you’re crammed in with lots of other creatures more or less like yourself and have to live an uneasy existence together; and you’re under constant scrutiny from beings unlike yourself that ultimately have control over whether you can remain in your comfortable environment.

But that’s a jaundiced view. After all, the practical side of living is so much easier. If the water supply fails, or the gas bottle runs out, you can just ask the compound estate office to fix the problem. Security is often better – especially if the compound’s got a guarded gate and 24-hour patrolling. And, although you may find you have a comfortable lifestyle on the compound and are able to make friends easily, no-one’s forcing you to stay cooped up within the fences (although I gather there are places in the world where they DO do that, so apologies if you’re stuck in one of those places) or to find your friends exclusively among the other residents. So you can have the best of both worlds.

Depending on where you are in the world, you may find that your expat status gives you access to a ready-made community. Some of the expat ghettos are almost like village communities in their own right – so even a ten-minute walk down to the shops may lead to you passing the time of day with an expat near-neighbour. Very different from life in London! Nice though our immediate neighbours were, we didn’t really exchange more than a few words a week with them. And we weren’t on more than nodding terms with most of the rest of the street – and usually not even that.

Not to say that there aren’t any communities left in the UK, of course, or even in London. In the smaller villages there’s often a good deal of bonding, sometimes to the point where outsiders feel distinctly uncomfortable. (Though that can happen in some larger places, too. Apparently it takes over twenty years of visiting Norwich market before the stallholders will even say hello to you.) Sadly, though, it seems that neighbours remain a major cause for annoyance among UK householders – certainly if the number of “Neighbours From Hell”-type reality TV shows is anything to go by. The Government’s responded with the introduction of the ASBO (anti-social behaviour order, imposed by the courts on neighbourhood nuisances) and with pleas for more respect in society. I’d love to think that they’ll have an effect. In the meantime I’m happy to stay put here, where I can be sure of getting a friendly smile almost everywhere I go.

(By the way, the only thing made up in the first paragraph was the names. I’m not joking.)

Do you have anything to say about this topic, or do you have some suggestions for other issues we might discuss in our weekly email? Why not comment and tell us about it?

Virtual Snacks

Halifax Home Insurance carried out a survey last year which rated UK regions on a scale of 0 to 121 for their neighbourliness. Surprisingly, perhaps, London was pipped for bottom place. Find out where your “home” region ranked here:  [obsolete link removed]

Meanwhile, if you’re from England or Wales and you’re curious to see how many ASBOs your “home” constabulary is issuing, you can find out here:
England & Wales: ASBOs
If you’re from Scotland, you’ll need to download the [obsolete link removed]
(Sorry, we haven’t been able to find any data on Northern Ireland ASBOs.)

Bizarre Searches

Some strange search terms which have led people to visit British Expat recently:

  • festival of the radishes
  • public taxis are subsidized by the her majesty s
  • facial expressions in arabs
  • british do ggers
  • customised beetles
  • the snow the snow the beautiful snow
  • royal navy curry recipe
  • i hate the muppets
  • ginger rogers did backwards while wearing heels
  • funny cheeps
  • who meny cafe can a cow have
  • photos of a pile of dead goldfish in the pond in australia

Till next time…
Happy surfing!

Kay
Editor
British Expat Magazine

Quotation

“The supreme satisfaction is to be able to despise one’s neighbour and this fact goes far to account for religious intolerance. It is evidently consoling to reflect that the people next door are headed for hell.”
– Aleister Crowley, occultist (1875-1947)

Joke

A man was digging in his garden, when his shovel hit a hard object buried in the earth, which revealed itself to be an old bottle sealed with a cork. The man wrenched the cork free and, to his astonishment, there was a cloud of smoke and a clap of thunder. Standing before him was a genie.

“As a reward for freeing me, I shall grant you three wishes,” said the genie, “But understand, whatever you wish for, your most hated enemy shall receive twice over.”

The man’s most hated enemy happened to be his next-door neighbour, Jones. “Let’s see. My first wish is…” – he looked at his weather-beaten bungalow – “…to live in a ten-bedroom luxury mansion.” The genie clapped his hands and suddenly his minute shack transformed into the most beautiful house he had ever laid eyes on. He heard a cry of astonishment from next door and looked over to see Jones standing in the doorway of his new twenty-bedroom mansion.”Now I want fifty of the most beautiful women imaginable,” said the man. There was a puff of smoke and his wish was granted. He was annoyed, however, to see Jones grinning and waving, surrounded by his own harem of 100 women, all twice as attractive.

“What is your final wish, master?” asked the genie.

“I want to lose a testicle,” said the man.

PG Author: Kay McMahon

Kay has been an expat for nearly 30 years. She set up the British Expat website back in early 2000, whilst living in London and missing the expat life. These days she spends much of her time lugging computers and cameras around the world. (Dave gets to deal with all the really heavy stuff.)

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