Coming to terms with Scotland’s No

I’d known for over a year that I was invested in the Scottish independence referendum. I didn’t realise just how much until I found myself standing in the kitchen, crying over the cat’s food bowl as media outlets began, one by one, to call a No victory.

As I wrote in this Yahoo! blog post just two days ago, the Ayes were never meant to have it. I knew that even as the polls gave the Yes campaign a lead. I told myself that over and over again; “it’s probably not going to go through”. But as it became increasingly clear that Scotland was not going to be independent, I realised I had actually put a lot more stock into a Yes win than I had let even myself believe.

Initially skeptical, Calum and I were inspired by the energy and vision of pro-independence campaigners. Not just from Yes Scotland, but the whole range of other groups: National Collective, Radical Independence, Common Weal, Women for Independence, Scots Asians for Independence, Labour for Independence, the Greens… the list goes on and on. The 2013 Radical Independence Campaign opened my eyes to how another society – a more democratic, fairer society with more participation – could actually be possible.

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A Scottish #indyref journey through Singaporean eyes

I don’t remember what first got me to look up online chatter on the Scottish independence referendum. Perhaps it was because my Welsh-Scottish then-fiancé (now husband) and I were moving up to Scotland, and I felt I needed to know something about the country apart from a quick Danny Bhoy guide. Perhaps it was because, as journalists, we both knew it was major news and I was still hoping for a job (this was before my healthy optimism about the UK media, at a time of major cost-cutting, was ruthlessly crushed). But I remember sitting in that cluttered postgrad dorm room in Cardiff, Googling the independence referendum while Calum was out.

I did not find the Braveheart nationalism that we had both assumed would be at the heart of the pro-independence campaign. I did not find Yes campaigners painting their faces with blue woad and promising that Bannockburn would come again.

What I did find was a Bella Caledonia article on the potential of #indyref and how it has allowed Scots to really think about the sort of country they want to live in.

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Getting Married in the UK? : A Guide

I’m finding that getting married requires a lot of paperwork.

I recently had a most frustrating experience on the Visa4UK helpline. To be fair, it wasn’t the guy’s fault; he was just as constrained by a difficult, bureaucratic system as I was. The phone call ended on a most unsatisfactory note – I was told to withdraw my visa application, hope for a refund of my fee within 28 days, and do the whole process over, or send an email to yet another helpdesk and hope for a different response from the one I was just given. I was also charged £1.37 per minute (on top of my regular phone bill) for the call. (They take your credit card details up front, before you even tell the advisor what your issue is.)

So I withdrew my application and started over, filling 11 pages’ worth of forms again.

I don’t think I have been particularly bullied or unfairly treated in this whole process of trying to get married in the UK as a non-EEA spouse. The people I have come into contact with have tried to be helpful. At the end of the day it is the grappling with the rules, the websites, the confusing mass (mess?) of guidelines, forms and requirements that have been the most stressful and frustrating.

And so, instead of just complaining about it to my friends (which I admit I have already done), I’ve decided to try to compile a guide to getting married in the UK, setting out all the rules and procedures in one place. After all, this is what I wanted and needed the most: one page that tells me what I need, rather than navigating multiple links and PDFs and being directed from one website to another.

DISCLAIMER: What I set out here is based on what I’ve gathered from my own experience, and what I can make out from the Visa4UK and Gov.uk websites. I am getting married in Scotland, so have more direct experience of how it works there (the rules might vary for Wales, England and Northern Ireland – if you have experience in these countries please help improve this post!) I can’t guarantee success, obviously. If you spot anything that is inaccurate, please let me know so that this post can be updated and improved.

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