The Power Of Three

They say catastrophes come in threes. Today, the cistern went berserk and flooded the bathroom, the printer refused to print text (although images were fine), and the portable heater that was meant to dry out the bathroom took a stroke. Also, The Care Bears Movie, Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation and The Care Bears Adventure in Wonderland.

Not everyone agreed with the BBC’s choices to play Stroke Bloke, Paw Broon and Beth has spent some time pondering the fact that things stroke patients are meant to do, such as (1) dealing with the Visiting Nurse Service, (2) applying for disability benefits and, oh yeah, (3) going to the hospital, are designed to be impossible for stroke patients. In fact, rather brilliantly, I’ve just received a brochure from the social security administration, about seven months after beginning my application, explaining that “your payments cannot begin until you have been disabled for at least five full months.” I’m not sure why this would be.

Why? Because we can only provide your benefits in due course. In the fullness of time. At the appropriate juncture. When the moment is ripe.

Emigration, on the other hand, has been easier than expected. At least this time. This may be because it’s relatively easy to move to a country where you’ve lived for 20 years previously and your ID docs work first time. For example, I’m already back on the NHS register. At least temporarily, until I’m able to provide an official-looking piece of mail with my name and new address on it. Correspondence from my bank, say.

Meanwhile, I’ve also been trying to open a bank account. Many Brits moving to New York have told me how much easier it is dealing with banks over here in The Old Country. So, we popped in to the local Royal Bank of Scotland to set things up. Now, I get that (1) they paid staff bonuses of £1B in a year they reported losses of £1.1B, (2) their former CEO was stripped of his knighthood, and (3) they’re about to sell off over 315 branches, but at least they’ve supported Andy Murray since he was 13, so that’s a Scottish success story. We filled in the applicable form, but apparently nothing can be done without the branch manager’s approval. And Colin (for it was he) won’t do anything that hasn’t been set by appointment and calendared. Well, I’m sorry, Downton Abbey.

[Did you know you can get a “£” on a US-configured Mac by pressing “option+3”?]

On the plus side, I’ve got a bit of time to write now that my various structured rehab sessions are in abeyance pending discussions with my new primary healthcare provider/GP*. (*Delete as your form of English dictates.)

The only way to understand…

Later today, for example, I’ll be writing a hilariously irate email to the company that has made our move easy hellish by (1) providing a guaranteed quote demanding 80% over they original quote, (2) offering support seven days a week going totally AWOL for two weeks in the run up to the move and (3) appointing a “dedicated move captain to coordinate the logistics” ah-ha-ha-hah! The latest thing that my dedicated move captain is apparently letting me take care of is a C3 customs form, since I obviously know (1) the ship’s name, (2) the bill of lading number and (3) the date of import.

My Move Captain on date of import:
“Your goods are due to arrive in the UK on 15/07/2013. Please note that this is an estimated time of arrival only and can change without any prior notice.”

Still, at least I don’t have to personally tell the destination agents my name and address, because those are obviously too basic to screw up. Eh? Oh.

One of the genuinely nice things about moving overseas in 2013, though, is the ubiquity of social media. When I moved to the States, I lost contact with too many people too quickly. Particularly as time passed, and I was terribly busy with my terribly important job and all of the other terribly important things I had to take care of. What would dear Clive James have to say about that?

All of my life I put my labour first. I made my mark, but left no time between
The things achieved, so, at my heedless worst
With no life, there was nothing I could mean.
But now I have slowed down. I breathe the air
As if there were not much more of it there.

Today, I know that friends back in the US are taking stress tests and I can wish them the best. I see the countryside they are driving through as they relocate. I know what their kids’ last days of school look like. And because I am home, I have old friends who, notwithstanding my failings, will offer to pull together a group of the guys to act as a welcoming party, and I’m grateful for that.

I remember going to a presentation at Penn regarding how to get a job in America. One of the vital pieces of advice was to read the sports pages and follow American sports. Thankfully, the sports here are ones that I grew up with, make sense and are appealing enough that keeping up with them isn’t a chore.

CAPTION COMPETITION!!! Enter your suggestion in the comments, and win a crappy prize!

I like “Stroke Bloke explains to a fascinated American that the term “hat-trick” was first used in 1858 in cricket to describe H.H. Stephenson’s feat of taking three wickets with three consecutive deliveries.” But I bet you can come up with something more pithy.

I’ll admit though, there are things I miss. But while getting a can of Irn Bru in mid-nineties Philly wasn’t the easiest thing, if I suddenly decide today that I want some of that liquid smoke I ate in Brooklyn, I can have being some to the door post haste. Pleasantly meaty-tasting chickpeas? Easy as 1-2-3.

Liquid smoke, you fool! Not liquid oxygen!

If you’re Scottish, or haven’t tried liquid smoke for some other reason, I highly recommend giving it a shot. It’s got a nice umami taste. You know, umami, the fifth basic taste together with sweet, salty, bitter and sour. Ah yes, I remember as an eleven year old being glued to the reports from the first Umami International Symposium in Hawaii, wondering whether “umami” would be recognized as the scientific term to describe the taste of glutamates and nucleotides. And, in scenes that, to my young mind, recalled John Hewitt putting Real Madrid to the sword in Gothenburg two years earlier, umami was deemed to be properly evocative of a brothy or meaty taste. Wasn’t she?


Finally, having discussed the ins and outs of trans-continental migration and umami, let’s finish by talking about the rule of three…. Ian Wiki tells me the rule of three is a writing principle suggesting that things that come in threes are (1) inherently funnier, (2) more satisfying, or (3) more effective than other numbers of things. Sounds like a load of bollocks to me. I think I’ll just sign off  on behalf of me, Beth and Paw Broon.

omne trium perfectum — Horace
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5 thoughts on “The Power Of Three

    1. Good to hear from you, mate. You’re right of course. Just got back from my first appt. with my new GP. It went [spoiler alert] rather well.

  1. Thank your for the introduction to the phrase, “Omne trium perfectum.”

    While I’m a big believer in that principle — having been introduced to it at the age of 18 by an anthropology professor who is one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met — I do have to concur that the wiki sings bullshit to my ears. Errrm, eyes.

    The phrase, The Rule of Three, sounds like a brilliantly fraudulent self-help book that would be catapulted to riches by Oprah. But Latin… that automatically means it’s something intelligent, right?

    1. So, telling this joke, while unfunny, must mark out my erudition. Right?

      Waiter: Wine, Sir?
      Diner: Yes please, waiter. I should like a bottle of hock.
      Waiter: Hock, Sir?
      Diner: Yes please, waiter. Hic, haec, hoc, you know.

      Some time later:

      Diner: Waiter, where is my wine?
      Waiter: I am so sorry, Sir; I was under the impression you had declined it.

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