Since getting my last scrap of official paperwork to fulfill the requirements of getting German citizenship on Monday, I have been giving the matter 24 hours a day coverage in my brain and together with the daily nonsense coming from Westminster and Washington, I have decided to do the deed sooner rather than hold off in the hope of the UK pulling back from the cliff edge. I ain’t going swimming and the security, for now, of dual citizenship, is a life jacket that may be useful in choppy seas.
So this morning, knowing that the civil servant responsible for my "case" only works Wednesday to Friday, phoned her to make an appointment expecting it to be at the earliest in a few weeks. There are only two people in the department for naturalisation at the county council offices in Mindelheim. One of the few such tasks not done at the parish level.
On 28th March 2017 when I paid my first visit and got the ball rolling, the clerk was on holiday but her boss surprisingly took the time to do some of the initial paperwork so as to get my application at least registered. I was afraid back then of a sudden decision by the UK government that would put down an "up until date". I needn't have worried as we have learnt the UK government cannot manage to make a single decision on anything (Not quite true, they announced today they have guaranteed Gibraltar's rights to free access to the UK financial services sectors and protection for their gambling business but only until 2020).
The boss was also very relaxed about my need to fulfil all the official requirements as he could see and hear I was already "integrated".
"There should be no need for a language test," he said, then added "but that's down to my assistant"
I called her when she returned to work and learnt I was to be treated exactly the same as an Ethiopian or any other. Quite right I guess, except knowing that if I could hit the back of a football goal net at 11 metres with my eyes shut and be nominated by the German Football Association as the ideal striker for the next World Cup despite my Mohammed Aman name, I would be exempt.
If my name was Wladimir Wladimirowitsch Putin and I could prove I came from a village that was once predominantly of a German settlement in the pre-WWI or WWII USSR, I would also avoid all the bureaucracy.
For goodness sake, my grandfather was named Georg Emil Castulus Mittermaier. There isn't a surname in the world that is more Bavarian than that. It was of course also my mother's surname before she married my father and I was raised from the word go that Christmas was on the 24th December, we didn’t eat turkey and I always loved Schnitzel and fried potatoes.
Well, today was my lucky day and I think it was with great compassion for my miserable situation that she asked if I had time tomorrow? She was going on holiday for 4 weeks from Friday as she had so much overtime to use up and she would get me “done” before she left. She then rattled off a list of those things still needed! Such as an official copy of my wedding certificate which must not be older than 3 months and from the parish council that registered the marriage. “But I don’t marry all that often and have learnt in my German culture exam that I passed with flying colours that it was illegal to have more than one wife at a time”. I could hear the wind whistle around her head as she turned it vigorously from left to right and back again. Oh no, here we go again. For goodness sake, both offices and officials are in the same region of Bavaria and there must be electronic data sharing. “NO -paper copy needed”-
Straight on the phone to the parish council in Buchloe where Angie and I were officially married Naturally the clerk had all the detail on her computer screen in seconds. “No problem, just send us €10 for the certified copy and €1 for postage”. I didn’t get too stressed though, I had been told that it was OK if I got the copy in a day or two after the meeting, but annoying as I simply want it done, and NOW.
Have a night in front of me getting together yet again all the copies of certificates and filling out forms by hand in preparation for tomorrow afternoons grand presentation of my application.
To cool down I took the dogs for the walk in Ottobeuren’s Bannwald forest. One long section along a stream is quite narrow with just enough room for two people to pass one another. It is still packed with ice and very slippery. Flash at one stage, despite four-wheel drive, fell over and couldn’t get up. However, at one point, he did manage to go down the bank and into the stream to ease his arthritic swelling joints. He is, after all, a Border and knows his boundaries even if he a banana skin is sometimes placed in his track. The old boy is now over 14 and I suspect he won't live to have to face the indignity at Dover Border Control of having his EU pet passport not accepted and having to prove he is of British heritage.