Impressive numbers, eh?

Office for National Statistics figures obtained by Mr de Bois show that in the ten years to 2011, a total of 3,599,000 people permanently left the UK.

Contrary to the perception of the typical emigrants being older people retiring to a life in the sun, the figures show that 1,963,000 of those who left were aged between 25 and 44.

By contrast, only 125,000 people of retirement age emigrated.

Quite seriously impressive numbers actually.

Research for the Home Office last year found that almost half of all Britons who emigrate each year are professionals and company managers.

So that report by the Work Foundation insisting that there is no international market for British management looks a little thin then.

So why are so many sodding off?

I\’m sure the weather has something to do with it. Ditto the tax system.

I originally left for work reasons. Moved again for same. Came back for a little bit and found, well, not that I had left Britain but that to some extent Britain had left me. That happens when you\’ve been off for a decade or so. So I left again.

And everywhere does indeed have the same sort of intrusive government that we all complain about.  But there is a difference out here. In much of the world (at least, in many of the places I\’ve lived) both sides, both governors and governed, know that this is an imposition. That the description of government as stationary bandits is true at least in part.

Thus there\’s a wariness about being too serious about the rules, about those impertinent demands. In both the US and the UK I\’ve found it different. Those imposing the rules really do think they are defending civilisation from the hordes that would destroy it. As an example, for complex reasons my flat in Bath was declared an HMO. I can just about, just, get the points about kitchen doors therefore having to be fire doors. It\’s a standard Bath Georgian, one flat to a floor. If three of five are owner occupied it\’s not an HMO, if three are rented it is. Odd that owner occupiers are free to burn to death in a way that tenants are not but there we go. The perils of national legislation: they had to abandon the idea of providing fire exists when whole streets are, front and back, Grade II* listed.

But I really did fail to see why the law insisted that there must be 1.5 m2 of preparation space in the galley kitchen. And whether this was legally necessary or not depended on how many other flats in the building were rented or not. And what I found worst was that everyone was dead serious about enforcing this. To the point that there were demands that I should redo the entire kitchen or the whole house would be declared unfit for human habitation.

The Men With Clipboards.

In Portugal the same sort of building regs. In this case it was about having converted a door into a window. A quick chat around the back and a flash of a brown envelope and we were done. We both knew that the laws had no real meaning at all, that they were really an excuse for a rent to be demanded.

Is this corruption? Sure. Am I happy with corruption? Nope, not at all. But, all in all, I do have to say that I prefer it to an army of people seriously trying to enforce the millions of rules and regulations that plague us all.

It\’s actually that most admirable of British (perhaps English?) characteristics. We do take the law seriously. The deal has always been that there will be few of them but we\’ll obey them. But for me that deal breaks when there\’s so damn many laws. In the end I prefer living where one can and does scoff at most of them, while still obeying the important ones. There are parts of the world where, keeping your head down of course, not being too obvious about it, you can just get on with life without having to bow repeatedly to Those Men With Clipboards. Something that I don\’t quite see as being true in England any more.

Yes, weather, taxes, cost of living, work, all have an influence. I simply couldn\’t do what I\’m now doing in Czech in the UK for example: the geology is wrong. But over and above that, and it\’s close to absurd to put it this way, there\’s a sense of being freer now outside England than inside it.

Another very odd way of putting it. By living outside England I\’m able to live rather like it used to be possible to live in England. Sure, they demand permits and licenses and permissions: but nothing very much happens if you don\’t knuckle under. Which brings me back to I\’m not sure that I did leave England. I\’m almost carrying a little bubble of it around with me as I go. I\’ll obey (and do) the important laws and the others, well, they don\’t really exist do they, as they didn\’t used to. It\’s England that left me.

I\’ve had the same conversation with both German and Czech engineers about mining law. Sure, you need a license to go mining. But the terms of those licences are interpreted expansively. Even the bureaucracy agrees that if something is even vaguely permissible, just possible to squeeze into the strictures, then you can do it. I just don\’t think that English rules and regs are treated that way. Rather the opposite, if it\’s even vaguely possible that it isn\’t allowed then it\’s verboten.

40 thoughts on “Impressive numbers, eh?”

  1. Living overseas since 1976.

    Everytime I go back and talk to people I get exactly the same felling that Tim does.

    The Uk is ‘don’t’. Doesn’t matter what, the answer is ‘No’ first.

  2. This is a refreshing read and quite the opposite of the point Tim has made in the past. I agree entirely, of course. Been out since 2004, not as long as many here.

    What strikes me most about the UK is the number of surveillance cameras pointed at you from the minute you arrive to the minute you depart. The supercilious attitude of those of whom Her Majesty requests they present no let or hindrance. The Estuary teenage moron who leans into my car at the channel tunnel, my British passport in hand, and demands to know where I am going, whether I speak English, and if I have a return ticket to leave the country after my visit. The great interest the UK Border Service or whatever it was called that week took in my personal finance upon entering the country shortly after I had transferred – by bank – around €50,000 out of the UK. They are watching. And they are very un-English about it.

  3. We did it in 2011,

    Had enough of deteriorating quality of life over the previous decade.

    Endlessly paying through the nose for worse and worse.

    The SE of England is fantastic if you’re a loaded oligarch living in Chelsea or St Johns Wood, Less so if you’re trying to keep food on the table and have to spend two plus hours/day commuting to pay or the worst housing stock in western Europe.

  4. Just out of idle curiosity, how are we defining “permanently left the UK”? How do you distinguish between that and gone to work abroad for a year or two?

    I left in ’02. I don’t recall having to notify the government I wasn’t coming back.

  5. All very well if you have the stomach for offering brown envelopes to officials, bottles of whiskey to doctors or presents to policemen. But seriously: more free?

  6. Can’t say I disagree with any of that but it’s worth asking the question – why?
    Shouldn’t think there’s a bureaucrat on the planet that wouldn’t insist on every i dotted & t crossed & be looking to widen his remit to the limits of his authority. Being able to do so depends on the willingness of the recipients of his attentions to bow down to it. And I have to say, for total spinelessness in the face of regulation, you can’t top the Brits. What the hell’s wrong with us?

  7. Or you’ve got older and Britain’s got younger (compared to you). Think about it.

    Moving to the UK after 25 years abroad, the reports I hear is that inspectors can very well be negotiated with, and mainly interested in helping businesses to get up to speed on regulations… and a lot of regulations make sense, especially to the younger generation.

    But that 1.52 metres does sound crazy. Did you call their bluff? Bet they’d have backed down.

  8. @Roule le Jour

    Look up the rules of tax Domicile. If you don’t make it plain you have left for good, the UK wants to levy Capital Gains tax on your investments and IHT when you die

  9. @Roue le Jour:

    “I don’t recall having to notify the government I wasn’t coming back.”.

    You mean you didn’t fill in form P85 from HMRC? As this does exactly that, it’s not compulsory obviously, but I can assure you that you or the executors will probably wish you HAD filled one out in quin-triplicate when they decide that although you died abroad they still want 40% of your estate thank you very much.

    I finally left the UK in 2009, but had been working abroad on-and-off since 1994. As such, I agree with Tim that the UK left me rather than the other way around.

    Now I just sit in the sun at home in the far east (quite cool here today, 29.8 Celsius) or do contract work in Switzerland, Germany, Holland, Italy, etc.

    Provided you avoid the clear and obvious laws (murder, rape, drunkenness, public nudity, etc.) you get left to your own devices, never heard of anyone anywhere else getting arrested for saying “Did you know your horse is gay?” to a policeman.

    In short, I’m not surprised that Brits are leaving the UK. I suspect a lot more would if they realised that they could survive outside the boundaries of the sceptic isle.

    You can only nag, bully and thieve off people for so long before they up sticks and bugger off. 3.6 million people isn’t much, but I’ll bet it makes a big dint in George’s tax revenues. You can bet your bottom dollar that these will mostly be net tax contributors (after tax credits) that are leaving, not the benefit dossers.

  10. There used to be a joke that under English law everything is allowed unless it is specifically forbidden, under German law everything is forbidden unless it is specifically allowed; whereas under Italian law everything is allowed, especially if it is specifically forbidden, and under Soviet law everything is forbidden, especially if it is specifically allowed.

    May be it needs updating…

  11. My take on it is that the Maastricht Treaty was the killer. After that the bureaucrats in the UK had full rein. All the things they had wanted to get their hands on previously, but were prevented from doing so because Westminster was still sovereign and would have had to actively legislate for, suddenly started originating in the EU instead. Thus it became a case of ‘We must implement this EU directive Minister, we can’t ignore it. Sign the order here please’. And Ministers became rubber stamps for stuff that previously they would actively have had to drive through Parliament. It probably ramped up once Labour got in in ’97, because they were (are) control freaks, but the seeds were sown in ’92. We’ve had Labour governments before and they never managed to f*ck things up to this extent.

    So we now have European style legislation on everything, but English style enforcement of everything too. The worst of both worlds. And virtually no way of ever getting back to how things used to be, short of the State imploding due to having no money left, and having destroyed the currency by debasing it to extinction. And that wouldn’t be pretty either.

    So we face more of the same stifling bureaucracy, or a Mad Max scenario. Great.

  12. It’s really the difference between talking and doing.

    We – British people (Although I’m English I recognise the great achievements of the Scots and Welsh and Irish) – used to do a lot of doing.

    The New Labour Party illustrated that a lot of talking is indeed, in the modern era of instant comunication, a short term substitute for doing.

    They did the Old Labour thing, totally fuck the economy in the same way every Labour government has ever done, but they did it so much more eloquently.

    Now, much of our economy is based on talking.

    It’s so much easier to talk about the Smartie tube diversity, one of every colour, rather than make your University a leading educational establishment.

    It’s so much easier to talk about relative poverty than to create wealth.

    And it’s so much easier to ban everything you don’t like rather than get a proper job.

    There will come a time when talking will ensure that the Western Civilisation will sink into oblivion as other nations do things.

    By that time, the talking will have devolved to just chatting.

  13. @DrMakajaz:

    Sorry, but no. If HMRC can get it’s claws into you they want 40% of the entire estate less any allowances.

    If it was just assets and property in the UK then that could be avoided by cashing out and leaving the UK before death.

  14. ” If three of five are owner occupied it’s not an HMO, if three are rented it is.”

    I’m pretty sure that’s wrong, not that I’m intending to start a discussion of HMO rules. The point is that the ludicrous regulations are actually some jobsworths’ interpretation, not the rules themselves. The problem is that even if you know that, it’s next to impossible to fight them – and also not worth the effort.

  15. Having lived abroad before, I’m presently in the deep Cotswolds, where the culture is mono, the beer and pubs are great, and the people friendly. I don’t trouble the law and it doesn’t trouble me. Rolling hills, golden stone houses, horses clip clopping by now and then – it’s paradise, really.

    But I can see the rest of Britain heading our way, incrementally, and anticipate retiring abroad when I hit my mid 50s. Somewhere high and snowy (the sun’s not for me) and far from the madding crowd. I feel very sorry for those without the option, but then most of them probably voted for the way things are, they just didn’t read the small print.

  16. Let me tell the other side of the story. I work for a large multi-national in the home counties. We have offices worldwide, but the UK is the focus for our value-added work. (The worldwide offices do little more than local sales & support.)

    The office consists of around 50% foreign professionals, all well-educated. Most of them are Europeans though there’s a fair number from elsewhere in the world. Many live here but have families back home; others moved here alone or with wives/girlfriends; few have moved here with kids in tow. The management are all Brits aged 40+, but the workers certainly aren’t.

    Some of them only intend to stay here for a few years, save up some money, improve their English, then go home when their economies improve (e.g. Greeks, Spaniards, Italians). Most however see London as a good place to be: it’s better than Bulgaria, it’s safer than Bogota, the weather is more bearable than Moscow. Crucially, it’s a great place in which to be a foreigner. They may well return to their home countries when they retire (after all, most places are cheaper than here, especially if you need long-term care), but as long as they’re working they’ll stay here.

    Do they complain bitterly about the high cost of housing, transport, utilities, food, and indeed everything? Yes. (Especially housing – have you seen London rents lately?) But they’re still here because this is where the jobs and money are.

    Where else could they go? Switzerland is much smaller, America is hard to break into, Australia is too far from home, and in Singapore or Dubai they’d be competing against millions of Indian and Chinese candidates.

    For Britain’s economy, I’m not worried about the millions of professionals leaving. They are being replaced by millions more arriving. Their biggest concern today is watching the pound sink against the euro: if their earnings drop, they’ll be on the first flight out.

  17. Tim

    Even by your own high standards, this is one of the best blogposts I have ever seen – absolutely spot on, and as a fellow emigre (to the USA) I couldn’t agree more with your assessment of the UK bureaucracy. It’s very ironic that your (and that of most right minded people) nemesis Richard Murphy trumpets that ‘the climate is changing’ in an intellectual sense whilst failing to realise that he is sowing the seeds of his (and the bureaucracy for which he is the front man’s) own destruction, as productive people who he is taxing to the hilt are leaving in droves, and he will soon come to the slow realisation that when you tax 100% of Nothing, basic maths (and basic economics) will tell you what you get.

    I have often posited that in a field like Education, the UK manages to make ‘the worst of all worlds’, and nor, I’m sure many will agree, is that the only field in which that is true. So,when we look at the obvious comparator countries in terms of huge Left wing ideological bias within schools, I have unfortunately never met anyone who has had the opportunity to partake in the North Korean education system, but have met a few researchers who have seen the education system in the PR China for example. (I can;t envisage there being a massive difference) All have commented that the disorder which, even by the Teaching Unions’ own admission is endemic in UK schools is almost wholly absent in the PRC. Obviously it would take a lengthy paper to list why this was the case but the educational bureaucracy in the UK seems to have only one solution – give us more money to suck up and despite an appalling return we’ll get it right at some undetermined point in the future.

    That sums up the bureaucratic mentality, and whilst I acknowledge it is not unique to the Uk, it is far worse there than most Second or First World countries I have visited.

  18. I think Jim (#13) is very correct when he looks at the EU as a culprit here although I’d say that it really began with the Single European Act (1986) rather than Maastricht. However, as Tim says, my dealings with the bureaucracy in, for example Germany, can be summarized by the following example.

    On a coach trip from the UK to the Czech Republic, I contrived to lose my wallet at the border crossing between the Czech Republic and Germany (this was before Czech EU accession) – It contained about 100 pounds and my then debit card so was naturally quite hacked off. Imagine my shock, then, when a Letter arrived out of the Blue, wrongly postcoded but addressed to me, in German, saying that my wallet had been located and outlining when it was available for me to come and pick up. They had evidently found a membership card of my local snooker club and although it had the street name and town, it had no postcode bar the club’s (which was different) but somehow the letter had arrived. Calling on my knowledge of Schoolboy German to compose a reply, I wrote saying that I was immensely grateful but was unlikely to be in the vicinity of the German/Czech border for some time. About three weeks passed and an international package,combined with substantial customs documentation, arrived at the door, comprising the wallet with all documents intact and all the money save 20 pounds, which had been changed to pay the postage, and included the change in then Deutschmarks. Suffice it to say I was absolutely gobsmacked and have always used that to illustrate that there is no issue with bureaucracy per se, it is with the attitude of the official in question. In Central Europe I have found them eager to offer assistance in interpreting the rules. In the UK, there are confrontational, aggressive and, in many cases (not all I must say) extremely unhelpful – basically they seem to have taken Richard Murphy’s attitude as a template.

  19. It is for similar reasons that I bizarrely found, on many measures, more freedom in Kuwait than I did in the UK when I first emigrated. There is nothing more infuriating and pathetic than a jobsworth whining in a British accent that “it’s just not possible”.

  20. In the UK, there are confrontational, aggressive and, in many cases (not all I must say) extremely unhelpful – basically they seem to have taken Richard Murphy’s attitude as a template.

    This might be because (as I suspect) the bureaucrats in the UK are generally as thick as pigshit.

  21. That 1.5m2 is definitely a wrong-un. From

    Fixed worktop(s) with a smooth impervious surface for food preparation, minimum size 500mm x 1000mm for up to 5 occupants or within an individual unit of accommodation.

    Your flat is a “individual unit of accommodation” within the HMO. Therefore, unless you were planning on letting the flat to more than 10 people, they were over-egging the pudding, so to say. Probably three-fold.

  22. “the bureaucrats in the UK are generally as thick as pigshit”

    This is because most civil service jobs can be done by your average school leaver with basic maths and English ability.

    The only people who go for civil service and local government jobs are retards who can’t get a good job anywhere else or skivers who are on the union lark and basically do 10-12, 2-4 and then fuck off ‘deputising’ (i.e. down the pub) the rest of the time.

    Although they say that graduate recruitment is essential, this is only the case so they can keep the payscales up in the core grades. Your typical basic clerical / admin staff in both civil service and local government earn a starting salary of around 12k.

    Who would work for that if there was some other alternative?

    I suppose there is the “gold plated pension”, but if you’re earning 12k, it’s not going to be worth much more than your average private employees pension nowadays. By the way, on that note – FUCK YOU GORDON BROWN & ED BALLS! CUNTS!

  23. Actually, can I correct my statement at #25? Sod it, I’ll do it anyway.

    Therefore, unless you were planning on letting the flat to more than 10 people, they were over-egging the pudding, so to say.

    Tim could, of course, have let the flat to 11 closely related people – in which case 0.5m2, while a bit restrictive, would still have been legal. In order for more than 0.5m2 – never mind 1.5m2 – to have been required, the kitchen would have to have been “shared”, therefore the flat itself would have had to be an HMO or the kitchen shared with the flat above or below.

    Now, I’ve never visited any of chez Timmy, but I suspect that this flat would not meet many of the rules for letting to quite so many people. So the conclusion, if not the process to it, still stands.

  24. Lots of moaning about UK. Why are so many people coming here?

    I’m tempted to say because all you miserable gits have left, but, trolling aside, why?

  25. Because here is better than Somalia and Pakistan for 99% of Somalis and Pakistanis, and a nice to tick off three years for Aussie barmen, and Swiss bankers can make a fortune.

    The latter two are culturally assimilated and will probably go back to their own countries eventually anyway.

    The former two are less so and may not. (In the meantime, any kids they have are more likely to act as a drain on local resources than an enhancement – though there are obviously exceptions.

    But the fact that some people want to come here from shitholes and others want to leave here for what they perceive to be better places is not an inconsistency anyway.

  26. So why do they come here, rather than, say France?

    If you think Australians work in bars these days, you obviously don’t live here. They’re lawyers and accountants. And London schools outperform most of the country, so this “drain on the community” stuff doesn’t work.

    And Swiss bankers come here to make a fortune? Doesn’t that suggest we’re doing better than Switzerland? I’ll settle for that.

    Sorry, try again. I’m struggling with UK as third world dumping ground and haven for Swiss bankers.

  27. Having been raised in the wilder reaches of the colonies where a healthy disrespect for the letter of the law and an ability to improvise were essential survival skills, living in the UK is a continual lesson to me of Adam Smith’s idea that there is a lot of ruin in a society before itbfinally goes tits up. I hope I’ll be gone before all vitality is throttled out of it. My father volunteering to fight for the “old country” in WW2 seems a mad romantic futile exercise.

  28. Well, I left a couple of years ago following nearly a decade there. I just got sick of working for companies full of negative people really and the wages just didn’t make it worth it esp with the money on offer in Asia and Australia. The last straw was watching the pound drop below 2 NZD while shivering through an Aberdeen christmas.

    Now in Aussie and not only is the money a number of times more, I don’t have a feeling that there are 22 different ways it’s going to be chiseled. Rents are expensive, but aside from that it’s not too much different and taxes are much lower. Not only the pay, but the work has been so much more rewarding.

    No more cheap hopping around europe on long weekends sadly, but I make more than enough to head away for a couple of month a year without worry, so on balance even the remoteness isn’t a big issue.

  29. Luke>

    A better answer would be to note that an awful lot of the immigrants don’t come to the UK, they come to London.

  30. My point being, of course (#5) that the official figures aren’t worth much if they only count people who have formally told the govt. they’re not coming back. I have chums here who go back to the UK to work occasionally so none of us count, although we’re never going back to live (or die) there.

  31. I’m tempted to say because all you miserable gits have left, but, trolling aside, why?

    1. Better job opportunities (in terms of projects to work on).
    2. Better salary and no tax.
    3. Better employment terms (expatriate deal, accommodation, car, and utilities paid for, etc.).
    4. Excitement of working in a different country.

    All of the above as reasons for why I don’t go back, but one more as well: quality of life (measured in what you spend vs what you get in return) is higher in almost every other place I’ve been to (Sakhalin being the exception, but Russia has its own attractions).

    For sure, people will be coming to the UK for the same reasons I left: individual circumstances vary, and whilst for a Pole the UK might be a good place to more to, for a Brit Kuwait might be a better place to take up a role.

    I suspect they don’t choose France or Germany over the UK because of the language barrier: most people who come here will know English, but probably not France. For those who speak French, they almost always choose France.

  32. @Luke

    ‘So why do they come here, rather than, say France?’

    Language. Benefits system. Generally less confrontational state than in France.

    ‘If you think Australians work in bars these days, you obviously don’t live here.’

    Loads of them work in bars. Not all of them. Some are nannies, some are teachers, some – yes – are accountants etc. It was a generalisation to make a point, which was they (mostly) come here to work, unlike some people from other countries.

    ‘And London schools outperform most of the country, so this “drain on the community” stuff doesn’t work.”

    If you think importing tends of thousands of unemployed (and largely unemployable) people from Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan (or Australia, in theory, though less in practice I suspect) to a country with free schools, free doctors, free housing and easily-accessed benefits is not a drain on the existing community I suggest you look upwards and then come back on the show to tell us what colour the sky is in your world.

    That’s not to say it’s a bad thing – it may be a humane way to behave. Buit it is a drain.

    ‘And Swiss bankers come here to make a fortune? Doesn’t that suggest we’re doing better than Switzerland? I’ll settle for that.’

    We are for bankers, sure. (Isn’t that well known?) Though we also send plenty of bankers to Zurich, too.

    ‘Sorry, try again. I’m struggling with UK as third world dumping ground and haven for Swiss bankers.’

    You originally asked: ‘Why are so many people coming here?’

    The answer (in general terms) has been explained a number of times to you.

  33. Luke

    You seem much more civilise than the usual suspects on the Left so I’ll treat you with more civility. (Speaking of Arnald, does anyone know if he is alive?)

    I don’t know many Swiss bankers that are heading here, although I have been away from the Capital for a little while. It could be that the sustained attack on a country which can lend so many patterns of good governance led by people like Murphy has them spooked, but again I don’t see a huge exodus of people from there to here. There are a large number of people from Australia and New Zealand but these are frequently (albeit not always) relatively short- term visitors who make some money nee and then head back. As you rightly say, these no longer have to work in bars or suchlike, but nevertheless they are transient.

    Which leaves us to the remaining immigrants, of these two groups stand out. Firstly you have huge numbers of Eastern Europeans from the likes of Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia and Hungary who are coming here to work. indeed I have worked (when I was in the UK) with significant numbers from Poland especially. In all 4 cases, though as the largest Poland is probably the most illustrative of this, the government in question has chosen a tacit acceptance of this Exodus as a way to divert from unemployment back home , so from their perspective it works well. From my own experience I don’t think many come here for their experience of the Uk bureaucracy, but if you wish to believe that, then fair enough.

    The second group comprises practically the entire world (at least in small numbers) if you want a small illustration of this, with very few exceptions, watch the football World Cup and the Guardian (hardly an opponent of mass immigration) will invariably point out that X country has a ‘small population here’ – thus through the ‘Beautiful game’ , I learned that there are small cohorts from Senegal, Angola, Ecuador and Cote d’Ivoire (none of which were our colonies and which we have no real obligation to) I thought I had found one country where only the ideology, rather then the immigrants had been taken in (North Korea) only for the Spectator to reveal there are around 800 exiles who have escaped based in London.

    Thus superficially your statement holds true, but the marketing of the UK as ‘Treasure Island’ by unscrupulous human traffickers, and the perception that the government will provide you with all your needs is widespread, and whilst not always based in fact, for this group, especially if non- Caucasian in origin, the bureaucracy’s massive concern to avoid accusations of ‘institutional racism, will work in the immigrants’ favour, as the various stories of Somalis and Algerians in 8 bedroom houses worth in excess of 2 million illustrates.

    Whether the resultant pressure on Public Services and endemic overcroding across South East England makes England a better place is a highly questionable statement, as is your contention that ‘London schools are almost uniformly excellent’ – It’s true that there is a flood of people wanting to get into the UK, but that is not, IMHO necessarily always a cause for celebration.

  34. Thanks to all for various responses, much of which I agree with. I suppose my heart is with the idea that Britain, particularly SE England is overcrowded, but my head says megacities and mass immigration is where the money is. NY or LA vs Montana, London vs Nemwhat Thrubwell (if it indeed exists).

  35. I left Albion in ’03 – never even returned for hols – and decamped to Mexico (land of the slyly concealed brown envelope). When I transferred the property sale profits (around £50k) the bank told me they had to complete a HM Government reporting form to explain why so much dosh was being transferred out of the UK. I told them it was, “For cough”, and refused to explain further.

    Mexico was no paradise – although I did get a book out of the experience – and the rising level of narco-violence drove us up here to the snowy wastes of Canada…same quasi-Socialism, different jackboot.

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