Symi Dream

Living on a Greek island

A Greek island blog from Symi in the Dodecanese islands of Greece. "James’s great talent lies in his careful observation of the absurd and the amusing, the dramas and the difficulties..." Anne Zouroudi.

Symi Dream - Living on a Greek island

Getting too old for this

Getting too old for this

(Random photos today, from December.) We were a bit calmer yesterday after Monday’s heavy wind and non-stop rain, so that made a nice change. I am currently in locked-in mode, not venturing outside very much unless it’s for a lunch invite, the shopping or, in extreme cases, having to go to Yialos to the bank or post office. You’d think this would give me enough time to sort out a few things at home, but the hours just slip by, even when I get up at 5.30.

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I did start looking into the online UK government site, to check out pensions and things, just out of interest. I’ve been in the Greek system for years now and, to be honest, can’t get my head around it all. So, I thought I should have a look and see what I need to do to top up my UK pension. So, I went online… As Frances Fisher says in ‘Titanic’, where she plays Rose’s mother, Ruth DeWitt Bukater and is talking to others about sending out wedding invitations, ‘My dear! Let me tell you what an odyssey that was.’

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First, I set up a new account, email address, password etc., and reached the point where they send you a text message security number. All fine. Would you like to set up an alternative just in case? Okay, so that was an automated phone message too. All done and dandy. Now we need to check who you are, so what’s your national insurance number? Got that. And your name? Got that, and… No, we can’t find any record of you. Page after unhelpful page later, having found out nothing of any use, I started again and used my ‘other’ name (Toby) which isn’t really my name. It only comes in third on my birth certificate although it was number one for many years and the certificate has an amendment changing it to Tobias, but neither has even been my first name. Anyway, I tried my NI number with that name and lo! I was acceptable. So, onto stage two…

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I checked out my pension contributions to see what I needed to pay, to top up, before 2098, or whenever I might be allowed to officially retire and, once I had picked myself up off the floor, decided there was nothing I could do about that. There will be some made up from the Greek system, maybe, if there’s still a system by then and all that jazz (and thankfully, for those concerned, I do have a decent private one as backup). So, I thought I’d better check my address and name and so on, just to make sure everything is tidily up to date. Well, not quite…

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Despite having been in PAYE employment until 2000, and registered self-employed since, despite having a very good accountant and filling out forms and receiving letters from the darlings at the Inland Revenue, or UNHCR, or ACDC or whatever they are now called, and despite a vague recollection that I did all this a few years ago… I discovered I am still living in Dalston, London, under the name of Toby, where I haven’t lived, or been knows as, since 1997. At this point, I gave up. I have written them a message, just for fun, but reckon that by the time I get this sorted out, it will be 2098 and far too late anyway. Still, things improved when Asif dropped off a huge bag of cat biscuits courtesy of Symi Animal Welfare for us to feed the strays with, to go with the huge bag Michaelis dropped off last week courtesy of Evangelia who feeds them in the summer. And so, life returned to normal.

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