UK Immigration & My British Citizenship Ceremony – One American’s Experience

Elizabeth Harper Receiving British Citizenship Certificate From Deputy Lord-Lieutenant, Peter Davies

Receiving My British Citizenship Certificate From Deputy Lord-Lieutenant, Peter Davies

A simple way to take measure of a country is to look at how many want in. And how many want out. ~ Tony Blair

Three days ago I joined a group of fifteen immigrants standing in a half circle as we pledged allegiance to our new country. Even though I was fairly giddy with excitement over the ceremony, I was aware of several things. It was obvious at a glance that we were a diverse group, but it was not until I heard each of them read some variation of the words below that I realized how different we all really were.

British Citizenship Ceremony - Elizabeth Harper, (Far Left)

Only six of the sixteen appeared to have English as a first language and it was almost painful to watch as four or five of those becoming British citizens struggled to read the Oath of  Allegiance.

Listening to a few of them mumble words that bore little resemblance to what they were supposed to be, I was astonished that they were there as I thought we’d all had to pass written tests to get to this final step. As I was writing this post I did a bit of research and it looks as if there are times when people may exempt from some parts of the testing process.

Elizabeth Harper, British Citizenship Ceremony

Cadare, is from Jamaica and we had an interesting chat about the misconceptions many folks have about people from both Jamaica and the US.

I wondered as I watched them about the difficulties they might have faced in the country of their birth and thought about the opportunities  they now have in the UK that they may not have had in their respective countries.

My desire to become a British citizen was not a difficult decision as I was allowed to keep my US citizenship, but after seeing the list of countries that do and don’t, I feel sure some of the people who took the oath with me were from countries that don’t allow them to retain their original citizenship when taking on a new one.

I think like many people I tend to take a lot for granted. Basic human rights for one, and a sureness that every American grows up with knowing that hard work and a bit a luck will carry them far. We are a nation of bold believers in our ability to overcome adversity, an idea made easier by the knowledge that there are laws in place to protect us from governments gone mad. I’m not sure the same is true for some of the people I was with on Wednesday.

British Citizenship Ceremony - Cornwall

Elizabeth Harper Receiving A Gift Badge/Pin Made Of Cornish Tin From Cornwall County Council Chairman, Mrs. Pat Harvey

Immigration for some requires closing a door behind them before stepping through the newly opened one of their adopted homeland. I’m grateful to have two doors that open at will for me and feel fortunate that unlike many brave immigrants, I can go home again.

British Citizenship Ceremony - Cornwall

My Interview With Cornwall Council Chairman, Mrs Pat Harvey, ‘ A Day In The Life Of Cornwall Council Chairman.’ Filmed by Cornwall Channel

I was interviewed by Cornwall Council Chairman, Mrs Pat Harvey, for ‘A Day In The Life Of Cornwall Council Chairman.’ It was filmed by Cornwall Channel and will be on FREESAT  found on channel, 401 or SKY on channel 212. It should air this Monday or the next at 9:00 PM.

Cornwall Council ChamberThe ceremony took place in the council chamber. You can see me talking with an American woman in a hat who also became a Brit and my friend,  Armella Jenkins who happened to be in the UK and came down from Devon to share the experience. She’s the woman to my right.

Me standing in the queue with Armella waiting for a coffee and scone after the ceremony. I’m happy and clapping, saying, ‘ Yay! ‘

Most of the photos are video screen grabs from a video John made. Thanks also to Armella Jenkins who took some additional images of the day. I may post an edited video version of the event later if any of you are interested in seeing it.

So ends a long journey that began more than four and a half years ago when I came back to the UK on a fiancé visa. I didn’t know then that I would apply for British citizenship and I’m happy that the only paperwork that remains now is that which is needed for my British passport.

This photo of a Celtic Knotwork lapel pin made from Cornish Tin is like one I received from Cornwall Council to mark the occasion. It’s made by Blue Hills Tin ,which is where I snagged the image.

Down A Slippery Slope

While away in Dorset for John’s birthday in late September, we spent a day walking near the cliffs around Lulworth. This part of the Jurassic coast is famous for the limestone arch, Durdle Door. You can’t see it without doing a bit of walking so come prepared to expend some energy

As I was photographing the man above working on a shot of Durdle Door, John disappeared in another direction following after his daughter and her dog. I was so intent on what I was doing that I didn’t notice they’d left and it was only after having a good look around that I spotted them.

We had already passed this warning sign so I did not expect what I saw next.

If you look to the left about halfway down, you can see a woman in a blue coat with her dog making her way down. (You can click to enlarge)


Look closely at this one and you can see a man with a backpack is with them. I’m sure you don’t need three guesses to figure out who we’re looking at here.

Just in case you need a bit of help, here’s a close up of the adventurous ‘rule breakers.’ Maybe they missed the sign … it’s easy to when there’s so much beauty to distract you.

Hurrying to catch up to them, I passed this barrier to the steps that normally enable walkers to reach the beach at Durdle Door. Bad weather had made it impossible to use and John and his daughter followed another path that some folks on the beach had used before them.

After seeing them reach the beach safely, I couldn’t just watch from the side of the cliff so I went down the slippery slope after them, all the while hearing the echo of every mother’s warning, ‘If your friends jumped off the cliff, would you jump too?’

Arriving safely at the bottom, I stepped down into a shifting surface that while not as soft as sand, gave way under my feet leaving impressions that announced to anyone following which way I’d gone.

Seeing Durdle Door from the beach was well worth the trip down and I felt enormously lucky to sit next to John and watch the sea.


After a few photos to remember the moment, it was time to move on.

Moving on meant climbing the slippery bit to get out. John and his daughter went first, followed in the shot below, by me.

I’m in orange near the bottom and the woman in the foreground is on her way down to the beach. It was far slippery than we make it look and  I was half worried that if she came too close she might slip and take me to the bottom with her like a bowling ball picking up a spare pin.

Once we were all safely at the top, John took this mud free photo of us (no one did a slip and fall) before setting off on the windy walk back to the car.

A Big Serving Of Hate With A Side Order Of One Person’s Version Of Christian Love – No Friend Of Mine

Some people seem to have lost their minds over the election and not just people like Donald Trump.

My friends and family have remained civil over our political differences of opinion, as should be when people who care about each other disagree.

Some folks however, have gone into total meltdown mode and have been spewing some shocking rubbish.

And the really scary part is they actually believe what they’re saying. Heaven help us if these people have guns because they’ve been whipped up into such a frenzy who knows what they might do in the name of God.

They scare me.

The day after the election I was forced to ‘unfriend’ someone on Facebook. She’s the only person I’ve ever had to exclude from my Facebook life and ironically, for the second time. About a year ago, I don’t remember exactly when, I unfriended her the first time. We’d graduated from the same high school, although years apart and I never knew her. I had approved her request both times based on mutual friends I could see that we had in common. The first time I unfriended her had to do with what I considered to be aggressive over the top hate talk, but it was nothing like what she said on Wednesday after President Obama was re-elected.

I unfriended her quietly the first time and thought no more about her, but the problem was that she came back. After a some months I got a friend request from her and I must have not been paying attention because after seeing her connections to a lot of my high school friends, I accepted her friendship. This is a mistake that will not happen again!

I’ve omitted her name as I have no wish to shame this woman and she probably won’t even know this post has been written, but what would her Christian friends think about her hate filled rant … what about her adult children and her grandchildren?

It might be easy to just dismiss her as unhinged, hope she gets help, and move on, but she’s not alone and that’s the really scary piece to me.

Most of you who’ve read my blog for a while know I have many questions about faith and God and how I feel. I’ve touched on it here before and I’ve been open about my doubting Thomas thoughts about the power of prayer, but I have to admit that lately I find myself whispering a few words that begin with ‘God,’ and end with ‘please, keep him safe,’ because I think President Obama needs some extra protective energy around him, especially now.

I don’t know what you’ve heard, but here’s a look at one person who while no longer in my social circle, is still very much out in the world sharing her message of hate while calling herself a good Christian.

(Internet Image)

This was the comment on Facebook that cause me to unfriend her:
“Obamacare will be the death of America!!! WE see what it has done to other countries and we don’t like it. We like our freedom of choice in doctors. We work hard and we deserve what we want and can pay for. Those living on welfare need to get off their ass and go to work!!!! I’m tired of keeping them up and all the give me programs out there. The US economy did not grow, it’s terrible! The number of people laid off work, loosing their homes, cars etc. If it grew it was the RICH that got richer from it. The news media would like you to think that because they are all corrupt liars! Obama is an EVIL, communist muslim! I doubt very seriously that any of it was legal. Blank panther parties keeping out voteres, maching going down, Am. soldiers votes lost…..blah blah blah!!!!!!! I don’t know where your from Claire but if you live in the US your in for a rude awakening. Wait and see! America is a nation divided …and a nation divided will fall!!!!!! A nation without God is doomed and that is what America has become. America has a disease….That disease is socialism with unlimited federal power and it will take the entire strength and will of the people to overpower it.” SAD SAD day in America….. November 7, 2012 …. the day America died.”
Then she sent messaged me on Thursday with the two comments below that were sent a minute apart.
Elizabeth….. YOU know nothing about me and that is clear to see. You speak not with your lips! It is clear to see that you are the typical Liberal that thinks only his/her way is right. I have seen OBAMACARE first hand with my parents. I know what it exsists of and I have read most of the papers on it. As have my friends. All he wants is to help the elderly die…quick so he doesn’t have to pay for them. You have the right to post what you like but I also have that right as well. Being on FB and posting allows you to say what you please as most people do or defriend them, as I did you. It doesn’t mean I don’t like you or hate you, I choose not to be your friend any longer. It doesn’t matter if you agree with me or not, Obama is clearly NOT a Christian. ( that is NOT why I didn’t vote for him ) Nor was he born here in the USA. Time will reveal that, I only hope and pray that it isn’t to late. Whether he wants evil for us or someone has named him as the person to do the job, evil is upon us.
From what I’ve heard, and I have friends in the UK, the health care system there is a mess! WE don’t want your type of health care~!~~ Most americans, the ones that actually work for a living, do not want OBAMACARE! We want our country to stay the same with the freedom to choose our doctors and type of medical treatment. When you have spent your whole life working at a job and retire with benefits, the president should not be allowed to strip them from you. THAT IS COMMUNISM my friend! Most Americans don’t need welfare, food stamps or free health care. Only the sorry, lazy people need that!
NOT one single person can name anything that Obama has done good for the USA….NOT ONE! The people that voted for him or the ones that one FREE everything….they live in a give me, give me state of mind, constantly demanding freebies, they are lazy and worthless, white, black and any other color!
I personally do not care if the President is black, green, purple or orange or his religious beliefs ( as long as he keeps it to himself) …for without the help of congress and senate the president can’t do anything…but what I do care about is the fact that our President needs to be more concerened with our military, protecting our men in other countries, not vacationing in VEGAS and lieing to cover his ass from NOT being here when this country needs him and OBAMA has not been! He has also proven that in the latest storm on the east coast where he showed his face for TV, and they are still without power, food & water. NO help has been sent in. He is a coward and a lier!!!
Truthfully John I don’t care who is upset with my remark, what bothers me is that you ENGLISH think you know what is best for us in the USA!!! The USA was not founded on Communism or muslim beliefs and we don’t want it forced don’t our throats! If they try there will be another revolution like you have never seen! You need to listen to other news stations or media sources and get ALL the facts before voicing your childish remarks.
Unfortunately there are not a lot of educated people on politics in the USA, they just go vote based on one thing that bothers them like abortion or gay rights. Those are things that need to be addressed but not the sole reason ( which most have proven here on your page ) when voting for a President. They should be more concerened about the happenings of this country and where it is headed. I’m ashamed that Americans are that stupid and uneducated!
My feelings about your comments would be a waste of my breath. I feel you have NO say so in the events of this country since you are now a citizen of the Brits! I don’t count duel citizenship. You can not be loyal to two countries during a time of war, so I don’t understand why they even give that. Makes no sense at all to me.
I wish you nothing but happiness, because I am a good Christian person with a huge heart of gold and would never wish bad on anyone. Hope you new country gives you more happiness than the one you left 🙂
I did not mean to offend you or John, I would never do that and for that I’m sorry. I just want you to know where I’m coming from with this letter.


I did find the smiley face a bit much in light of what she said during her ‘letter’ to let me know where she was coming from.

According to CNN, a lot of unfriending is happening on Facebook post-election, and I wonder if any of you have had a similar experience.

The End Of The Tunnel – Health Care & Me

I thought I should check in to say I’m still here.

For over a week I have been really ill with a ferocious bug of some kind and yesterday, while the topic for many was the American presidential election, my communication with John was tight and short due to stomach pain so severe I actually suggested a trip to the hospital.

After John made a quick call to the doctor’s office, I was able to be seen within about an hour of his speaking with the receptionist. There is a nasty virus going around but my doctor is concerned this might be something more as it has gone on so long.

He’s doing some tests to rule out a few things and until the results come back I’ve been told to rest. Rest suits me and I’m content to not do anything more strenuous than a walk between the sofa, the bathroom, and bed.

Food causes a violent reaction so I’m eating little, but the medicine he prescribed yesterday helped ease my stomach pain.

Towards the end of the office visit, our conversation turned to the election and as you might think, American healthcare.

I think ‘appalling’ was the word he used to describe his thoughts as he talked about a country as large as the US with no basic health care available for all of its citizens and I have to agree.

I was grateful that insurance or money was not something I needed to consider while writhing in pain yesterday morning trying to decide if a trip to A&E (what the ER is called here) was in my future.

I wish that kind of peace of mind for all my friends and family in the US and I hope with President Obama’s re-election, our politicians in Washington can find a way to work together to ensure no one goes without health care.

It’s a scary thing to be ill and not have the resources to do anything about it.

Living in the UK, I’m fortunate that it is no longer a concern for me.