Drifting Offshore in the Gathering Darkness

One becomes almost resigned to Amurka doing horrid things to one. (We have just had a paradigmatically liberal citizen of that nation staying, with whom we evolved the form of words “ut dicitur President”, for a President not belived by all to have been unequivocally fairly elected. This ut dictiur, being very snarly Latin for “so-called”, tends to be prefixed to the title of any Anglican cleric in the catalogue of the Vatican Library, “the so-called dean of Durham”, “the pseudo-bishop of Exeter.”) Anyhow, I have been grieved for some time by the fact that, although I am a citizen of Scotland within the European Union, the ut dicitur President will not allow me to visit his country, let us say to admire the fine picture of a fat puppy and a box of sweets in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, should I have already visited La Habana to have researched further the villancicos of Esteban Salas.
This is bad enough, but now that man who makes the software has started monkeying with European geography and I think we should be aware of the potential consequences.
My relations with England have developed into something very complex and grown-up over the years, an accomodation with that disinterested bestower of fast roads, standard English and proper cognomina (I think it’s neuter but I’m feeling too Highland to check this morning, the Latin dictionary is heavy and anyhow it is raining) upon my people. I no longer feel as I felt sometimes in my youth, that, if tectonic plates permitted, it might be quite restful just to snip along the dotted line represented by Hadrian’s Wall. Imagine therefore my disquiet on discovering that Mr Gates has done it for me.
On the list of possible countries offered to buyers, the harmless buyers of antiquarian books about ecclesiastical architecture, one of those Fascist little pull downs which fill a mandatory space without which you don’t get your book about Bavarian Roccoco, no siree, offered “Scotland” which is my patria, as opposed to “UK”. So I clicked “Scotland” thinking how enlightened of the software people to notice that we now have a parliament of a sort in Edinburgh.
Then the fun started, in the form of increasingly hysterical “system-generated” emails about how I could only choose five days as the quickest shipping time. Then another “system generated” about how I would have to authorise exceptional postal charges for overseas shipping. I was buying the book (I hasten to add) from Solihull in the West Midlands. I know that this is in England because I have been there. The next morning brought less hysterical but defeated emails from the Midland bookseller who said that he had spent the morning trying to persuade the software for electronic antiquarian bookselling to believe that Scotland was attached to the UK, at least for purposes of postal delivery, but in vain. So he’s sending me the difference of charges in stamps, which seems to me a quintessentially old-fashioned and English solution to an international problem. If only they had thought of it in the mid-eighteenth century. But none of this resolves the question of where the software believes Scotland to be.
Your suggestions, as ever, welcomed.

3 Responses to “Drifting Offshore in the Gathering Darkness”

  1. Andreas Minor Says:

    Perhaps, given the recent political changes that have revived the Northern lands anew, the over-zealous programme translated Novia Scotia a little too literally. As a side note, I’m not sure that the Ut Dicitur President will be preventing your entry to his nation merely on the basis of a visit to that troublesome little Caribbean isle; officially, even Americans are allowed to visit. The only problem being that, if they spend any money there at all, they are committing a crime. A loophole that has allowed several Stateside business delegations to visit, as long as they only survive on generous hospitality.

  2. paul Says:

    I’m not sure how the man who makes the software is to blame for this (not to defend my neighbor of a few miles too strenuously), though I do sympathize. Is there reliable telephone service between Deepest Aberdeenshire and England, cables under Hadrian’s Wall or something? Perhaps a telephone call or FAX transmission would be more practical . . .

  3. Jon Says:

    As Steve Bell realised, it must be Yurp.

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