Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Castle

In Kafka's novel, the land surveyer K is summoned to the castle erroneously. His arrival is acknowledged provisionally but never definitively, and he never gets any closer than the village at the foot of the castle, where he works as a school caretaker. Although the novel has no end, K discovers that a land surveyor may or may not have been needed at an indeterminate point in the past, though he was not necessarily the person who was actually called for. I now know how he must have felt.

Nine weeks after I applied for my criminal record check I received a letter from Newcastle Council telling me that I need similar checks done in every country I've ever lived in. The only help I was given was a fax back telephone number, which only has details for two out of the five countries. I'm surprised they didn't set the letter to self destruct as soon as I'd read it. From what I can gather, I'll need to visit the embassies of China, Japan, Korea and the Czech Republic in person, forking out cash for travel, postage, consular fees, official translations and having my fingerprints taken. The Italians will let me do everything by post, or at least I think they will. But unlike K, I won't be getting any kind of job in a school until it's all finished.

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