04 April 2009

A Friday to end all Fridays

I went to work yesterday hoping to make some headway on my literature review, but got very little done. I think I'm trying to hard. I'm at the point where I am on a fourth draft, which for me is really bad news. It means that I am unlikely to fix it. My colleague made a good point: you can get criticized for a literature review, but no one is ever going to tell you that you have a good essay because of your literature review.

After failing at that, I came home and opened the mailbox to see an envelope from the Revenue Office with my name and address handwritten. I opened it up and saw the box starting 'You cannot claim Child Benefit...' ticked and stopped reading as I knew from our visas that we weren't allowed to claim any money from the government. I went inside and played with Naomi a little, and then picked up the letter again to read the rest of it. The box that was ticked actually read 'You cannot claim Child Benefit before 22/10/08' and hand written under that 'Payment will be made from the date above'. I opened up my online bank account and on Wednesday the government had deposited Child Benefit payments for the last six months into our account.

This is, in the land of small grant payment world, huge. It's not a lot, but it's enough to take us from just making it every month, to being able to be clearly in the black every month. It means that we will receive money from the government like a British citizen, and another £50 a month once Mei is born. So we will be able to move to a bigger apartment with no difficulty and can afford to pay for some of the things for the baby. Plus, we are likely to get a £190 child birth grant that we applied for. It's like winning the PhD student lottery.

We decided to go out to dinner to live it up, but the place we wanted to go was closed, so we thought, well we'll go to the supermarket and buy some things that we don't normally buy. I bought beer and crisps... and we got some toilet paper and some other stuff we needed: grand total £18. Then we got Chinese takeout and I realized something very important about the UK: If you are going to eat out, you will pay essentially twice as much for the same food you can get at takeout. And all for the pleasure of sitting in a different building.

Our financial situation has improved enough that I think we are not going to have to go into the red to have this next baby and maybe even replace the broken computer in the next couple of months. And given that Yoko and I tend to not change our living style when we get more money, I think we may be able to travel back to Japan once during the PhD and maybe even to the continent.