Tuesday 4 June 2013

Bob the Gypsy

If I am to continue with a bit of light mentoring of the yoof at CodoDojoColo, I have to get myself Garda-vetted.  There is a unit of the Gardai whose task is to root out those whose past renders them unsuitable for the present company of minors.  It cannot be a blanket ban on anyone who has a criminal record because a bit of larceny or drunk driving (however reprehensible that may may be) should not preclude you from helping youngsters become better programmers and better people.  So I hope I get my appro but the lads at Vetting Central are going to have their work cut out to follow up all the data that I have been required to enter on the form.  Jakers, I had difficulty trying to be a scrupulously  and completely honest citizen on this question:
Please state all addresses from year of birth to present date
House No Street Town County Post Code Country YearFrom Year To
with lines for up to 22 places you've lived.  I needed 24 slots because for most of my childhood I was a navy brat - changing homes about every 18 months as my father got new postings.  I also needed help from my aged mother because I couldn't remember the street in Kingston, Ontario where we spend a year when I was rising 3.  Even she couldn't recall the street although she knew it was #11, in the oldest part of Kingston and opposite a Park that was flooded for skating in the Winter. With that much info and google maps I was able to make a pretty well informed guess about the street.  Google Maps wasn't a lot of help tracking down 11 Harold Terrace, Dover, England: a dreadful kip that my poor mother and her three weans had to stay for several months before the Canada gig.  There has been a fair bit of urban renewal in the East End of Dover and I'm supposing that the whole Terrace was bulldozed decades ago as a health hazard.  The same fate has evidently befallen the wholly memorable Cardiff address - 69 Cistern Street - where my father-'t-law lived with his parents and 12 siblings in the 1930s.

So what's the point?  I suggest that the "from year of birth" part of this question on the form is officiously intrusive, difficult to complete and so has the effect of encouraging dishonesty - if you can't remember the house number or the postcode it's tempting to erase that part of your life and tell the vetters that you lived longer in the previous address.  Investigating the 'investigations' that me and my pals carried out aged 8 is so silly that it calls into question the efficacy and even the desirability of whole vetting process.  When you have urban dual carriageways with absurdly low speed limits it encourages folks to break the limit there and by thin-end-of-wedge extension to break the limit and the law elsewhere.
The silver lining of this whole process is that I have been nostalgically stalking the places where I grew up.  The pink X marks the spot where, in about 1962, I came off my bicycle head-first over the handlebars and filled my knee with gravel on landing.  One piece of that gravel surfaced several years later like the whoosits from Alien.  The house on the extreme right is where I was taken to be first-aided by Mrs Thwaites, a trained nurse and mother of a ferocious girl named Siobhan whom everyone except her parents called The Battle-Axe.  There you are, that's of no conceivable interest to anyone except me, my sibs and the poor feller who married Siobhan.


  1. The other irony is the fact that if you nefarious then you are bound to put in incorrect facts deliberately - and as double irony enjoy making up places you supposedly live.

    Basically the introduction of fingerprinting all of us and putting it into one big data base would mean so much ease, no need for remembering your bank account number and pin, just scan finger. The dodgy have to be more careful and for the law abiding, no difference.

  2. I had the same experience, though I was not a navy brat and lived in the same house for the first 20 years of my life (well, two houses if you want to count the first year of my life, when I may well have been a serial rapist for all I know). Anyhow, after that, I made up for lost time and lived in Italy (4 addresses), Germany (6 addresses), Galway/Kerry/Dublin/Carlow/Kilkenny (10 addresses), France (1 address), San Francisco (at least 10 addresses), Mexico (myriad, but prob just 2 firm addresses). I could easily have forgotten some. However, up until 2001, I kept all correspondence like bank accounts, drivers licence, voting card etc. coming to my old home address, so officially I may have been away travelling, but that was my "residence". The whole area of Garda vetting is totally fuzzy. I don't even know how they go about investigating honest people like you. Mostly people give the three major addresses they have lived at, and the vetting procedure is really just used as a disincentive for those with a record.

  3. When I had my recent Enhanced Disclosure and Baring Service application done, they only asked for addresses in the last 10 years! Makes me wonder if the system is as thorough as it needs to or if they Irish one is trying to keep the many employed...

  4. Reminds me of having to obtain letters of freedom from parishes where one has lived so that the clergy in your present parish where you are having the actual ceremony can ascertain whether you're currently wedded and can therefore if necessary refuse to aid someone committing bigamy. It's a practice that relies on honesty. Being marginally dishonest I took shortcuts. The same with garda vetting. I remember being scrupulous with addresses, both domestic and foreign, in the first form I filled out for someone and he got the all clear within 3 days of the form going in. Someone on the other end was taking shortcuts too. Silly systems both.