I’m not the best adult, though I have managed to run my own household since 2006 without any hitches. All the important stuff is automated and the cats feed themselves, most of the time anyway. Yesterday was a warm one (yay summer!), I know because I spent most of it in Starbucks running errands via telephone (YES! I RANG PEOPLE. ON MY PHONE!) or actually, you know, running errands.
Changing my name has forced me to take a better look at my finances. Everything might be automated but different things go out on different days. I figure, if there’s going to be a problem (and no doubt there will be), it’s better if I have all my bills go out on the 1st which will then give me an entire month to deal with whatever inevitable cock-ups might arise. Go forward planning! I also wanted to close down credit cards I’ve never used, mostly store cards I opened years ago for such and such and offer and then forgot about.
I also rang my local council, mainly to sort my council tax payment date, and they helpfully explained all I need to do is bring in a copy of the deed poll and they’d not only make sure my name is changed, they’d also do benefits (I presume this meant the local council ones, not the DWP) and the electoral roll. Handy. Plus I now know where my council is actually based.
Then Uni and I did the other mundane stuff. We visited banks to close accounts, open a ‘contingency fund’ that my family can pay birthday/Christmas gifts into without knowing about the name change, went to the Post Office and had photos taken and got a couple of passport forms (tip: Always get a spare, it’s a bastard of a form). My passport isn’t due for renewal until next year but it’s also, as a visually impaired person, my only form of ID.
I got asked for a driver’s license three times yesterday. With the dog right next to me.
Hint: It’s not a good thing if blind people drive real cars. Or if their dogs do.
Seriously, to get a provisional licence, you need to pass an eyesight test. That’s just not going to happen. This is why I’m all for some form of mandatory government ID card, it really would make life much easier. I mean, it’s not like I normally carry my birth certificate and passport around with me. Plus I’m much too old to get carded, thank the gods.
But back to the errands.
By this point it was getting warm and we’d spent about an hour dealing with the notary public who is going to do the forms and make them official. Turns out you DO need a witness whose known you ten years. So I rang Paul, he’s like the only person I’ve actually known a decade and am still speaking too. Most friendships, they don’t last ten years, and you’re not supposed to have family sign the forms either. Seriously, who knows people that long?
Lucky Paul is awesome. I’d already asked him if he would and we managed, via much phone calling, to sort the appointment for tomorrow. I have to bring my life’s worth of paperwork (birth certificate, passport, utility bill, the paperwork itself or at least copies in case of issue) and so does Paul. Luckily he does have a passport, a lot of visually impaired people don’t and, again, it’s not like we can get driver’s licenses. He also has to bring ID, a utility bill, his passport … you get the idea.
He jokingly asked if he needs to make note of his inside leg measurement as well. He’s my witness … not the one changing his own name … crikey.
People have told me I can do this for free and I can, technically, except I have a house so it needs to be official as. Plus it makes me more comfortable, knowing all the paperwork’s been filed. My plan is to take Paul for dinner as a thank you and then go to the Post Office with everything completed and get it sent Recorded. Then, I suppose, we wait.
Then, I suppose, we wait.
I don’t actually know how long it takes. I’m hoping not too long as, again, I have a short window to sort things. I still need to go to my bank and check a couple details, like how important a name is when it comes to a bank account. I have a two week window to do the benefits side of things, though apparently ringing the DWP is the easiest bit. I also need to get my ESA and PIP paperwork reissued under my new name, which is probably going to be harder AND involve accused Vivaldi on a loop. At least once I have those, I can renew my Blue Badge and my rail card. And get my name changed on the NHS and whatnot as well.
I’m going to have to call a lot of people, from Land Registry to the government. Most of it should be a walk in the park, some will trickle down. I’m also signing up for accounts I use regularly, like Waitrose, under my new name. The social media stuff has already been done so it’s just a matter of changing the odd username an email address. I was expecting the internet stuff to be the bit that broke me but it’s actually been easy. I’ll have to get a new Paypal account, for example, but again it’s just a matter of a fresh application which will take ten minutes to do.
Starting fresh, it’s amazingly cathartic.
So tomorrow morning, I have to go to the part of town where all the solicitors have offices. Seriously, there’s an entire cul-de-sac of them right by the Cathedral (which will be a lovely place to wander first thing in the morning). Hopefully we won’t get too lost. I’m actually quite excited as soon things will be official. A lot of people I know have reverted back to my own name so it’s almost a way of saying that, no, I am actually Asha and not my former self.
Onward and let’s hope it won’t be too long.