Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The F.B.I. File

Remarkably, the trip to the US Embassy was painless!

Okay, the journey there was a bit of a struggle. First off, it was about 40 degrees, which was fine but not so good since I was in my 'please don't deport me again' suit, which got pretty stuffy. Then, there was the railway to deal with. Having been spoilt by the SNCF in France, the trains in England seem incredibly primitive. They're late. Consistently. When they do shuffle up to the platform, huffing and wheezing like an Austin A35, they're invariably crammed full of people. Then, once you're squeezed in between two middle management types and a tourist from Frankfurt, the train huffs and puffs it's way to London.

It took me two hours to get from Winchester to London. Seventy miles away. Compare that to the TGV's in France, which can whip you across the country from Paris to Marseilles in only three hours. That's over two hundred miles an hour! And you're guaranteed a seat!

Anyway. Enough of that. I got up to the US Embassy at about 09h15 and only had to wait an hour outside. I spoke to a nice chap who works for Chrysler, getting his visa stamped again. Plus, I met a sweet girl who was engaged to some bloke from the Catskills who she hadn't seen in six months. Reminded me a bit of me and Tina!

Anyway. It took an hour before a tiny woman from Malaysia took me off to the broom cupboard (I kid you not, she unlocked the cupboard with the mops and brushes and fingerprinted me there.) Then she told me how nicely I spoke (in her thick accent) and wished me luck. And I was free to go! She even took two sets of my fingerprints in case the FBI screw up the first lot, which apparently they do more often then not.

On my way out, I met up with my friend from the queue. She had her interview while I was getting fingerprinted and had her passport stamped then and there. Six months from application to visa. Perhaps, for people who haven't got quite such a colourful immigration history, the system works.

Anyway. It looks like I will have the opportunity to visit America again within the next few months. My God, I can hardly believe it!

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