Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Yes, ha ha, very funny, now can we have the usual British summertime back please.
I left NY at this time of year to get away from 37 degree temperatures, but the degree equivalent of the average mid-life crisis age is methodically following me around the world, like a big weather-personal-joke thing.
And at the risk of missing out whole countries due to sporadic internet access of late, suffice to say Berlin was, errrr, HOT.

Monday was spent entirely at the American Embassy due to spectacularly incompetent lawyers who had somehow managed to totally mess up our visa application by failing to notice a ticked box on our forms and hence not following up by obtaining, or asking us to obtain, the required extra information. As far as I can see, all they had to do for their thousands of pounds was to 'copy out' forms we had already filled in months ago and notice a ticked box, and in addition to missing the tick, they even managed three 'copying - out' errors. Unbelievable! I swear my 8 yr old niece could have done a better job. So on Monday morning beady-eyed lawyer calmly sat there and said 'our paralegal missed it i'm afraid. She's new. The worse case scenario is that you'll have to stay in the UK whilst the extra information is processed'. WHAT?! (We know exactly what this means because the very same thing happened the first time round, and TH was delayed in the UK for no less than 4 months, due to someone in the same company once again missing a ticked box!). The TH looked like he was about to have a heart-attack and I was about to come out with my now automatic-American-response to threaten to sue , but then remembered that they're lawyers. (Allegedly.) Although frankly they're so useless I'd probably have won. Worst of all was their total lack of apology or any kind of concern. For all they cared we could be homeless and jobless in the UK for 4 months due to their incompetence, and that was just 'one of those things'. I can really see how folks end up in jail for years for crimes they've not committed if this is the standard of legal representation in this country.

The American Embassy must be the only place in the world with 'America' in the title which doesn't have air-conditioning. So we sat in excruciating heat for the entire day with about 600 others and one fan (the redistributing warm-air kind, not the stalker kind), waiting for the verdict. Our number got bypassed. And bypassed.... And after about 4 hours I had become accustomed to the idea of being stuck in the UK for 4 months and was compiling a rather exciting list of 'things to do in London when you're stranded'. By 5pm I was very jolly indeed, with the Edinburgh Festival, the London Jazz Festival, a whole bunch of friends to stay with and 'cooler weather' on my list.....

By 5.30pm everyone had been processed except us and a guy who looked totally strung out on something. In short it didn't look good. It looked a bit like the tail end of a party when you really should have left hours ago, particularly as there was no alcohol.

Finally we got called for our interview. Miraculously the guy interviewing us a/ clearly wanted to get home and b/ had managed to dredge up the missing information from TH's previous application 3 years ago (which the lawyers had claimed would take days to get out of the archive). Half an hour later our visas were agreed. We handed over the lawyer's credit card information to pay for the visas, and guess what - their credit card info was incorrect! What a surprise. I've never seen the TH get his credit card out so quickly.

On leaving the embassy we both immediately started smoking again. The TH out of sheer relief. Myself, because I was gutted. No 4 months in London ......and London still feels like my home.


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