Everyone has a story about sifting their way for beaurocratic boundries and meeting jobs worths at every corner. I have a particular story today which has appalled me.
A extremely good friend of mine, Ashley, was making her way to the UK yesterday from Iceland. Ashley is American and was taking advantage of our countries agreement that people can come and visit for 6 months. She was coming to see friends, see the country and play a bit of football.
Ashley is a great footballer, and this is the reason she is in Iceland, and on the evening she was set to play in Watford ladies on the evening, hoping to impress.
What she didn't bank on was UK immigration getting in the way.
She had come over with no clear plan of how long she was to be here, she hadn't booked a retrun flight. Possibly a mistake, but us Brits are famous for our tolerance so surely somebody would be able to point her in the right direction or at least find a good solution.
Instead, on her first time visiting our fair country, she was treated in a way that was simply out of order by a mean officer and bunged into a holding cell for 27 hours with a metal bench to sleep on.
The reason? She had apparently been out of her country for too long. According to the officer, she hadn't been home since the 14th December. So it is somewhat miraculous that she was on a flight from Boston, Massachusetts, USA to Reykjavik. It wasn't marked in her passport, but there must be someway of checking, what with everything being a matter of record. She brought this up, and was told "It's not my problem."
Well I am sorry Sonia it is your problem. That is your job. Check it out, check if she is telling the truth. Don't just bin her as a liar!
Ashley is no terrorist, I met her when we were work colleagues. Our jobs were to look after children. So somebody who works with children and is one of the friendliest people you will ever meet, was stuck in a holding cell for 27 hours without even a blanket to sleep with.
In that time, Ashley made friends with the other immigration officials there, they offered her their contact details, why? Because she is a good person. A good person who, accidently (and with in the merky waters of visas I know from experience nothing is totally explained), fell foul of the rules, but a simple check would have provided answers.
I know we live in a time of high alert, under the threat of terrorism and illegal immigration (if that even is a threat) and I am not pointing fingers or blaming people, but surely more could have been done to help, or at least make her evening more comfortable.
Its days like today that make me proud to be British! I can't wait to leave.