Sunday, June 08, 2008

I have just been savaged by UK customs at Heathrow Airport. My nose is bleeding so typing is difficult; I will be try to be brief.

I was taken aside and interrogated for over an hour. They asked me questions about my travel itinerary, and then existential questions about my life. They rang Sarah and interrogated her too.

The questions came thick and fast.

"You don't appear to live anywhere at all."
"Do you own any property?" "A car?" "Any assets at all?" "Why not?"
"Do you have a family?" "No siblings? None?"
"Why did you leave your job?"
"Why are you always travelling?"
"You overstayed your visa in France - no don't argue, you did. You are an overstayer."
"What exactly is your plan in life?"
"You can't expect us to believe what you're saying. Any reasonable person would do x, y or z - not what you're doing."
"You haven't been honest with us. We know you're lying, so you might as well tell us the truth."

Near the end it felt like I was in a really hostile session with an unusually aggressive life coach. Or a disappointed older relative.

After it looked like I was going to be forcibly put on a plane to New Zealand they finally let me through, upon concluding that I was not conducting my life like a reasonable person because I am not a reasonable person. "Free spirit" was the term they used.

But I feel a bit down in spirit as a result of this afternoon. It's not the UK authorities I mind about - it's the French. I now know that the fact that I overstayed my visa is registered somewhere in the system (I thought, because of a certain technality, that it was not). Will I be turned back at the French border?


At 7:37 am, Anonymous Conor said...

Conform! Damn you! Why are you not conforming?

At 1:43 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You could try entering France by land.

At 5:22 am, Blogger Ben.H said...

Damn you free spirits! Good luck with the French officials.

At 9:22 am, Anonymous Chantal said...

I agree with anonymous, your best to go overland to avoid further interogation! Go forth free spirit!

At 3:07 am, Blogger The Rantolotl said...

but where on earth does the blood nose fit into all this?

At 7:04 am, Anonymous Ran said...

That's what you get for landing in the United Kingdom of Bastards. Hopefully the French will be more forgiving.

At 12:54 am, Blogger Xavier said...

I have some doubts about the forgiving willingness of frenchs bureaucrats/lawmakers/lawenforcers.. The trend here is "do not forget to hate others, and inform us if you see any unattended luggage..", be attentive to ones that don't have trendy projects or mainstreams ways of life
(maybe some s are misplaced, sorry)
Maybe you should ask a lawyer first, free spirit, just to know what not to say.


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