The news from the Rock is not good. As an attempt to create even more unemployment the Spanish government has obstructed border crossings from Gibraltar. Now motorists have to wait up to five hours and there is talk of a punitive £43 tax on all those crossing the border.
But Spain is not the only country which makes you wait at the border and forces you to pay extra. I have just spent the best part of a day wrestling as only Milton could ,with the intricacies of an on line visa application to the country we so proudly called the jewel of the Empire. The Indian visa application could easily become a board game for insomniacs.
First there are the hilarious question s about where your mother and father were born. Both long since dead, how can I find out? Then there is the obsession about whether my grandparents had anything to do with Pakistan and or did they change nationality. Should I tell that in 1947 my great uncle was CinC of their army? I don’t think so,. Then they want to know how many countries I have visited in the last ten years. I put down a few, will they check, is this what all these spy leaks are about, the US satellites know where I have been, will they share the information with the Indians?
So I fill in the form. It says fine but my name is not down as Thompson. F***. So I decide to fill it in again. Hours pass in anger and bitter frustration, hot tears of despair cascade down my sun burnt cheeks. Its done, Oh Sh**. I put down my trip was starting in August not September. Third time round I am going blind, I will start begging on the streets, my piece of card board will say “Blinded by Hindu bureaucracy”. I finish ,its done.
Now I have to try and make an appointment taking ,my filled in form,photo and wallet to a visa wallah.. Something is wrong with the system. They wont let me make an appointment. Ten times I try. Ten times they send me back to Go. Daylight falters ,the evening descends, while others frequent the bars , talk to strange women and start new and exciting lives, I am stuck trying to get a visa to a country where cows shit in the main street and 40 per cent are illiterate.
I do, as all the best quiz shows allow, phone a friend. He says try again. I try but the will if not to live.at ;east to travel is fast disappearing. I would rather be stuck in a traffic jam at the Gibraltar crossing. I am told you can go to specialist “visa consultant”. I phone one up,Waseem Aslam. His office is near the Marie Stopes,where I had my snip by Warren Street. What a gent, great Celtic tattoos , a fine pair of shorts and he knows how to turn a crisis into a bus stop.
He charges £42, a quid less than the Spanish government. Globalisation? You know it makes sense.