(Drawing by Dr. Ruth M. Heron)
This is my friend, Chokolat!
(Guess what's on his mind.)
This small brown moose joined forces with me
as I was winging it back from London's Heathrow airport
after being detained at Terminal 2 for five days.
I was on my 50th birthday world tour with a through ticket to Delhi,
and booked on the Clive James show
until I encountered "the immigration woman from hell".
Ms. Smith (what else would her name would be?) put me on a plane back to Toronto
despite the fact that I could have qualified for a British Passport had I applied.
The Canadian Airlines crew were so supportive that I will never be able to thank them enough...
even though I was despatched baggage class, they gave me first class meals and service,
as well as introducing me to Chokolat.
Thanks you beautiful people and a pox on Ms. Smith ,
whose country will never benefit from the ten thousand dollars I would have spent while I was in the Uk.
Ms. Smith also deprived me of the chance to see my dying aunt Shiela, who has since passed away.
All I can say is that my Canadian & Australian Passports both entitled me to an automatic six month visa, but this lady was scared I was going to work while I was there. I warn you, never make enquiries or ask for clarification on any immigration matter until you are past the post with your passport stamped. I guess it is a matter of interpretation, but the stamp they put in my passports now prevents me from gaining entry into any European country without special application and severe scrutiny. Ms Smith, you are not my cup of tea, and, as a result of your actions, I feel distinctly prejudiced against employing anyone from Britain seeking work here in Australia.
Tit for tat, I'm afraid!
But Chokolat has been a good friend to me
and I haven't met anyone who doesn't like to hold him.
Upon arriving back in Ottawa, I complained to both Australian and British embassies
which produced some interesting results and findings.
There had been an escalating immigration war between Australia and the UK at that time.
I was obviously a casualty of their argument.
Also the UK Consulate General in Ottawa appologised to me personally and re-stamped both my Australian and Canadian passports with privilidged admissibility, a one year visa and a return ticket to London.
Unfortunately my enthusiasm for seeing Ms. Smith (and anyone British) again had dwindled and could not be re-kindled...besides, Le Festival de Jazz de Montreal beckoned and I ended up having the time of my life with my Quebecois friend Marte Morin.
(I can happily report that she had everything over plain Ms. Smith).
The next time I arrived at Heath Row, my immigration officer perused my passport, scanned the comments on screen, raised his eyebrows, gave me a 12 month visa and welcomed me to the UK with a broad smile.
Unfortunately I did not see Ms. Smith to proffer her a punnet of rasperries.
(Perhaps for the good of all she is employed elsewhere.)