This is not always as simple as it may seem as, after 2 heart attacks, most insurance companies regard me as being ready to drop dead if someone says boo to me. Statistically speaking, for most of them, I'm a risk not worth taking.
The insurance industry is also very 'fluid' so that even if I find one willing to cover me for a price just slightly less than buying the plane, that same company may refuse to cover me the following year. I think fluid is one word for it. I can think of several others.
As if that isn't enough to worry about, I now have a new problem. My 10 year non immigration visa runs out before my next trip in October and so I need a new one. This used to involve posting my passport off to the US Embassy in London, paying a small admin fee and waiting for it to be returned with a shiny new visa glued to one of its blank pages. Not any more.
Now one has to first book an interview at the Embassy and even that is quite a palaver involving an appointment call to a special hotline (which the web site warns may not be accessable on some mobile networks so you really need to use a land line) costing £1.20/min. While on the phone making the appointment, they'll charge you an $131 fee which is non refundable under ANY circumstances. Sometime before the actual appointment date at the Embassy, you have to fill in an online request form which gets sent to them and they send it back with a special barcode filled in on it and this must be printed off and presented to the Embassy staff on the day.
No form, no entry. Barcode unreadable, no entry. Any details on the form incorrect, no entry.
Speaking of no entry, the list of items that are not allowed to be taken into the Embassy makes airport security regulations seem lax. Apart from the usual items (guns, knives, sharp edged paper etc) you can't take in your ipod, PDA, cell phone and best of all, your car key fob if it is the type that allows remote entry. What ??? I'm now waiting for the news report that alerts us to an Embassy takeover when masked terrorists held armed US troops at bay with their car key fobs. I think I'll be waiting a long time.
Remember that on top of all this, I have to get to London (200 miles south of Leeds) and back and be prepared to spend 3 hours at the Embassy.
So I'm reading through all this on the web site and huffing and puffing but have no choice really as I must have a visa. Of course awful as all this preamble may be, things could still go belly up if I'm then refused a visa as the official dealing with me may not like the colour of my eyes or the fact I've a beard or that he's heard I could be thran under certain circumstances. It's all a crap shoot, as they say.
Then came the clincher. My fingerprints will be taken before the interview. Ok as an international jetsetter, I'm used to that indignity but right now, I have a potential problem with it. The website warns us that if you have a cut or blister on your index finger, this will affect your fingerprinting and so you will be refused entry.
Well guess what folks ? I have a lovely little wart slap bang in the middle of the tip of my index finger !! It's been there for a couple of months and apart from being something to pick at when I'm bored, it's not caused me any problems. It seems that's all about to change.
As it happens, I've an appointment (free and with no barcode needed) at the wart clinic tomorrow morning to try and remove the offending growth but of course I wasn't particularly worried about it leaving a permanent scar, until now. Will a scar or any sort of blemish mean I won't be allowed into the Embassy and therefore won't get my interview and therefore not get my visa and therefore not get to winter in Florida anymore ??
Never mind someone saying boo to me, I can already feel my chest tightening thanks to all this new worry. Thank you Homeland Security.
How stupid to have cause of death given as...a wart.