Ok the day BEFORE the big day has finally arrived but as I won't be here to blog on the big day, this will have to do.
My wart has gone, my photo has been taken, my paperwork is complete (I hope) and I'm off down to the US Embassy in London tomorrow to renew my tourist visa. Yes I know it should be no big deal and I should be in and out in no time but.............
My last interview of any kind was in 1973 when I came to Leeds to apply for an IT job with ASDA so I'm not exactly used to this kind of thing. Hey it's STILL an interview ok ! I'll be nervous. The outcome is pretty vital to me as without my winters in Florida, I'll wither and die. Or just be very cold like everyone else in the UK from Nov - April. I'll also have to endure the Christmas No.1. and reruns of the Only Fools & Horses Christmas special.
No, I MUST get that visa !!
So I got up at the crack of 7:30am to get my body used to this time of day and it doesn't like it. I'm not that impressed with it myself. I have to get up at an even crackier 5am tomorrow to get a 6am taxi to Leeds Coach Station to catch the 6:40am coach to London. That should get me (well us really as the very kind Daphne is going with me so that I can be naked going into the embassy) to London with plenty of time to walk the 300 yds to the embassy ! I'm NOT risking being late due to roadwords or leaves on the road.
Going naked might be slightly exaggerating things a bit but they really tell you that to get into the embassy, you must almost BE naked. No bags or backpacks or even slightly baggy trousers. No sharp toffees, ingrowing toenails or pointy teeth. No electronic devices like an mp3, a gps, a phone, a remote entry key fob or a pace maker. Not even a Harrod's bag.
Like I said, naked.
As the coach home doesn't leave till 7pm, potentially giving us several hours in the big city, I will be taking my camera. And that's where Daphne comes in. As well as providing non stop commentary on every tree, shrub and flower we pass on the way there and back, she'll be my wing man......or woman and hold my bits and pieces, so to speak, so that I can enter the embassy sans everything except my paperwork.
Visiting America for longer than 3 months at a time is a costly and time consuming business. Over £100 already and I've not left the house. Despite having half a rain forest of paperwork as proof of who I am (having a Twitter account now should help enormously) and that I'll really be coming back to the UK each time, they could still refuse my application for any number of reasons, none of which I have any power over.
The agent conducting the interview may have swine flu and be feeling miserable. He/she might not like people with beards. My aunt Mary failed that way. In my nervousness I might talk too much and admit I have a secret wife and 5 children in El Paso. They might just not like the fact that I can go for 6 months every year even though that's exactly what the visa allows me to do.
I can't do anything about these things. The kids need me after all.
I'll probably not sleep a wink tonight. I certainly won't sleep a wink on the coach with Daphne rabbiting on about wild lupins and the liklihood of seeing a palm tree in Leicestershire. Oh great. I'll probably be fast asleep just as my name is called for the interview and as Daphne will be outside holding my junk (cough, cough), I'll still be in there when they come to lock up for the day.
Then I'll be arrested for being on US soil without a visa !! Jeez.
So fingers crossed that the nice friendly people at the embassy will realise I'm a nice friendly Brit who just wants to be a warm tourist in Florida every winter. It's not much to ask for and our countries do have a 'special relationship' after all.
I'm hoping for some sign of it tomorrow but just in case, I've kept the receipt for the sun cream.
And if my next blog comes from Guantanamo, you'll know that I've spoken out of turn during the interview and it's not because I've gone there using my nice new visa.