Muchas gracias a quienes me han escrito y me han dejado sus cometarios de apoyo. ¡Claro que sirven de algo! Me levantan el ánimo y eso es lo que importa. Perdonen que continúe con esta aventura en inglés; con toda esta pesadilla no me da tiempo de contarla también en español, y ya que la empecé en inglés, pues así sigo. No se preocupen: mis próximos blogs volverán a su estado bilingüe.
Thank you very much to those who have written to me or left their support comments here. Of course they are useful! They cheer me up!
The saga continues:
Yesterday morning I left home at 6:20 am, on my way to the Immigration Advice Office (a charity, independent from the Government) that opens at 9:00 o’clock. I went to Borough tube station, the one with a terrifyingly loud alarm on the lifts that makes you think the ultimate terrorist attack is on its way. Not good for my nerves.
I came out of the station thinking that at least I was in Little Dorrit’s territory, though if I think about it, I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, given the circumstances.
I needed to go to number 190 in Great Dover Street. The first number I saw was 4, so I assumed I had to walk to the opposite end of the street, and there I go. I passed endless estates with no numbers on them, and no sign whatsoever of the Immigration Advice Office. I started to go frantic. The thing is: I had forgotten how idiosyncratic the numbering of streets can be in London. It usually makes this funny U-turn, so actually 190 was exactly in front of number 4, where I had started.
When I realised I had been unforgivably imbecile again, I rushed back in a panic, thinking that by now I would have the last place in the queue and wouldn’t be seen that day. But there was not a soul (it was by then 7:48), so it was just as well that I walked up and down the street like a lunatic; it kept me warm and busy in that ungodly hour.
Oh well, things were not that bad then. I went to the café next to the station, the same one where I started one of my exhaustive Dickens walks for my London book a while ago. By then I was starving so I ordered a croissant and a coffee. The macchiato looked spectacular to me and beautifully served, a warm and friendly salute. The croissant, though, was one of those huge and elastic monstrosities that remind you that this is not exactly Paris.
I did not even feel guilty to have a croissant; I had walked so much in the cold and shivering with anxiety, that I’m sure it won’t make me inordinately fat. I ate only half, anyway. Its dimensions scared me.
I thought that I had been in despair a few minutes before, in the roundabout at the other end of the street, thinking: “This place doesn’t exist either!”, and that now I had found it, with no queues, and had even time for enjoying my favourite activity: taking notes and reading in a café, feeling almost cheerful.
And I didn’t even have to go to Croydon! As I was saying last Saturday to our beloved Quentin (the other witness to our wedding, by the way), everybody knows Croydon is one of the deepest circles of hell. There are even some Doré engravings that show that place with the ominous name, Lunar House.
Life being so unpredictable, would I be leaving the office in tears again, a couple of hours later? What do you think, dear reader?
I dashed out shortly after anyway, just in case a mile length queue had suddenly appeared, but there was only another lady. We waited standing for nearly an hour, nothing good for hurting bones, but at least I was reading Osamu Dazai’s short stories (Quentin’s birthday present). I finished reading “On The Question of Apparel”, that had me laughing in the tube earlier that morning. His eye for absurdity was very handy just then. It was a bit hard to read because there were some road-works just opposite, but what the hell, it could be worse. It could be Croydon.
A couple from Nigeria arrived with a very peculiar problem. They were not accepting their permit to marry because they insisted their case was one of a same sex couple cohabiting, even though they were so very obviously male and female. We had to laugh.
This Immigration Advice charity turned out to be superb. To start with, it’s a clean and welcoming office, and not the refugee-camp Croydon-like scenario I was expecting. The staff is all extraordinarily kind and understanding. They struggled hard to find me an urgent appointment with a lawyer for today at 3:00 o’clock, because they say the case is very unusual and we should hurry, so I’m still in suspense till that time.
Our bad luck had it that my payments and the loan money finally came through just now, because our bank accounts of this month show a rather unusual reality. Had we been there just one month ago the service would have been free, but now I had to pay 100 quid. I don’t know if you find the humour in it. I do. It’s a very gloomy and macabre kind of humour, but I find it. This is the kind of completely absurd situation that makes me wonder if someone has a spell on me, but I try hard to go back to rationality and stop recurring to magical thinking.
I got back home by bus, and as I saw the City workers in their smart dark suits hurrying around the Bank of England building, I even thought I could be far worse-off and be one of them. Am I not amazing?
I was in very bad pain when I finally got home. I immediately called the Law Enforcement thing and finally they know where my passport is, though they still can’t open the file to see if my Marriage Certificate is there. Yet they told me not to worry: it certainly is not lost. My question is: that certificate is not only mine; it’s Mark’s as well. What right do they have to retain it?
This person informed me, to my qualified relief, that I simply made a mistake in my application. That if I go out I wouldn’t have to have any trouble to come back, but he believes I do have to go out, and not to any other European country. I have to go to Mexico and pay for the whole visa all over again. He says it’s only a procedure matter. I don’t think it’s that simple; a lightning trip to Mexico is certainly not simply “procedure” to me.
Then I tried to drink some water and realised we had no water at all in the flat. You guessed: I started crying, to make do for the lack of liquids. It’s not that I don’t want to go to Mexico and see my friends and my godson. It’s just that I don’t want to go like this, spending all our so hardly-earned money this way, and furthermore I can’t see how can I organise a trip like that, and the finances included, in a few days, feeling so very ill.
So this is what a blog is, then? Letting the steam out? Is it an embarrassing thing to do, a sign of how insane and neurotic our society has become?
It’s probably a very bad thing. At least we have running water again.