Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Sitting in Putney Bridge

I am writing this as I eat a very spicy Cajun chicken panini, washed down with a ginger beer. I am hoping the spice with sweat out the last of my cold so that I am not a coughing, spluttering mess tomorrow. It's all very calm now, 8 hours ago things were not this calm.

10.30pm Singapore time: I board the plane in almost total silence as this blasted cold had blocked my head up on the planes descent. Once in the air, my ears popped beautifully and I could hear as normal. No extra roomy leg row for me this time, just your average cattle class seat near the middle back. I whiled away the 13.5 hours through a mixture of dozing and reading a book I had accidentally downloaded onto my kobo. I had a small portion of one of my sleeping pills which afforded me a couple of hours sleep, enough with which to function. 

5.30am London time: The descent again was dreadful and once again plunged me into silence. I took my time meandering my way through Heathrow in the hopes some of my hearing would come back before dealing with customs. Luckily, some of it did, allowing me hearing enough to learn that I could not enter the country. 

I finally made it to the front of the line and presented my customs card and my two passports, one valid and one with my visa. The gentleman was confused and spent much time punching his keyboard and asking me the same questions worded in different ways. I began to panic. He filled out a form saying he is taking my passport, to sit "over there" while he makes some phone calls. 

I join one other gentleman in no-mans-land and are soon joined by 3 others. I quietly descend into a state of panic, not caring how much it would cost and checking my emails, taking screen grabs of anything useful. I Facebook Alistair who calls BritBound for me, who on their end begin to look up why I would be rejected. Roughly 45 minutes pass and I am oscillating between what to do if I am let in and what to do if I am not. I come to terms with the fact that i will be sent home before this all begins, and that I'm 
Simply not cut out for adventure. 

Time passes. Eventually the gentleman returns and takes a casual seat next to me. "Your visa is ok," he says, "but you must transfer it to your valid passport." My deafness from the descent prevents me from getting too hopeful and I ask him to repeat himself. He is patient and gives me instructions on how to transfer and who to call saying he had never seen anything like it, then standing, he lead me through the gate and on my way. 

I quickly cross the threshold lest they change their minds and stand, trying not to hyperventilate. I gather my things and my wits and continue on to collect my baggage. 

2.18pm London time: So here I sit, near Fulham, eating my spicy panini and ginger beer. I made my way to the lovely Yvette and Josh's house who are kindly
Putting me up for a few days in Ealing. I have caught a number of different tubes on different lines all without incident (touch wood). The tube is a lot easier on comparison to the subway on Tokyo, let me tell you! Not least that everything is in English. I let myself into my home for the next few days to find a bed made, a little pack of maps for London and things to go and see. I am very very grateful and almost weep at the security of it. 

After a much, much needed shower and a nap, I brave the tube again (two different lines, even! And Wimbledon traffic) to head to BritBound to collect my SIM and meet the team. 

Now back to Ealing to prepare for my job interview tomorrow. Wish me luck Nd keep your fingers and toes crossed for me!