OR ARRIVING IN THE UK TO BE HERDED TO BUSES BY GUARDS TO ‘CHECK IN’ AT DYSTOPIAN PRISON CAMP.
Nobody had any idea of the humiliation and horror that was forthcoming. After the half-empty BA flight where most of the people were connecting onto Spain, just three of us remained to undergo a process more akin to arriving into a communist country rather than the UK as we used to know it.
I thought immigration would be bad but no. A lovely lady checked my passport and saw me with tears quivering lip and all the signs of a person under serious duress and barely cared about anything except to say to me I MUST speak to the medical team as soon as I arrived at the hotel. THEY would have to sort out the medical exemption but I needed to do that immediately. I walked through the hushed section of the airport only meant for the dirty people from the red countries. While in the queue a group just in from Egypt stood dazed and shaky from the strange new treatment of British citizens. I didn’t see them again and after walking down the strange maze was ushered on until outside and was allocated a bus. Tears again. Allowed a cigarette in a designated area with a guard. This was a sign of things to come.
Back on the bus I saw one of our unholy trio from the Cancun flight, he told me the other guy went on another bus, I really don’t know what that meant but it rested uneasily with me. Crying again I heard an Irish chap on his phone desperately cancelling his hotel in Ireland, he had been snagged by red tape and was told he had to quarantine in London. His plans scuppered on what was a legitimate transfer made him nearly cry too.
In the bleak grey of the day we drove first to a hammer house of horrors hotel where I had seen their exercise yard. It was the small carpark with cones placed in a small circuit and the people walking in small miserable circles. Some people on the bus had their passports taken and then chop chop off the bus to their dismal destiny. A quick stop at the smart Radisson then round again in ever decreasing circles to the Holiday Inn.
Tears flowing and in full panic mode I demanded the chief medic. I took out all my carefully printed material of proof that I should be exempted on medical grounds. Yeah right was this guy giving a shit and I started hyperventilating as I saw this just a trick to get you to the prison, here they were clearly going to throw away the key. I demanded to see what they call the liaison officer and he arrived promptly for I, by then, was making a scene. Paul, a nice enough chap poured cold water on my hopes and expectations, if I had been denied once then it was extremely unlikely that they would budge. That, as they say, basically was that. The introduction man came to me then flustered by my lack of mask and having to repeat his foolish introduction to the rules, gave me a mountain of paperwork and the menu cards for a sinister week.
Paperwork done, still crying I was led to the lift area where there is a desk for check in and out each time you want to go outside. You get an escort for each tiny section and when up on the seventh floor another desk to check in and out to as they announce your arrival with walkie talkies. No contact is allowed and your meals are delivered to your door in a paper bag for breakfast and lunch and under a cloche for the evening meal at a pretence that your £2,500 wasn’t for nothing. You’re in luck if you like curry for that is mostly what you get.
I stepped into my relatively posh prison cell and that was it. Alone, jet lagged, dumbfounded and not even angry……yet.
I refused to unpack my case just put on my ‘pyjamas’ and sat for an hour head in hands on the bed. I had witnessed now how depraved our once decent UK had become, I had counted forty guards on the ground floor alone that were in my range of vision. All of them seemed to come from India and indeed used various Indian dialects when speaking to each other. Now in my book I’ve seen the ridiculous lengths the government have gone to about diversity in a workplace,where was it now?
The guy on the bus said we were ‘lucky’ as it had been very busy and there had been an eleven hour wait at the airport the other day as India had been changed to a red status. Yes I was so fucking lucky. This swaggering bloke was loving his new found power and the grabbing of passports and putting them all together was surely more of a risk of cross infection than all of us just going home. Our dirty old passports from all over the red globe had been thoroughly squished together to make a cocktail of microbes. The system is clearly an ass.
Anyway back to my room and the insidious claustrophobia that ensued. I didn’t realise it but this would be my best day for storm clouds were looming. I emailed my doc for my meds and that was basically all I could do. I wanted a drink but THEY DON’T TAKE CASH, and my bank was sending me my new card in the post to my flat. No drink and more liberties being stripped from me by the second. Ironically my bank had reinstalled my online banking and Google pay greedily came up on my phone, so I called down just to be told that they don’t accept that either.
Royally screwed I ate a mouthful of something hideous and luckily slept the sleep of the innocent, or just really tired.
OVER AND OUT FROM A DEAD OLD BIRD
Soho art offices and my sculpture in London, then my old film work amd fashion modelling. Check it out.