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International incident, narrowly averted


Keys in the right pocket, knife in the left. I’ve done it that was since I were a wee slip of a lass of a weasel. It’s the things you don’t even know to worry about that get you when you’re a ferriner.

There was an airport-style security screening going into the building. The look on dude’s face when my NRA Commemorative Charlton Heston Three-Bladed Case Knife tumbled out told me “I’m going to have to talk to my supervisor” wasn’t a good thing. They huddled over my knife and hooted, like those monkeys in 2001.

It’s a perfectly ordinary American-street-legal pocket knife, but Supervisor told me if I were stopped for some reason by the police, I would automatically be arrested. It’s a knife. And it’s sharp — something a knife in London is not allowed to be. (I bit my tongue before I blurted, “my daddy always told me it’s the dull knife that’s dangerous”).

As it was under three inches and it wasn’t a locking blade (“my daddy always told me that a locking blade is a safety feature”), he wasn’t obliged to call the cops on me himself. But he did give me a talking-to and confiscated my deadly weapon while I was in the building.

It’s no joke. Under new rules, an arrest — even a small and stupid one — could get me kicked out of the country and barred from coming back.

Yes, today’s the day we had to drive up to sunny Croydon (think Queens) to the UK Border Agency in the aptly named Lunar House, so’s I could be biometrificated for my next round of alien papers. I left Uncle B outside. His tolerance for bullshit is extremely low. After I was disarmed, I went to the third floor to a great long room full of hundreds of green plastic chairs bolted to the floor and took a number. My number was 523.

The interview and biometrics were pretty prompt, but I waited for an hour and half while my fingerprints were checked against the ones I gave in November for my fiancée visa. They checked. I’m not approved for visa #2 yet, but it’s one more step in that direction.

I found Uncle B outside, looking splotchy and apoplectic after two hours of standing on a street corner in Croydon. Poor bastard. I didn’t have the heart to tell him beforehand he’d be the only white man in all of South London.

And my fingerprints? “In the permanent database” the helpful brochure informs me. Isn’t that swell?

May 19, 2009 — 6:56 pm
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