Section 138 visits the Consulate
‘Not a thing to worry about’. Compared to the intensity of his previous visa application this augured well for his trip. He drove at a more leisurely pace for the remainder of his journey glad to feel the stress subside.
At odds with the opulent and cultured interiors conveyed on the Consulate website, his destination turned out to be an expressionless pre-fabricated structure on an industrial estate outside Hull; it was nestled comfortably amongst car showrooms, packaging, haulage and manufacturing businesses …all contained in nondescript modern units. He had driven up and down the utilitarian street searching for something more exotic but to no avail. Though a somewhat disappointing site it was, he admitted, more than compensated for by the entry into Hull itself. His pulse had quickened as he had crossed over the vast span of the Humber bridge just minutes before, an engineering feat par-excellence. With leaving in mind, and already sensing England’s shores receding from him, now that the countdown had begun, Vernon vowed to return and pay homage to the bridge when his business was done.
As he parked the cabriolet he saw that the building opposite was still under construction. Entering the Consulate he was immediately aware that it was well designed, like a demure Timex, classic in its functional understatement. The door furniture was solid and expensive and each space made the most of available light; where there was carpeting it muffled the noise in the room.
He stood alone in reception trying to anticipate what kind of Siamese metamorphosis the English language was about to undergo and rang the bell for assistance. Almost immediately and out of nowhere, like the emergence of Punch at a seaside booth, a large red-bearded Canadian appeared and took his application documents, acknowledging him in a deep resonant voice.
“Hey buddy. Make y’self at home. Browse the leaflets, they’re mighty helpful… oh and get y’self a coffee too. Won’t be long with this; we’re not exactly swept off our feet presently”
He only had sufficient time to locate the coffee machine, fill his cup with the promisingly dark brew and commence reading the first of the brochures when the friendly giant returned.
“Alrighty then. That seems to be in order have a good stay.” And that was that. That was that. If the Indian continent had a monopoly on bureaucracy then perhaps the Thai had cornered the market in smiling efficiency; for the sake of his adventure he hoped so.