Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The time may have come...

Twice since the beginning of the year, South African Airways crews have been found to be smuggling large quantities of drugs. Normally this would just up the amount of teasing I come in for.

But today I heard from a cousin who also lives in the UK that, in 2007, no fewer than 6000 Chinese nationals entered the UK on genuine South African passports for which they apparently paid £5K apiece.

When I consider the lengths I have to go to to renew the passport that has been my legal right since my birth, my bile rises. I must take at least one day off work. I must pay to travel down to London. I must stand in long queues. I must provide my thumbprint and a range of other proofs that I am who I say I am and that, as such, I am entitled to a passport... which then takes 4-6 months to arrive.

Once I have this passport in my hot little hands, I have the privilege of being on the high alert list with the officials at UK Customs and Immigration. Oh yes. We're right up there with Bolivia, Nigeria and central Asia, it seems.

Perhaps the time has come to finally shrug and get a UK passport. This means taking an exam to prove that I understand the concept of Britishness. An exam, by the way, that I have tried out on British friends and colleagues, all of whom failed it!

I know I will never really be British. After 10 years in the UK, I could never regard myself as such, and British people will never regard me as such. There are those among them who never miss an opportunity to say so. For this reason, I always thought it would be somewhat hypocritical to get a British passport. I am now rapidly approaching the 'what the heck' stage.

Sigh

2 comments:

Nicolaa said...

You have my sympathy, years ago when we moved back from Turkey we did things the long and legitimate way in spite of numerous alternative offers which I won't repeat here.

One funny time was on first visit to the UK when Mustafa's Turkish passport ended up in the washing machine, (prior to his confirmation of dual nationality so didn't have a UK one then) but it did make both the UK police and the Turkish consulate laugh. I don't know if it is still the same law in Turkey itself - but if you ever lost your passport you wouldn't be entitled to another one - ever, it was considered that if you didn't consider it significant enough to take care of it then you were better off without one - or words to that effect !

However in this case they were more sympathetic - it was still vaguely readable :-)

I think it was last year someone in the Telegraph did the UK citizenship test and failed miserably and I believe that the majority of us would without prior study - some of the questions are things that I certainly don't remember covering - but it is interesting though ! Best wishes with whatever you decide to do.

Karyn Romeis said...

@nicolaa It's astonishing that, if you're prepared to compromise your principles, you can have whatever document you like. But try to be honest and upright about it, and you get the third degree. Treating the bona fide applicants like criminals isn't going to make the slightest dent in the number of illegal documents out there. In fact, it may just encourage a few of the borderline cases to jump the fence next time around!