Thursday, June 21, 2007

Live from the Village

Senator Reefer
Pa Doob on the campaign
trail back in Canberra
Sorry to be parochial, but for those who know the code to the various pseudonyms on this blog there has been double good news from Base Camp this week, so a brief update on news from
the Village.

Firstly, Doktor Doob has resolved his little local difficulty with the immigration authorities and so will not be deserting us for the sunnier climes of Queensland just yet. His troubles stemmed from straying on the wrong side of the wrong side of the law once too often in crimes of what could kindly be called 'youthful exuberance' whilst sticking strictly to the law on such matters as paying taxes, leading to a threat of a one-way ticket home. The Doktor was clearly foolish. Any idiot knows that if you are going to come to work in the UK and ignore the latter class of responsibility you get virtual carte blanche on the latter. After all, why should the immigration authorities waste time tracking down wholly illegal workers when there are easier, and as they are often as not, white commonwealth citizens, less politically sensitive targets to aim at.

Doktor Doob isn't the first such case that has crossed my path, far from it. The previous one was on a flight out of Heathrow, where I ended up sat next to a South African web designer who received his passport back from the Home Office, via the stewardess, once we were back in international airspace. Ok, he had overstayed his visa by five years or so, but it was clearly an oversight - he'd found the time to get married here, set up a home and been promoted to an important position within a successful company. It would take him a few weeks to sort out the paperwork but I'm sure he's back with his family in Kent now.

Let me say I have not the slightest problem with immigration, asylum, or even economic migration. What does concern me is that yes, people should play the rules, but also the authorities should be even handed in the tolerance they show to those who fall foul of them. We hear many stories we hear of the Home Office's difficulties in deporting those who never had a legitimate claim to stay, as various lobby groups weigh in their behalf. I do wonder if some of the bald figures for improvements in the number of deportations that are quoted enthusiastically quoted by Ministers are underpinned by going for the low-hanging fruit, whose basically productive, lawful lifestyle makes them easy to track down.

Only last week a story appeared on a couple of major American news sites about an 80 year old Detroit-born 'American' woman who returned to Scotland with her Scottish mother at the age of two, and later married and settled down without completing some of the paperwork. 78 years later, some po-faced bureaucrat out of the goodness of his heart has kindly decided to charge her the best part of £1000 for a temporary visa, rather than see her returned to a country where never had any roots and which for her wasn't even a distant memory, while her claim to remain in the UK was considered. It didn't cause a ripple here, after all as an 'American' (boo hiss) she could hardly expect the various immigrants' rights lobbies to wade in on her behalf.

I'm not really accusing the Home Office, or anyone else, of some kind of reverse discrimination. I do wonder though if they are falling into the 'speed camera trap' where the fact that something pops up effortlessly out of a computer and is easily prosecutable places it unnaturally high up the priority list, regardless of the real importance of action on the case in hand. Not all bad driving is related to speeding, and wartime brides and antipodeans overstretching the bounds of their young persons visas are a pretty minor issue in the immigration issue.

Oh, and the second bit of good news. Base Camp has extended Thursday night opening until midnight. The Village has generally seen good and responsible use made of the new licensing arrangements. Ok, there was a major ruck** here a week ago, but it was all over well before eleven and it was a real exception in what is a well run pub especially considering the very mixed clientele, usually self policing is the order of the day or you're out. The extra hour places brings it on a par with the Mother Ship*, which means there is another day of the week where I can avoid its ever diminishing charms and the very variable ones of its manager in favour of somewhere with a bit more life and less of a Toxic Dwarf infestation.

Ten minutes down there to use their free Wi-Fi there to attach a couple of images to, and post this while necking off a half of Guinness is the best they will get out of me tonight. For now it's off to HQ which suffers from none of the defects of the Mother Ship or Base Camp, but unfortunately serves nothing I like to drink to a lot of people I like to drink with.

Update, just after posting:

*I should be fair to the Mother Ship, there is always World of Pikeys, Junior Pikeyland, the Holiday Inn Lobby Bar and the Tappas-free Tappas Emporium, but I have the sense not go to these places, so it does still sit at the bottom of my personal pub ratings at the moment.

**Doktor Doob, the tales of your heroism during this battle are developing a bit of a fisherman's tale smell to them.

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