My comment in yesterday’s review about ‘free’ travelling for more people – preferably for all people – is something I have long believed in. OK, so ‘opening’ your borders might allow a few undesirables in, but I reckon they get in anyway. It’s the desirables who are kept out, because someone is under the impression their own lives will be better and safer for it.
Look at me! Or rather, look at the United Kingdom! Is it any worse off for having allowed me entry? I’d like to think not. Although they did their utmost best even towards a ‘nice white witch’ like me.
I liked this country, and I still do. I used to come here as often as I could squeeze the piggybank for the price of another ticket. The last few years before the Resident IT Consultant made me legal I used to come about six times a year. And that involved increasingly closer contact with the black book.
The immigration officers used to have this enormous family bible type of book next to them, into which they looked without fail whenever I attempted to enter the country. Black book = blacklist. Obvious. They always seemed disappointed I wasn’t in it.
However attractive you might think it is to be able to speak a foreign (to you) language well, it’s not good under such circumstances. It indicates you have spent too much time somewhere you aren’t supposed to have been. Hence the suspicion.
The way the book was used was similar to how Santa’s helper in Disney’s film checked if you were allowed what you had asked for in your letter to FC. Eat enough spinach, and you’re OK. I love spinach, and that will be why they always let me in.
I thought nothing of it. I knew they had to do their bit, and I did my bit. Then we could both be satisfied. I must have told the Resident IT Consultant about the black book, as you do when you run out of more meaningful things to base a conversation on.
He probably thought nothing of it, until some 15 years into my legality, when he happened to consult for the Home Office. He mentioned the black book and my experience with it. ‘How do you even know about the book?’ they asked.
It seems the big black book is/was a secret. (Like the Post Office Tower, I suppose.) You’re not meant to know it’s there, and the reading of it could have done with more inconspicuousness applied. Whether they didn’t know, were unable to or simply couldn’t be bothered, I have no idea. But large family bibles are hard to hide under your desk.