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It may be, perhaps, that I commented in less than complimentary terms recently about the US Immigration Services – specifically, in relation to their online application process.

Well, decency requires that I report on my rather more favourable experience today, at the American Consulate in Sandton – a campus, incidentally, that does make one wonder whether it was designed with a downtown Baghdad setting, rather than Johannesburg in mind. But, I said I would be nice, so no more of that!

Fact is, the whole process was remarkably efficient and dare I say, civil and courteous if not exactly friendly. My appointment was for 9.00 am; I was in there by 8.30, and done by 9.20.

And the highlight, to my surprise, was the ‘interview’ – a few comments exchanged through a thick plate glass counter window with a pleasant young woman, who noted that I had been to the US quite a few times before. Yes I had, I replied – and I lived in the States for a year, on a Fellowship. She smiled and gave me a ticket to take to DHL, for the delivery of my passport, and I was so taken aback that I had already taken several steps away before I remembered the all-important question.

‘Excuse me,’ I said, ‘I’m not sure if I’m allowed to do this, but I need to ask. You might have noticed I had a ten-year visa before; I am marrying a Canadian in December, and she has lots of family in the US – I expect we will be in and out of the States quite a bit in the next few years.’

She shot me a genuinely warm smile. ‘You’ll get the same visa as last time,’ she said.

‘That’s wonderful!’ I answered, and I meant it.

Driving back I thought, the next time I need a visa to visit the US, I will be 66. Jeez – that’s a thought to make one pause and really think! And here’s another. The last time I need a US visa, assuming I get Canadian citizenship, could be 5 years’ hence. 61, not 66. Proof positive, if proof were needed, that Canada is bound to make me feel a whole lot younger.

And finally, in not-the-nine-o’clock news, England didn’t just lose yesterday, they were donner-und-blitzened by the entire *&^!@! Luftwaffe. Check it out!

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