If you plan to visit the US for professional purposes you have to get yourself an I-Visa. That costs $131. Then to apply you have to queue up outside the US Embassy at 24 Grosvenor Square, even in “inclement weather”, as it says on the forms. It’s far too much trouble to construct a nice little al fresco shelter in the event of a hail storm. Force 8 gale, madam? Just stand over there under those trees so the leaves fall like confetti on your hairstyle. I imagine I’m at a forest wedding, a sylvan union after Robin Hood. The fantasy gets me through the moments. Never mind.
Then once inside and three hours later (if you’re lucky) you get a blue form which you take to the SMS courier desk where prices to return your passport and forms and dispatch your visa start at £14. Ah, how I love the land of the Fee. A man behind me starts making rooster noises. He's playing with his tot-brat, but the girl dealing with my courier order thinks there's a rooster on the premises and asks how did that get in. I explain to her what's making the rooster sound - oh, and by the way, you've misspelt my name. I ask: "Do roosters need a visa, too?"
(Incidentally, although you’re told not to bring mobiles to the embassy – your interview will be cancelled if you do, that’s what it says on the forms – when you get there transparent bags are provided for your mobiles which you can carry about as you might a lipstick or dildo. These small bureaucratic inconsistencies have a disproportionate effect on my temper: I simply go crazy. Inwardly.)
As the hours snail by in the visa section, as you await your call to interview with a consular official, your eye may alight on Warhol’s Monroe prints on the walls: take one sleb photo, daub with colour. $70m please, ta. Actually, my attention is soon caught by a somebody in the visa section waiting room. At first I’m not sure. Were it not for the heavy black shades I wouldn’t take a second glance. But who would wear sunglasses under the gentle fluorescence? Only a sleb. Then I take in the bald head and its tattoos: what looks like a Star of David over his crown and black squiggly things running down his neck. No, it can’t be Boy George! But it is.
He looks grumpy, morose even. The all-black ensemble doesn’t help; nor does the little hood at the back. He yawns a lot, stretches, looks about, rolls his head, rolls his shoulders, hours snailing by. I recall he wants to get back to the US for a concert this year. Can’t think getting a visa can be that easy for him with his record - has the trial over the tied-up male escort finished? Can't be bothered to check. He gets up and pads over to the café, and that’s the last I see of him. Perhaps as I write this he’s still pleading with an official to give him a visa. I wish him luck.
I was tempted to say something before he disappeared but I remembered a friend saying hello to him outside a club recently. He just looked vacantly at her then tightened his countenance somewhat for a minor withering gaze: I’m told at that moment his lips resembled a recently unfucked arsehole. An unhappy thought to end on.