Just over a week ago I returned to the UK from a business trip to Australia.
On arrival in Sydney I had presented my Australian passport and been greeted with a smiling ‘welcome home’ from the person behind the desk. How nice!
What a contrast at Gatwick. The first sight was a line of police in paramilitary gear with dogs and submachine guns shouting aggressively at the bewildered passengers to get into single file.
One dog, bless him, showed passing interest in the choccy I’d brought from the plane, but was sharply hauled back by his guard. It’s a dog’s life in the UK border police force.
Then the gruff individual at the passport desk spotted I had another passport in my folder (I always carry them together). Yes, I said, I have an Australian passport as well. He then demanded to see it – ‘to check it’s the same person’. Meekly, after 27 hours on planes, I showed it. But by what conceivable right should he require to see the passport of a national of another country?
So that’s my two countries. One that welcomes its citizens home. The other that grumpily disbelieves and thinks it’s clever to bully them.
This earth, this realm, this interfering and threatening land…