4am to 10am Ape to Man at the US Embassy.
Alarm rings out , 4am! Eyes wide open. By 4.30am my car takes a swerve of a slip rood and swoops into the slip stream motorway. I’m zooming in to the capital, only seventyseven miles to go. There’s a visa appointment at the American Embassy at 8am. I’m told it’s good to get there at 7.10am. Plus I need to have spare time to get my visa photos done. I think leaving at 4.30am means I should be able to be at the embassy at 7.10am in Mayfair. I stop at four service stations on my way to London. Not a one has a working photobooth.
At 6am I arrive at the underground car park beneath The Marble Arch on Park Lane. I know there’s got to be a photobooth at Victoria station so I wait on Park lane and catcha bus. London is waking. Gorgeous. I find a photobooth in the station and then return to Park Lane on the bus and walk into Mayfair, to the Embassy. A giant golden eagle looms from the top of the embassy. It’s a fortress. Armed police stand with their automatic machine guns strapped diaganolly across theirbodies.
There is no-one there except me, first in line. It’s 7am, but now I have to wait and it starts to get cold. A woman turns up, and we start chatting. We warm to each other. She works in the record industry, has an office in New York and an office in Hamburg. I have workedwith musicians and record companies in Hamburg. And from that point on Diane Cheadle and I chat away in the Q then inside the embassy while we wait to be interviewed. There are few female managers in the music industry in the UK. It’s more integrated in the states,but I can tell she is strong as steel when it comes to her work. She’s a laugh too.
The Visa appointment staff at the embassy are officious and not unfriendly. The processprogresses: Que take a seat, take a ticket interview, seat ticket interview... each stage reminds me of the ape to man picture.
You know the one. First the illiterate crouching ape with hands and feet on floor - that’s how it feels going into the embassy - and then the ape starts to stand a little - that’s me in the Q at the embassy. The last image, the walking man... that's me leaving the embassy. "Visa" as Gordon Ramsey might say "sorted".
Now I am worthy of walking back through Mayfair, Londons most exclusive district. The Visa will be posted early next week between 6 and 8am at a cost of Thirty four pounds. Nice. Oh how human I feel now, with my stamp and all, I can stand tall.