It had been a long couple of flights from Japan. I thought the Brits would warmly welcome me in. After all, I had lived here as a backpacking youngster. How wrong could I be?
It had been so easy everywhere else to travel electronically and it felt good saving paper. As I approached the immigration desk at London Heathrow, I expected it all to be straightforward - after all, this is one of the most developed countries I have visited. It was NOT the time I wanted to turn on my mobile phone to show my e-ticket proof that I was leaving the country in a few days, only to find a completely flat mobile phone battery...........
They did not buy that I was only staying in London for four days to see a friend and that I REALLY wanted to be in Spain, not London. They did not buy that I could be self-employed with no fixed itinerary. As I sat in the detention centre, awaiting my fate, with the other people who looked like they were asylum seekers, it felt a bit like being in a movie. I did not belong. After having fingerprints and photographs taken (mugshots) and a very invasive bag search that included reading through my journals, they let me in and made me feel very privileged that they had done so. By that stage, I would have been happy if they had deported me.
London did, however, give me a fantastic few days of reliving memories, new sights, live entertainment, good food and great company - although a 14 degree 'summer' day will always be a bit of an oxymoron. Like me, London has matured. It is a modern, vibrant, cosmopolitan city, mixed with fascinating history and full of accents from all over the world.
Hopefully getting out will be easier.