Simon Kelner: Games without frontiers, bordering on the absurd

Kelner's view

Share
Related Topics

If irony was an Olympic sport, there would almost be no point in anyone else turning up. Get ready to hear God Save The Queen and let your heart swell with national pride. I'm not sure the hundreds of visitors to Britain at Heathrow Border Control the other day would have appreciated the high humour of the situation, but there they were, snaking their way to passport and visa checks underneath a huge British Airways advertisement about the Olympics. "We're Ready," it proclaimed. You couldn't make it up. Ready? By the look of things in the immigration hall, you would think we were ready only to host the finals of the multi-national queuing tournament (another sport in which we might be among the favourites for gold).

As a citizen of the mighty European Union, however, I breezed through passport control, immediately picked up my luggage and left Terminal 5 within 20 minutes of my plane landing.

I couldn't help wondering what the fuss was all about and was certainly bemused by the comment by Boris Johnson that the delays suffered by passengers at Heathrow gave a "terrible impression of the UK". And what impression would that be, Mr Mayor? Like, we are a country that takes security seriously? Like, at a time of high risk with the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee, we are not going to compromise the safety of our citizens? Incidentally, I overheard a couple of Americans complaining about the time it took them to get through immigration. Hello? Have they tried entering their very own country as a non-US citizen? On my last visit to the States, I was almost four hours in LA airport among the tired, the poor and the huddled masses in scenes that were not exactly consistent with a welcome to the world's most advanced, most prosperous country.

Notwithstanding all this, clearly something has gone wrong with the Border Agency and it's easy to understand the furious reactions of visitors who, after a long journey with little more to sustain them than beef that tastes like chicken (or vice versa) and a selection of rom-coms that they never wanted to see anyway, are faced with another couple of hours added to their travelling time.

Nevertheless, I didn't notice the chaotic scenes that some reports have described. People seemed to take the disruption in their (very slow) stride. Perhaps they had been warned before they left their place of origin. Certainly, the management of expectations has become a recent, and welcome, tactic employed by airlines. On checking in for my flight home, I was told that the on-board entertainment system would not be working. (Oh damn, I thought, I was rather looking forward to that Jennifer Aniston vehicle I'd never heard of.)

All passengers were given a form on which they could register their complaint and seek compensation. This is a very clever move: you're really annoying your customers, but at the same time you're treating them well; being upfront and honest and showing you care.

And as I was filling in the form, I thought this was a novel thing: complaining before anything has actually gone wrong. Come to think of it, is complaining in the Olympics? Surely, there's another gold medal waiting for Britain.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Tony Abbott: A man most Australian women would like to pat on the back...iron in hand

Caroline Garnar
Australian rapper Iggy Azalea performs in California  

Hip hop is both racial and political, and for Iggy Azalea to suggest otherwise is insulting

Yomi Adegoke
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there