Abbas Kiarostami, 68, the Iranian director, was awared the “palme d’Or” in 1997 for his film ‘Taste of Cherry’ and, although I had neither heard of him nor his film, and although the “palme d’Or” only vaguely rings a bell, he appears to have an excellent reputation as a director. However, he will not be visiting London, as planned, to direct Cosi fan tutte for the English National Opera. It would appear that his decision not to come is because of the almost Kafkaesque behaviour of the British Embassy in Teheran and the evidence woud seem to suggest that the treatment Mr Kiarostami was subjected to was not wholly unlike that dished out to Josef K, the hero of Kafka’s ‘Der Prozeß’;(1) a few hours after the original application for his visa was granted, he was asked to resubmit the application again and he was asked for a second set of fingerprints, although the original set were only a few hours old.(2) Mr Kiarostami quite rightly went into a huff.
Now, I am sure Mr Kaorstami will move on and having made his intentions clear that he will not apply for a visa for the United Kingdom again, we might expect to see him in elsewhere in the European Union but not in ‘Blighty’. The United Kingdom’s loss, maybe, but the land of hope and glory will get over it and so will Mr Kaorstami. Unfortunately, lessons will not have been learned and the petty officials that populate the British Foreign Office will, despite stories like this reaching the newspapers, continue to treat all and sundry like shit and continue to believe that it is actually a privilege for anyone to be allowed to go to “their” England. Moreover, foreign students will still have to show evidence of big fat bank accounts before they are allowed to leave a large chunk of that fat bank account at a British university. Furthermore, ‘Blighty’s’petty officials will still hassle certain foreigners at Dover and Heathrow, despite those foreigners having valid visas in their passports. Indeed, the same petty officials will continue to be pretty petty vis-a-vis their own countrymen abroad and when it comes to returning “home” with a couple of “strange” visas in your passport, you might even get involved in a dialogue that goes something like this; “…. and how long do you intend to stay in the country, Sir?” “Pardon, I have just given you a British passport.” “Sir, that is not what I asked you, I asked you, how long you intend to stay in the country.” The “little Englanders”, the undiplomatic, diplomats.
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