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the continuing saga of our American visas. 
Did we get our Visa's ?

We eventually received our Notice of Approval from the States giving us clearance in principal to perform at World Fest,Silver Dollar City,Branson, Missouri from 2nd April until 6th May 2007.Our greatest regards to Rex Burdette from World Fest for all his hard work in rushing everything through at the last minute!!

Next step,all band had to go to U.S Embassy to get actual visas.The Embassy was in London an 800 mile round trip for us.

We had the appointment for 1pm on Monday 5th March so we all travelled down in the Beggars Row van being the cheapest way to do it.We left Edinburgh at 11pm on the 4th and arrived in London at 11.30 am.

We were trying to find the subway station called Kilburn road and were having no luck when the lucky white heather curse struck us.


We managed to push the van into a private car park and asked a passer by where the subway was?

Would you believe it? Right where we had broken down the Underground Station was right across the road.Got tube into Piccadilly and eventually found the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square where the queue was right round the building.

Got to first security checkpoint at 12.55 where we were bluntly told that our hand written application forms were no use as they had to be filled in on line and printed out.

They would not be accepted and that we would have to make another appointment in a few days and pay another $500.This she said with a straight face and Bob immediately burst out laughing and the rest of us simply stared at her with our mouths open.
We immediately thought the best way was to find an internet cafe and do the necessary and after a half our walk into Oxford Circus we found one.

We called up the Embassy website application form and typed details in but could not print out! Program kept crashing.Typed again with sweating shaking hands as time was going quickly and we could see these elusive visas disappearing into the sunset.
Did it eventually and got cab back to Embassy.
No Queue,Bad Sign and it was already about 4.30.
Ran to Security gate where we were greeted by "John Wayne" who told us of course that we were too late as they never see ANYONE in after 3.30 as this rule was never to be broken under pain of execution.

We told him that we had travelled down from Scotland with no sleep and that the van had broken down and that was why we were late for our 1pm appointment.
We thought it would not have helped matters to tell him that actually we had not read the website instructions properly about how to fill in the application forms.

All we got was "Sorry but you guys will have to make another appointment,there's nothing I can do!" At this point we all felt like hitting him,even although he was about 8 feet tall and built like a brick toilet (notice I did not write shithouse as you can't write words like that in case children will read this).

Instead we just stood there but at this point,Bob,being Bob!gave a performance of which Laurence Olivier would have been proud.He burst in to tears and basically pleaded with this guy and said Ricky had left his sick old mother in Italy to make this trip and that we all had children who would starve if we could not go to America to earn money for bread etc.etc.

David tried pretending he was gay to convince another security guard who looked very camp!
"Hold on.I'll see what I can do" and John Wayne disappeared for a few minutes. "You guys sure are lucky.Someone will see you" Ricky wanted to kiss the guy(He's noy gay, but he likes to help them out when they are busy) but I don't think that would have helped so I told him not to push his luck.
I must admit once we were actually inside, the staff could not have been nicer as they were very cool,calm and professional and we were 5 sweating,gibbering nervous wrecks.

The first girl checked all our forms and then we all had to have our fingerprints electronically scanned.
All went well until it came to Bob's turn,surprise.
surprise.The girl simply could not get a clear reading of his fingerprints to which he responded "Yes I know.I am a safe cracker in my spare time" Does not really help when these people have the authority to say Yes or No about whether you are allowed in to America or not.

try as they may they could get no prints for Bob due to the fact he runs his own landscaping business and they were simply worn away.
The girl got the rest of our fingerprints and said they would have to decide at the next window about Bob and the band.
Next step was to have our official interviews and whoever did this had the power to approve us or not.

I went up to the window first and was asked if I still supported Raith Rovers (Kirkcaldy football team) and if I was still in contact with Douglas Horne,Willie Kirk,"Harpo" Livingstone.
I just stood and stared at the guy as this was getting way too surreal.Apparrantly this guy behind the glass screen had been in my class at Kirkcaldy High School in 1965.

What are the chances of that happening,unbelievable.He just looked at the rest of us and said "You guys are approved.Enjoy your time in the States.Have a nice day" and handed us the slip of paper saying our passports would be delivered by courier within the next few days.
We left the building a lot happier than when we entered it.Getting these visas has been a long,expensive,and extremely stressful last few weeks.

Returned to van where we were all expecting it be be clamped and having to shell out £125 but it was okay.Our guardian angels were certainly working overtime for us today.
David called AA Recovery and a guy came at about 9pm and said that slave cylinder was broken (or words to that effect)He actually said in a broad Cockney accent "Sorry Guv its f****d.We are going to have to take you all back to Glasgow in the back of me waggon"

At this stage none of us gave a monkeys after the events of the day and anyway we found an off licence and were all armed with full carrier bags!!
After about an hour on the road a message came through that a garage in Slough (Where??) could repair the van and that the AA would put us up at a hotel overnight,the van would be ready first thing in the morning and that we would be on our merry way back home.By this time we were armed with half full carrier bags so we would have agreed to anything.

Van was dropped off at Garage,we were dropped off at Travel Lodge and headed for the bar.
Next morning garage phoned to tell us that actual clutch needed to be replaced and IF they could get the parts it might be repaired sometime that day but definitely not before 8pm.
Horrors as this meant spending the whole day in Slough,wherever that was as none of us had a clue where Slough actually was on the map.

We spent a couple of hours in the library internet and there just had to be a pub opposite didn,t there!
Farquhar gave the library a miss and headed straight there.We all spent 8 and a half hours there drinking tea,coffee and orange juice as we all had to share the driving.
Actually three of us had to share the driving as Farqhar was now on his 15th pint of Kronenburg and Ricky had to get to Luton where he was getting flight back to Scotland

8pm phone call from garage, still working on clutch,phone again at 10pm.AARGH!!!!
Farquhar got himself into a conversation with two women at the next table (as he does) and they invited us to go to an Irish Bar.
As I had already counted all the flowers on the wallpaper, 32,497 I was glad of the opportunity of a change of scenery so we followed a staggering Farquar suported by two equally staggering women throgh the streets of Slough.

The guided tour on the way included passing some very dodgy looking people I can tell you.We arrived at the Irish Bar which was called "The Queen of England" (Does that add up to you?)This trip was getting weirder by the minute!

After more orange juice for Bob,David and I, and more Kronenburg for Farquhar got call from garage.Van will be ready at 11.30pm.AARGH! (again)
We left Slough just after midnight with a 10 hour drive ahead of us of which Farquhar slept 9hours 55minutes crashed out in a sleeping back on the floor.
Everytime we went round a roundabout he just rolled from side to side! ha ha ha

I arrived back at Edinburgh just after 10am and guess what?
Our passports duly containing very official looking United States Of America Department of Homeland Security P3 visas had actually arrived an hour before us. All I can say is AMERICA LOOK OUT BECAUSE HERE WE COME!!!!!

PS we are flying to the states an knowing our luck if I was you and on the same flight as us-I WOULD SERIOUSLY THINK AGAIN -UNLESS YOU LIKE THE NORTH POLE!!!!!
Neil xx