I’d completed a visa application form, answering questions such as the purpose of my visit (tourism) and the details of my passport. I’d been waiting to complete the form for a while, but had to wait for confirmation from our hotel with a reference number to be quoted on the application. The hotel confirmation had to bear the seal and signature of a certified person and was unique to me: my Hero, Edward and Amy each needed a similar document to accompany their applications.
Just whose idea was it to go to St Petersburg for the weekend anyway? (He has owned up).
Having completed all the necessary questions about my background, where and when I went to college, where I have worked and who was in charge there, I then needed to find three bank statements to support my application and prove that I have enough funds for the days I will be in the country.
But “Have you travelled to any other countries in the last ten years?”
“Please give details and use a separate entry for each visit”.
Starting with the most recent entry on my list (because, yes, of course, I have a record of such things) I took a deep breath and began with “USA Jan 30 – 4 Feb 2017”, adding a new box after each entry. After 20 visits and half way down the first page of my list, it fell over.
I took the print out with me when we presented ourselves at the visa application office last Monday morning.
These appointments in London are getting to be a bit of a habit, aren’t they? Though this one did not offer the facility of an appointment – merely a queue. The office opens daily at 8.30am so in true Heroic fashion, we turned up at about 7.50am, to find ourselves 5th and 6th in line.
The process was actually quite slick and involved a five minute “interview” at a counter in post-office-like surroundings. We’d been given numbered tickets on arrival, so were called to the counter almost immediately and documents checked, fingerprints taken and money paid (oh yes…) this part was remarkably easy, except for one thing.
Have you ever tried putting both thumbs down, side by side (for fingerprinting) in the middle of a flat surface?
Our reward for an early start was a visit to the Royal Academy, where there were two exhibitions we fancied. Being in a Russian frame of mind, we began with the Revolution, a wonderfully designed exhibit where the layout and staging of the works on show was so very much in keeping with the art itself. Some of the art was familiar – in style and tone if not as a specific piece. The political posters and propaganda were so much of their time, though reading the details alongside individual pieces gave enough background information to provoke another look and further consideration.
Some work was rather brutal, other rooms appeared more hopeful at first, though once more the awful truth was not far away. In fact, there was very little to warm the soul or to inspire optimism, which doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the art itself.
It’s just that the reality isn’t always as much fun as it might appear, is it?
I’m not altogether sure that America After the Fall offered a vision of fun either! We’d seen Grant Wood’s American Gothic a couple of times in its home in the Chicago Art Institute and I believe I’d seen some of the other works on show in other locations as well: the Georgia O’Keefe and Edward Hopper pieces in particular. I hadn’t realised that this was the first time American Gothic had travelled outside North America, though, which could explain why this gallery was so crowded. The number of people in these small gallery rooms made it tricky to really appreciate some of the work on show and we didn’t stay long. Three faces remained with us long after we left though – again, painted by Grant Wood
Though I’ve never seen the painting before, I feel as if I know those women so well. I wonder which WI they belong to?