23 minutes: that’s the time I spent today queueing at passport control in Stansted Airport, on my way back from Italy. If you count that I’m flying about 15 times a year, that means it’s more than 5 hours of my personal time I lose every year because of this.
And all why? Just because the UK has always stubbornly refused to be a Schengen member.
I grew up in a border area that became border-free when I was just a child. I have lived in the heart of Europe, and travelled endlessly without having to show my ID. The notion of passport check has become very foreign to me and it is something I associate to long-haul flights and holidays on exotic continents.
And yet, I now live in London and every single time I come back from being away, I have to stand and queue to produce my identification document to an officer who by nature regards me very suspiciously. And here I am, sulking, sighing, smouldering. Happy to be back to my host country, but just so bothered by the process to enter it.
There is a strong belief here that entry to the UK is a privilege, not a right. I wish it was the other way round.