In need of serene thoughts

Readers often think that life as an F1 journalist is all about fast cars, fast women, vast expense accounts and Business Class travel. If only it were like that.. the reality is that one travels down the back, stays in overpriced hotels, which are rarely very good, and have to deal with far too many mindless bureaucrats. My friends will attest that I am by nature an eerily calm person, who refuses to get flustered by anything, but when it comes to visas, even I cannot remain calm.

After a morning wasted travelling to and then waiting at the Russian visa service in Paris, with a raft of paperwork to lodge an application form, I’m now biting my lip to stop myself saying what I really want to say… when I get home I may smash a few plates, and feel better.
Formula 1 should not go to countries where access for the media is this Byzantine. Formula 1 is an entertainment and a means of promotion for the country involved. They pay a King’s Ransom to secure the rights. We go there and generally write pleasant things about the place. If we were spies we wouldn’t try to go as journalists, that would be too hackneyed. We’d go as mechanics as they are all waved through without any grief. The Russians want the media to promote their event but they don’t seem to want the media. I’m afraid I just don’t get it… and I doubt that anyone involved on the Russian side could explain it…

Three hours later, I’ve been home, I’ve  signed the necessary forms in black ink rather than blue ink (I wish I was kidding), I’ve got attestations that I’ve never heard of before, rather than conventional proofs of residence, and I’ve printed out three previous Russian visas to show the pen-pushers that it used to be possible to do this in their very office.

So now I will waste my afternoon…

Once more unto the breach.