As the last passengers walked by, happily to have flown across the Atlantic Ocean without incident and land in the country of Maple Syrup and Ice hockey, the only people left in the arrivals lounge were me and my friend. We were waiting for our mutual friend who had worked with us the previous summer at the Peligoni sailing club, on the Greek island of Zakynthos.
I then get a phone call on my mobile, a voice void of emotion, asking me to go and answer a grey phone, found hanging on a wall at the end of a long corridor. I passed two doors opposite each other as I approached the ringing phone but thought nothing of these, or the fact the place that I was standing had no escape.
I had been sent there to answer some questions about our visiting friend. A friend who knew me as Ricky to talk to, but when she had seen my name written down on social networks I was Ricardo Bazwarey.
It didn’t help that I knew her as Leen. The first question I was asked: ‘who are you waiting for today?’ I immediately answered Leen Horsford. Leen was who I was expecting to meet. She was the one we were waiting an extra hour at the airport for. It was Leen who we would be living with us for the next month. We were planning a snowboarding trip to Whistler, cycling around Vancouver’s Stanley Park and plenty of drinking.
And it was Leen who was arriving in Vancouver International Airport and was meeting Ricardo Bazwarey, not Ricky Barrington. The immigration officer politely stated, ‘there is no Ricardo Bazwarey in Canada’ and led her into an interrogation room. It was after not being able to provide evidence of funds for her trip, due largely to the fact that Leen had left her purse on the back seat of her mother’s car, that I was asked to take the small walk to answer the phone of no return.
I knew her real name of Emily, but had never called her by it. After quickly answering ‘I’m here to meet Leen Horsford’ to my first question, my hesitation and stuttering as I tried to correct myself bought little assurance to my executioner. At this point I turned slightly from staring at the wall in front of me to see that I was alone at the grey phone. No one had yet emerged to arrest me. My next few replies would most certainly deny access into the country for Leen, and probably see me sitting beside her on the journey back to the UK if I didn’t shape up.