Tough questions

(This is a passage from Bill Bryson’s “Notes from a Big Country” which makes me laugh every time I think about it. It is the start of a chapter entitled “Drowning in Red Tape”.)

I’m not even going to begin to tell you about the frustration of trying to get a foreign-born spouse or other loved one registered as a legal resident in the United States because I haven’t space and anyway it is much too boring. Also, I can’t talk about it without weeping copiously. Also, you would think I was making most of it up.

You would scoff, I am quite sure, if I told you that an acquaintance of ours – an academic of high standing – sat open-mouthed while his daughter was asked such questions as ‘Have you ever engaged in any unlawful commercial vice, including, but not limited to, illegal gambling?’ and ‘Have you ever been a member of, or in any way affiliated with, the Communist Party or any other totalitarian party?’ and – my particular favourite – ‘Do you plan to practise polygamy in the US?’ His daughter, I should point out, was five years old.

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