Something that I have always noted and commented upon is how miserable, surly and at times, down right rude, passport officials (well, any airport staff as it goes) in England are.
I appreciate that no one wants to look at criminal mug shots at three o'clock in the morning (should have done better at school then, eh?) and with the increased speculation of a "T" strike perhaps around the corner there is not much to be cheerful about. However, these people are the first point of contact to the travel weary tourist and deserve some kind of warm welcome.
It seems that I am no longer alone in this observation and there are about to be sweeping changes brought in as officials at Britain’s borders have been told to cheer up, smarten up and take some lessons in charm - from the Germans. :oD
To coincide with the introduction of new uniforms nationwide, the government has decided it is a good time to give officials a full makeover.
Taking their cue from Germany, which was previously renowned as the home of stern-faced officialdom, it went through a big transition in the run up to the 2006 football World Cup. Now it is recognised as hospitable and at ease with itself and the Brits will attempt to do the same.
Immigration staff will now be expected to balance strict policing of illegal arrivals against the need to give tourists a pleasant start to their visit.
Sadly we will not be in a position to witness the miracle make over and personalty transplant as we have little wish to return to the UK for a while, but I'm sure we'll get some feed back on it somewhere along the line.