Ow ow ow

I just had an ingrowing toenail out. A minor problem for years, and then it flared up again last week, so I went in to the local hospital (same one where U was born) on Thursday afternoon for a bit of surgery. I was looking forward to a day of sitting quietly at home with my throbbing foot up on Friday. But it was not to be.

Just as I was setting off to get my toe done, I got a call from my head of office in Belgrade. I began by reassuring him that I was sending him my revisions to his latest draft report on the dodgy activities of the new Serbian government. He then informed me that the Interior Ministry had just given him three days to leave the country; his application to renew his visa and work permit had been rejected because he is the subject of an investigation by the secret police. We were not particularly surprised by the last bit but it was the first time we'd had it officially confirmed.

We pulled out all the stops of course, and the manoeuvre I was most pleased with was one I pulled off by remote control. The Interior Minister is the leader of a small political party which was actually applying to join the European Liberal grouping at a meeting in London yesterday. I primed the former and current leaders of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland with the news, and they forced the Minister to make a public commitment in front of all the European Liberal party leaders that he would rescind the decision.

Though this had not yet been formally notified to our man in Belgrade by close of play last night, I now feel fairly confident that we'll get it reversed and he can stay. The Serbian Prime Minister went on TV last night to say that it was a simple administrative error, that our man had been registered as the head of a business not an NGO, and he was sure it could all be sorted out. Of course the bit about his being registered as a businessman was not true; but let us charitably assume that the Prime Minister was misinformed and not just making things up to save face.

Meantime my foot had been throbbing away all day. And I am planning a quiet Saturday, to make up for the quiet Friday I should have had yesterday and missed.

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