Sometimes I wish I could fly like a bird, rather than with Scandinavian Airways. All those questions to answer, hurdles to leap over, liquids to get rid of – it’s exhausting passing through airports.

I was especially nervous this week arriving at passport control after my experiences last year. I’d had a lot of trouble getting a visa, and ended up trapped in the country because I’d overstayed my EU allowance but hadn’t yet been granted the visa. The dates on my passport showed the overstay, but not the visa, so I was expecting trouble.

Coming off a UK flight in Sweden is always passport chaos and this time the queues were several and especially long. I joined the most likely one (‘welcome to Sweden’ remarked a nearby Swedish traveller, with a degree of irony impressive in a Swede). The queues snaked forward slowly. When it became clear there were four queues with no customers, because all the EU passengers had already sailed through them, a security guard waved us over to the ‘EU citizens only’ desks. We descended on them ravenously and joined the end of the short queues. Finally reaching the desk I was told rather sharply that, as the sign over it said, this desk was for EU citizens only, couldn’t I read? No point in protesting, so I moved to another queue, but none of us knew which of them we unwelcome Brexiteers were allowed to be in. Observing progress at each of the desks we realised our queue was also a no-goer. We leapt over to a third queue where a new sign (‘all you stupid people who chose to leave the EU, plus other non-EU citizens’) had encouragingly appeared.

I was beginning to sweat a bit, wondering how this conversation would go. When I got to the front it began as usual with ‘and what is the purpose of your visit?’, which in my situation is like asking what the purpose of my life is. Why am I here? I knew they were expecting the reply ‘business’, or ‘for a holiday’, none of which applied. After an initial hesitation, I replied ‘a holiday’, but a quizzical tone had crept in to my reply. ‘You don’t sound very sure,’ she said. This signalled trouble. It had been a long day, and I needed to get through this last hurdle. The main thing was, what was she going to make of all those odd dates in my passport?

I decide to give her some supplementary information. I play the Swedish husband card, saying he sometimes lives here. ‘Sometimes?’, she replies. I had sunk further into the quagmire that is Swedish migration policy. I look at her hopefully. She frowns. ‘Sometimes?’, she repeats, ‘- and do you speak Swedish?’

I reply – perhaps a little too keenly, and firmly – ‘yes, I do’. Mm, and I say that in Swedish, hoping to impress. She is not impressed, she is amused. Now she’s a bloodhound on a trail. ‘Aha’, she says, glaring at me from behind the glass barrier, and then, in very fast Swedish, ‘and what will you be doing while you are here?’ I tell her, in Swedish, that we will be in Kiruna, and that life is bloody awful for us since Brexit. She looks me in the eye and says she can well imagine it is, and the reason she is letting me into the country is because I speak such very good Swedish.

Now, call me old fashioned, but I don’t think that’s a very good reason to be allowed into a country. It feels to me that it could be completely random what rules are applied at the border, or for a visa application. Next week it might be whether you wear glasses or not, the following week whether you can explain how the Swedish stock exchange works, and the next whether you can prove your usefulness to the country in some specific way – like spinning a cloak from a thousand yards of gold thread before daybreak. Anyway, forget all that, I’m in.

Unfortunately it’s only a temporary respite, because even though I have my luggage checked through to Kiruna, and will now be on an internal flight, I have to go through security all over again, declare my liquids and technological achievements, and have my rucksack rifled through for sharp objects or bombs. I get through that too, but when spat out the other end I am languishing back in the territory of no drinking water on my person and one more flight to undergo.

When I see there are no drinking fountains in this part of the terminal, do I give up and buy an extremely expensive, small bottle of diet Coke? I do not. I go to the unisex toilets, where a mixer tap delivers hot water, undrinkable. I look below the sink and identify two stop valves, and test which is the cold and which the hot. I turn off the hot water. Now there is drinking water in the tap. But can I get a small plastic bottle underneath it? I cannot. But I have come prepared. I have about my person an additional small bottle, less than 6cms high, with which I can decant water from the low tap into my drinking bottle, which I then fill.

When I walked out of that toilet I felt like an extremely resourceful person, indeed a very useful person, if Sweden ever wanted to know. The kind of person they should let through their borders, even if I didn’t speak Swedish. In fact, I felt like a crow observed in an experiment, that had flown there and used a twig to open a food box. Which made me wonder – might there have been CCTV in that cubicle?