Here’s a word of advice: don’t turn up at the Chinese Embassy in London just after the nine o’clock opening time expecting to quickly pop in and submit your visa application before heading in to work.

If you’ve filled the form in correctly, submission only takes a minute.

But queuing to get in takes a bit longer. Two and a half hours, in fact: I eventually got to the counter at a quarter to midday, and it closes at noon. The process is held up by people making the same mistakes on their forms, but most of the delay seems to be due to travel agents depositing six inch deep stacks of passports at the window.

I can’t help feeling that the whole process could be sped up somehow. Clear instructions might reduce the number of mistakes and queries that slow down each transaction. Having a different process for bulk submissions might help, too.

They do a one-day express service for which documents must be submitted before eleven. I imagine that you’d have to stake out the office really early to have a hope of making that deadline.