Down to Tesco this morning to get passport photographs taken in their booth. I had memories of photo booths where you put the money in and suddenly there was a flash of light leaving immigration officials over the next ten years on the page remotely resembethe person before them light leaving immigration officials pondering whether the startled rabbitpondering whether the startled rabbit on the page remotely resembled the person before them.
It was €6 for the photos – I worked that out at £4 Sterling. I remember paying 25p for photos in the 1970s.Was sixteen times as much above or below inflation? No matter, my passport needed to be renewed.
Next step, get the photograph endorsed. Looking through the list of qualifying persons, I decided the school principal would be appropriate.
“This is for a United Kingdom passport”, she said.
“Yes, I’m English”.
“You could have got an Irish one.”
“I know, but I’m sentimental about my home country”.
Gathering all the documents together I take a last look at my old passport, it took me to Tanzania and to the Philippines, as well as to Canada twice. I was very attached to it. The cover had lost all of its print; it was bent and crumpled and slightly smelly; but it had taken me past numerous large men with terrifying arsenals of guns.
The British embassy is approached through a security lodge with armour plated glass and doors.The security man was pleasant and I went across the courtyard to the passport section.There were four people in the queue ahead of me. When my turn came the Frenchman at the desk explained that the new biometric passport would not be available until June, but that the passport with which I would be issued met all the requirements of the US Government. He stamped all the forms and told me my new passport would be available in ten days. I left the building just twelve minutes after arriving, €112 poorer.
Do a Tesco photograph and a school principal’s signature endorsed by a French member of the embassy staff make the world a safer place?
Or does it all play up to the vanity of politicians who delude themselves into believing they actually run the world?