Friday, 20 June 2014

Documents and Envelopes

My passport ran out at the end of May. There was a chance that I might be going abroad at short notice so I made an appointment for the Premium (twice the price) four-hour turnaround passport renewal service. After finding and then spending what felt like far too long in a 'UK Passport Standards Approved' photo booth, feeding it with one pound coins, checking my nose was clean then looking straight ahead into the camera and not smiling, frowning or blinking, I came away with a lot less money and what I thought was a selection of okay likenesses: two lots with hair behind ears, one lot not.

The passport office is a bit like an airport terminal and your bag and body get x-rayed in the same way as at the airport except you're only going to travel as far as an interview booth on the second floor. The experiences are similar in other ways too: same anxious pre flight feelings despite getting there earlier than necessary, same focus on an information board that's flashing numbers, same need to verify that the right documents are present and correct and the same worry about whether there'd be time to go to the loo before take off/interview or do you hang on 'til later.

Then four (non-premium) hours later after the biometric chip has been activated and the background checks have been run and you wonder if HM Passport Office has made a note on your file about those overdue library books, the new document is ready for collection to be handed over in this cheerful yellow envelope. A surprisingly jazzy stationery choice for something that's government issue that helpfully takes your mind off the message informing you that the trip abroad around which all this administrative urgency was designed, has been cancelled.

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