Returning from Barcelona a few months ago, I removed my green shorts from the washing machine and found that I’d accidentally left my passport in one of the pockets. It had turned to mush. My heart that is. Oh - and the passport. It’s a shame because I looked so cute in the photo; I’m all of sixteen with a proto-type fringe, oily skin and the unmistakably doleful eyes of a virgin. I’ll never perfect that look again.
Although I’m trying hard not to fall into my usual cycle of panic and procrastination, Britain’s petty bureaucracy doesn’t make things any easier. How the red tape hasn’t crippled this country ten times over I’ll never know. Nothing is easy to get. No-one has the right information. The help desk has always just closed.
This is the process it took to get a replacement passport form from the Post Office, an institution that has the grating tagline “For the little things that make the big things happen” (Insert ironic laugh here).
Walk to local Post Office. It’s shut because it’s Wednesday afternoon. Am not sure if it’s just this particular branch or every Post Office, or why they’re closed at 2pm in the middle of the working week.
Return to Post Office the next day where I’m informed that I will have to go to a Head Post Office because they do not have that particular form (of course not! What was I thinking?)
Walk to Head Post Office and stand in a queue for 45 minutes before the teller helpfully points out that the forms are near the entrance (Of course! Forms, hidden behind door! What was I thinking?! *bangs head on desk*)
I now have the form and, after three attempts, I even got through to the London branch of New Zealand Immigration (for the small fee of £1 per minute on a premium line rate for a recorded message). My mother is sending over my birth certificate and I’m practising doleful looks in the bathroom mirror - so I might just get everything together and have a real-life, get through customs, British passport by the time I’m ready to leave and not have to sleep in cardboard boxes at the airport for 16 years like the guy Tom Hanks is playing in that movie.
My sister Amber is coming to London. We’re doing a life swap - I’ll take her room in Wellington and she’ll take over custody of my ironing board, colander and my friends while I’m away. The best bit is that we have a crossover period from the 9th of September and I have enough holiday time owed to me to take the last two weeks – from about the 17th - off completely. I have to admit I’m nervous about her being here all by herself. I know Am will love this city but I can’t fight the older brother impulse to protect her from, well, everything. At least she’ll have the Scoobies to keep an eye on her. And an ironing board. Oh, and a colander.