“That’s where I got my passport photos mum, isn’t it?” said Emmie who is five, as we walked past our local Fuji photo shop last Friday.
“Yep, that’s right – we’ll have to make sure we all bring our passports when we go on holidays next week, won’t we!” I replied.
“Do you have a passport mum?” she asked.
“Me? Of course I have a …. woah. Hold on. Do I have a passport …” Suddenly, memories of getting a new passport a few months before I got married started to flood back. And I got married almost ten years ago. So, with maths that even a five-year-old could manage, it was clear that there was a problem.
One frantic check and four hundred phone-calls later, I had established the following:
- My passport had expired in March.
- You need a valid passport to take a ferry to France.
- The passport office couldn’t give me an appointment until Wednesday, and then it would take five days to get the passport – except I was due to travel on Friday.
- The emergency facility allowed for appointments one day before travel only, and with no guarantees – this later proved to be incorrect, but at that point, panic set in.
Three hours later, I was back down in the same Fuji shop getting passport photos taken (and they are truly hideous – I look like I’ve just been arrested – but beggars can’t be choosers), organising forms and getting Garda signatures (the witnessing process still baffles me but if a Garda is happy to sign that he knows me, I’m not arguing).
My family was a little less sympathetic to my plight than I expected. Emmie, the catalyst for discovering the problem, was quite accepting of my fate:
“Mum, if we have to go without you, I know we’ll come home to find you soaking wet from crying – actually, I’d say the house will be flooded after two weeks of your tears, won’t it mum?”
And my husband sent me an email later that afternoon, purporting to be a potential Gumtree ad:
Short term position for new Mammy.
Must have CURRENT passport as position will involve travel. Willingness to drive in France a plus . Candidates with an ability to go into 5th gear will be looked upon favourably by the hiring manager.
Must be experienced in getting 3 children to bed while Dad watches World Cup in campsite bar.
Bonus points for :
Reading a map
I wasn’t ready to laugh just yet.
But then I too became somewhat ambivalent about it. As I listened to the kids complaining during a twenty-minute journey at the weekend, moaning that it was taking too long, plan B started to sound more and more appealing: if the passport didn’t arrive by Friday, I’d follow on by air, and meet them at the campsite. A two-hour flight on my own instead of a 28 hour journey by car? Maybe it was time to start hoping for another passport-office strike.
(to my husband: I’m kidding, I can’t wait to travel for 28 hours in a car with our kids, no really)
But there was no strike, and happily, at 3pm this afternoon, one sleep before our holiday, I got my new passport. And I don’t need any more punishment; living with the hideous photos for the next ten years will be penance enough.
See you in two weeks!