Yesterday wee sis and I took a trip through to get 3 of our kids' passports renewed. We arrived in the morning and were told to come back at 1.30 as that was the first available slot for the day. So we then faced the prosepct of amusing ourselves in Glasgow for a good few hours before returning back there again later in the day. I should point out that to any Edinburger spending time trying to amuse yourself in Glasgow is fairly easy...just sit in the car and watch the (great unwashed) Weigies go by...hours of fun for all the family. However with shops open nearby we decided to head in their direction.
We had asked for the same day passport service at a cost of £84 each passport...daylight fucking robbery but there you go...and were assured this was fine and they'd get it sorted when we returned. After our few hours retail therapy, which invloved nothing more than the purchase of some chicken pakora, 2 mother's day cards and a cup of tea, we headed back to the Passport Office for our appointment.
We get shouted to the relevant desk and are met by a woman who must be in line for her retirement pension in the near future. She asks all the relevant questions, looks over the forms and says it all looks ok. So far, so good. However, next thing she's got hold of 5 year old's new passport photo. "Oh dear" she says in a condescending Irish/Weigie lilt. "These photos are unacceptable...do you have this wee boy with you?". Given that all decent kids of schoolage should be in school at this time I point out to her that no I don't have my son with me...a fact she could have noticed if she'd opened her eyes which for some reason she felt the need to close at the end of every sentence. "Is there a problem with the photo?" I ask her.
It seems there is indeed a problem with his photo. She goes on to explain to me in her annoying lilt and with her severely slow blinking eyes that my son's face is very pale against the white background and not only that but you can't see his features. Can't see his features? I look again at the photo as she hands it back to me...2 eyes, 2 ears, hair, a chin, a mouth, a nose, some freckles, an earring and for good measure the scratches left from the previous days battles in the playground all perfectly clear. As for him being pale...he's scottish and a red head...being pale is normal! However despite my protests she is having none of it and not only that she is having none of my Sister's kids photo's either citing the fact that her son had shadows behind his ears and you couldn't see his features clearly and her daughter's photo appears a little on the dark side. What a crock of shit! To top it all when she asks why we need them renewed and I explain that we are travelling to the US who require that all visitors have a clear 6 months remaining on their passports she turns to me, nods and says "yes you do need that for America but saying that you need 6 months clear on your passport even if you're flying to London". Em Why??? Am I being an idiot? I always thought London was part of the UK...do you need a passport to fly to another city in your own country?? Anyway how come you don't need 6 months clear when you go to Spain???
I am more than a little narked by her attitude and listen in wonder as she tells me that you shouldn't get your passport photo from a booth in supermarkets, post offices or chemists. "Where the hell else are you supposed to find one then?" I ask. Apparently you should go to a photographers to have them done as this will ensure they are of the highest standards. In any event she tells us, it is now too late in the day to get the same day service and with a slow closure of her eyes and an assurance that she's "only trying to help" she sends us away asking us to return the next day with new photos.
So a total waste of 6 hours then!
Last night was spent returning to photo booths to try and get the prized perfect photo she demanded. I got 2 more sets of 5 year old done, wee sis got 2 more sets each of her 2 and so this morning we were back on the road to Glasgow. We got seen straight away this morning and handed over the photo's. This time we got a male worker and as he studied the new pictures of 5 year old and my niece and nephew I feared the worst. He seemed to accept my new addmission alright but wasn't keen on the ones my Sis submitted. He decided to let my niece's photo pass but wasn't going to accept my nephew's. The fact he was a man though worked in our favour...they are so much easier to manipulate! A few feminine charms, lots of chatter and joking and he crumbled! 5 minutes after saying he wouldn't take my nephew's picture, the forms had all got their clearance and were filed!
£250 was parted with and wee sis and I found ourselves with 4 hours to kill before we could go back and pick the passports up.
So once more we headed for the retail venues of Glasgow. The day wasn't completely wasted as we headed to Next and discovered they were having a massive shoe sale! I bought myself a gorgeous pair of 3.5 inch bronze glittery stillettos. Which I am sitting here wearing because I love them so much! Wee sis also grabbed a bargain, she spotted a pair she liked and after being unable to decide which colour she prefered she bought them in every colour they came in!
A few more purchases later and we realised our passport adventure had cost us around £450 over the 2 days!
Thankfully our kids are all now in possession of shiny new passports. We got our mitts on them and checked them to make sure they were alright...imagine the surprise when we looked at my nephews new passport only to discover that the photo they had put on it was the same one irish/weigie/shut eye woman had categorically refused to take the day before!! Fucking typical.