Bastards! Yeah, bunch of bastards! That’s what they are.
I had a close encounter with bureaucracy last week and I didn’t enjoy it at all. I need to renew my passport and it wasn’t a straightforward process. It’s not a long or complex form which is just as well because I’m not a complex man.
I got a form from the Post Office, followed the instructions in the little booklet thing that came in the envelope with the form because I can read and used a black pen. I even used my neatest block capital handwriting so that the nice people in the Passport Office wouldn’t have to struggle to decipher my usual illegible scrawl. It took 20 minutes and then I signed the form. That was my mistake.
I broke the margins of the little box. You are not allowed to do this. Now, I’m quite an expansive man. I have an expansive signature. It sprawls but it has a certain style, a bit like a Brazilian slum. I took the form back to the Post Office to use their Check & Send service. They took the form, advised me it would cost £8.75, checked it and then didn’t send it. The Passport Office wouldn’t accept my form with the straying signature. They gave me another form.
So, I filled in a second form. It took 20 minutes again. Neat handwriting takes time. I may have stuck my tongue out a little while I was doing it. I got to the end of the form, dated it, signed it and broke the margins of the signature box again. Shitsticks.
The third form took 15 minutes to complete. I signed it first. It was a cramped, crabby wee signature but it didn’t break the margins of the box. I turned to the first page and wrote my first name in the surname box. Turd junkies.
I signed the fourth form, sighed in relief, completed the front page and got my date of birth wrong. Who gets their date of birth wrong? A man who is sitting in a Post Office getting increasingly distressed by his own stupidity and the obduracy of people who process passport applications, that’s who.
I completed the fifth form in a bit of a rush. It took five minutes. Some of the block capitals had a certain angry feel to them by now. There was rage on that page. And then the signature broke the box.
I took a deep breath and a sixth form. By now I’d seen three different counter clerks. “You know it will cost £8.75 for Check & Send?” Yes, yes, yes, I’m only too fucking aware of how much it’s costing me. It’s costing my soul, I tell you. It’s only my whole fucking soul… I got to the end, signed the form and got the date wrong. I checked the notes, saw nothing against the rules, scored through the incorrect date and redated it correctly.
“The Passport Office is funny about dates,” said the fourth counter clerk. What, like Tommy Cooper was funny? Or maybe Franz Kafka? I took a seventh form and left the Post Office in search of sanity and sanctuary. I found it at The Afternoon Tease where I had a very nice coffee and some of their gorgeous cake. Seventh time lucky. The cake gets the credit.