how to get a passport

1) Want to go abroad.
2) Need to go abroad.
3 Realise passport runs out in about ten minutes. Or three weeks or something. Whatever. In a bad amount of time, seeing as it runs out the day before you have to go away.
4) Look up passport agency website.
5) Fill in form.
6) Click send.
7) Go to photo booth and have nice photo booth photos taken.
8) Three days later, on receipt of passport forms for signing, realise there is no time for faffing. No time to hang around. No time for unneccesary waiting. Immediately phone passport agency.
9) After a comfortingly long, long time on hold, get through to an unintelligable Irishman.
10) Somehow manage to arrange an interview at the passport office in London. Under strict instruction from unintelligable Irishman, make list of what to take. Photos. Form. Reference number. Payment.

A couple of weeks pass.

The day before Im due to go to my appointment, I realise that my appointment is the day before pay day, and I have no money. Not a penny. Not a tiddle. Not a bit. I start to worry. I have transfered all the money I can from somewhere to there, and there isnt more any more to transfer.

I look for a chequebook. I find one. It has one cheque in. Pre-written for £25 and pre-dated from June 2002. I try and cross this information out, initial it and rewrite the new information above it. Unfortunately, due to two non-working pens and an uneven working surface, it looks like the cheque has been forged by a thumbless eight-year-old, with help from her seeing-thumb dog.

Then I notice that my card – a basic as you can get it debit card (I was denied the pleasure of grown-up cards many years ago when I was money-bad, and decided that it was safer all round if I just stuck to Tonka-cards forever more) – may not even be a cheque guarantee card.

This worries me not a little.
It panics me quite a lot.
As you may be able to tell, it doesnt take much to panic me at the moment.
I spend the next 24 hours in almost breathless panic about the fact that they will reject my payment at the passport office, and quite possibly shout at me for wasting their time and trying to pass a thumblessly forged cheque at a government agency.

I go to the passport office. Stating my time of appointment, I am shown to queue number one. In queue number one, I take out my cheque, and try and clean up the awful mess i have made.

I make it worse. It looks like the thumbless girl (or dog) has dribbled. I am called from queue number one to queue number two.

My phone rings. It is my beloved. We talk in hushed tones about the worry of the cheque, and the fact that there is no other way to make money magically appear in my account. I put the phone down, worried. I am called from queue number two, through the x-ray beeper, and join queue number three.

In queue number three, people stand in front of me and talk about how they are intending to pay for their new passport. One is paying by credit card, and the other is paying by cash. I consider, and quickly reject, a swift mugging. I am given a number, and sent to queue number four.

In queue number four, I sit looking over my application form, and worrying about my payment. How stupid I was, how stupid. If only Id delayed the appointment a day. If only Id managed to hold on to the money.
Perhaps I can ask if they will take my card and hold it till midnight. Perhaps they will not notice. Perhaps they will not care.

My number is called. On the way to the window, I think of nothing else. Of course they will notice, I think. They see cheques every day, and forgeries too, and will undoubtably have heard the prosthetic thumb/dog excuse before. They will not care that I get paid tomorrow, and will shout at me for wasting their time, and hate me forever because I do not have a working blank cheque book and because my card is only a Tonka-card. I berate myself thoroughly for not thinking this through far enough in advance, and

I reach the window.

My application is rejected immediately because my hair in the passport pictures covers the outside corner of my left eye (contravening biometric passport picture guidelines, section 3a).

No one even loks at the damn cheque.