We're off on holiday soon so I've been gradually, in a very organised manner, assembling our things in suitcases and making numerous lists. Feeling slightly smug and strangely calm, I did a quick check of our passports to make sure everyone was accounted for. And that's when I noticed that Mia's passport expired last March.
After a lot more shits and fucks and crap crap craps, Paul rang the passport office to make an emergency appointment. You can pay quite a lot of money and get a passport within 4 hours, which is great...if they have any appointments. Passport Office Guy refreshed his screen and by some miracle, someone had just cancelled. We had an appointment at 10:45 the following morning in London, the only appointment available in the entire UK. By yet another lucky coincidence, I happened to be working at home and was able to go to the post office to get the passport renewal forms and pick Mia up early to get her photo taken.
Forms (I got an extra one just in case) and photos all sorted, Paul headed off to my teacher friend Liz's house to countersign Mia's application and signature. Normally you don't need a signature if you look the same as your previous photo but as Mia was a baby in hers, the passport office told me she had to have her photo signed. So, off Paul went. Then Paul sent me a text telling me that he'd signed the wrong part on the form and we'd need to get new ones.
It was long past 5:30pm when the post offices shut and although you can fill out the form online, you then need to wait for the passport office to mail it back to you. Why? I don't know. Probably to keep someone employed. The Passport Form Posting Guy. Our only option was to head back to the post office when it opens at 8:30am, go back to Liz's for another signature, then head to London - and attempt to get to the appointment by 10:45am. At this point, I wasn't sure whether I wanted to laugh, cry, or throw up.
Liz had a marvellous idea: use Facebook to appeal to anyone who may have spare forms at home. After a minor meltdown on my status and being incredibly snippy to my lovely friends who were only trying to be helpful, the third amazing coincidence happened and one of Liz's friends had two spare forms. Paul got back in the car, picked up the forms, got Liz's signature, and all was much better in my world. To people who say social media is a horrible thing, I say it most certainly isn't. Most of the time, anyway.
This gave Paul much more leeway this morning, and he was able to head off to London with Mia with plenty of time to spare. We still don't have her passport in hand and I'm still pretty anxious (nothing new for me, though), but I'm feeling much more optimistic.
Needless to say, I've now put reminders in my calendar for all of our passports long before they are due to expire.
In contrast, my Canadian passport application process is as follows:
-print off a form from the web site and fill it out
-get my picture taken
-send in the form, photos, and money
That's it. No countersignature, no trips to the post office. May the gods bless Canada and their crack-smoking mayors and their bridge-breaking trucks.