The Passport Game.
Have to renew Jim’s British passport. The avid reader may remember a bit of a problem when I wanted to visit a sick relative but both Kev’s Japanese and UK passports had expired and we couldn’t get him a new one in time. So I made a sacred vow to get everyone’s passports valid and up to date, lest such a problem occur again. Well suffice to say, that was all just hogwash and I never got it done of course, it went on an unread, unwritten list of things to do one day when I have all my shit in a pile.
Now apart from my terminal procrastination, one of the things that makes me keep putting it off, is the 100 pounds it costs.
80 quid for the passport and 20 quid for the courier fee.
So four hundred quid before we’ve left the country. Now Sunshine being 18 now ( and able to apply for and pay for her own hopefully;) can get a ten-year one, but the others can only get 5 years and it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that they don’t actually need a UK passport for five years, having them is very much a ‘just in case’ situation.
Add to this financial injury, whereas we could once get them processed in Osaka, operations were then moved to Tokyo and then moved again to Hong Kong. The website suggests that for security reasons don’t make the package look like it contains a passport, so disguise it as a ham sandwich or something?
Now I read, processing operations have been moved back to the UK, but we still have to send the applications ( and the money) to HK.
So I decided to take the bull by the horns and get Jim’s application in before we go to the UK in October.
First I downloaded the forms, left them lying around for a few weeks, tripped over them, lost them, downloaded them again, filled them out. I was * this* close to posting them, in fact, in my mind they were posted, I told people I’d posted them, I was so close, when I remembered I hadn’t got anyone to counter sign them. It has to be either a Brit or a Japanese person of standing, ( any old reprobate Brit will do I think), the website suggests, a doctor, a police officer, someone from the courts or a teacher.
At 11 years old he has failed to form a long-standing relationship with either the police or the courts.
So I called Jim’s pediatrician who he hasn’t actually seen in about 5 years I think, but he said he’s sign them as he had the previous passport.
Well the past few years have not been good to Dr High Circle. He was the best Dr ever, for my kids but time has marched over him with hobnail boots on. I think perhaps he has some kind of wasting disease, he has serious tremors, and unfortunately his hand writing was totally illegible. I couldn’t tell him that of course, I just thanked him and left with my useless form.
So plan B, I printed out another form and when school started back up again I called the deputy head and asked him if he would sign. He sucked in his breath a lot first but then said he would and would I write some instructions, which I did on little post-its and stuck them to the form where I needed him to put some info in.
I went to pick it up today and he said, he didn’t really know what he was supposed to do. So I went through it with him first and explained it, then line by line. So the first line said ‘name in full in block capitals’. I was standing next to him, saying ‘full name in capitals, capitals, capitals..’ and he signed it! Aaargh.
Then where he had to write the name of the school, the space wasn’t very big and his letters were, so he just ran it outside the box and they don’t let you do that.
I can’t ask him to do it again, because he was really unsure of putting his name with his professional position onto a legal document that he can’t even read, and I know he was nervous and so I really just had to thank him and leave with another useless form. It’s a pain but at the same time I am not knocking either of these guys, they tried to help me out and these forms are confusing enough even if you read English.
I had had a couple of questions myself and called the hotline, which is outsourced from HK to Woking, and it was a joke. It was one of those press 1 for this, press 2 for this affairs. I pressed the relevant button and the message said, “ I didn’t quite catch that please press again” on and on until I gave up.
So I’m back to square one, I’m thinking to ask a British friend who lives quite near, he has never actually met Jim but it’ll probably be easier in the long run. Failing that Jim will just have to travel on his J.passport.
The Passport Game.