Tuesday, 15 June 2010
The yokel-come-thatched cottage look (see earlier post) may become fashionable. I've launched the Look. Not that I've ever been a leading light in the fashion world before or, indeed, that I intend to show you yet, but I think my new passport photo could be a trend-setter for countrified hair style and colour. And I will be stuck with it for the next ten years, so it would be good to think that at least for a brief time, I was the It Girl....
I had a perfectly reasonable passport photo ready, one of a million taken by my friend Lynn minutes after I emerged from the hairdresser. I chose the one in which I looked almost normal.
Although looking, unsmiling, straight at the camera, and trying not to make faces and give instructions (Not so close! Is my nose shiny? Do I look gormless? A miseryguts?) made 'normal' an impossible dream. I never expect much of a passport photo anyway, except that it shouldn't prompt immediate arrest by unsmiling Immigration Officers and long hours of detention and questioning until I am rescued by someone who would vouch for me being that frightening yet harmless creature in the photograph.
Then I spent hours at my computer trying to format it into a printable size that conformed to the regulation 35-45cm - or was that mm? - demanded by the Passport Office. No luck. Slightly too narrow, and annoyingly, the only format offered by Picasa was for American requirements - 2" square. (Yes, I felt like complaining too; how US-centric of Google!)
I emailed me-looking-normal to Suzy, panicking slightly that prevarication and forgetfulness was leaving me very little time to acquire some form of picture ID for my already-booked flight to Bristol on July 5th (more of that later). The out of date passport (remember how stupid I was last November? I think I'm even stupider now.) was now well over its 1-year out-of-datedness limit, and the thought of being stopped at Security was too much to bear.
Suzy fiddled about obligingly, and printed off a heap of the near-normal images, and off I dashed to the little Post Office where the rather dour Scottish postmaster checked my application form then declared the photos all wrong. Not the grim, unsmiling image of me with shiny nose, but the measurements between edge of photo and eyes, or some such pernicketiness. My eyes are the wrong width apart? The edges are too near my eyes? My eyes are beginning to reflect extreme harassment? Unacceptable, anyway.
So off I dashed again, to a place called Klick, parking illegally and throwing myself in the door asking what time they closed. Good - 5.30. It was now 5.10. Did they do passport photos while I wait? Yes. Sit there, look at the camera, wait for just long enough to hand over £5.99, and out of the machine comes the worst-ever photo of me.
My hair looked like it had never known conditioner or hairbrush, and that I had cut it myself in the dark. It had a strange greenish-yellow tinge. Old thatch.... My fringe looking surprisingly shorter - think Richard III - than even the hairdresser dares, I had a shiny nose, a moon face and an alarmed look that only grew worse as I gazed in horror at this image of myself.
There could have been a thought bubble: "Ten years of a photo like this in Government files/Watch List, and I still might not get my passport back in time for that flight to Bristol...."
Another dash, through heavy traffic, to the Post Office, arriving 2 minutes before closing time. Dour Scottish postmaster did the fast-tracking business, looked at the new photographs, assured me that my passport would arrive within 2 weeks - and as I paid the £80-something fee, he smiled, winked, and called me 'pet'.
It has to be bad when a photograph elicits the kindly sympathy of complete strangers.
Perhaps, once I get to Somerset, instead of joining a small group of like-minded incomers, I can find myself a battered straw hat, put a stalk of straw in my mouth, and lounge about on farm gates, saying "Aaarrr..." to passers-by. I have the looks for it, and the ID to prove that it really is me.
PS July 5th is a day trip only - 7.30 a.m. flight out, 9 p.m. flight home, just to drive round the leafy lanes in a hired car and look at these little villages I'm only able to imagine. Well, you have to make a start somewhere, don't you?
Posted by rachel at 18:13