Thursday, 14 March 2013

A Nation of Undesirables

I've just completed the trawl though atlases, timetables, savings accounts and passport renewal forms in order to book our summer holiday. And, having settled on a beguiling gîte in Brittany I was about to become excited when I realised who would be coming with me.

Believe me, you wouldn't want to holiday with this woman. I suspect she's on day release from a female offenders' institution. She definitely looks as though she'd been doing hard drugs. Or maybe I'm misjudging her and her grim-faced pallor is a symptom of galloping tuberculosis.


The Vicar, too, paled when he saw the company he would be keeping. He's been lurking in his study ever since laying eyes on her, bracing himself for August. So you see, the Home Office has a lot to answer for. I suspect its requirements for passport photos are part of a strategy to reduce the numbers entering this country, for most immigration officials would baulk at admitting the personages pictured in the average British passport. Those photo booths with mortuary lighting which make a toddler look like a cholera victim, the ban on smiles that gives us all the air of axe murderers, the print colours that simultaneously bleach our complexions and darken our eye bags transform us from adornments to society to apparent fugitives from justice.

A nation that was at ease with itself would insist on photo booths with mood lighting, the odd Grecian column as a backdrop, perhaps a discreet nozzle to administer an emergency spray tan. Radiant smiles would be obligatory to reflect the national pride. But presumably, officials are so accustomed to sullen expressions in the log-jams at Passport Control, that a beaming portrait would render us all unrecognisable.

And it's those border controllers that worry me. What kind of impression must they form of human nature when their social interaction consists of gazing at mugshots like mine? How much pleasanter their job would be they could browse snaps of us poised on a surf board or laughing into a cocktail umbrella.



I cling to one sole comfort. I've aged ten years since my last passport pic. The difference was paining me. But simultaneously I had to renew my ten-year-old's ID. And I can confirm that in merely five years since her last photo shoot, she's aged far more dramatically than me!


How about you? Are you happy to be seen on holiday with yourself?

19 comments:

  1. What a coincidence — I had my new passport and driving license photos done yesterday. I don't look particularly bleached, but I do look as if I have lockjaw. My old one was utterly grotesque and I am appalled that not one passport controller has ever said 'That can't be you!'

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I always thought your passport photo looked more like you than you do.

      Delete
  2. I was SO impressed with the joined-up government in this country, when I was looking into getting a new driving licence, and they said they could upload the photo from my passport application. Except then they couldn't because the passport was more than 5 years old.

    The last time I had to renew my American visa, the American embassy system rejected the photo because the background wasn't right. We'd done photos at home against a plain white or cream wall, but when they uploaded it, apparently it went psychedelic. I almost wept (you have to have been through the American visa machine to understand this). I thought that was TOO harsh. To reject the photo on the basis of the background.

    And in answer to your question, no, I'm not happy to be seen on holiday with myself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course, I have no idea what you look like!

      Delete
    2. I am beginning to look like a bloodhound. What does one do about jowls as one ages?

      My favourite passport photo of myself was one I had done in a booth with a baby strapped on my front in a baby sling. I obviously couldn't leave the baby (a few weeks old) lying on the floor outside, so I just pulled the sling down as far as it would go, and stretched my neck up. The result? Me looking as if I'm doing a giraffe impersonation, and an odd blue and white striped semi-circle on my chest at the bottom of the picture. But I like the photo, because it reminds me of those early days of motherhood.

      Delete
  3. I used to have a hideous passport photo taken in a booth when my haircut was very severe and it had been blowing a gale. I longed for the years to pass by so I could update it. This time I had my photograph taken by a proper photographer in his shop, after I'd come back from holiday, so I was far less peaky.
    Of course, I look nothing like my new photo...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Perhaps that should be my strategy next time. Although come to think of it cameras never do me justice. They always show a middle-aged matron when I know I'm a leggy young blonde!

      Delete
  4. Love the group shot!

    You are the BRAVEST woman I (virtually) know. I would numca jamas publish my passport photo, which shows me off in all my lopsided glory. I cannot CANNOT believe that it is actually me... that it has actually come to this.

    Your daughter is gorgeous of course. Look at that skin! Oh dear, I have come over all 'Snow White's step mother'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Imagine what it's like having to be me being seen at her side, my own phiz shining with foot cream!

      Delete
  5. I HATE mine, with a passion. A raw one. I look like I might try and eat you at any moment. Oh the things we do for some sun?!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think they should install Instagram booths everywhere instead. Much better for the ol' morale.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I dint have a valid passport on account if refusing to travel far with my marauding offspring, therefore I have remained firmly in my md twenties on mine!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think this will have to be my last decade of travel. Imagine what my mugshot will look like in ten years!

      Delete
  8. Ah yes, but she appears to be improving with age ;)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh I don't like my pass port photo either - my hair hadn't been washed for a few days - and so I scraped it back which made my flat features (as that's what the lighting does) look even worse - your daughter is beautiful BTW. X.

    ReplyDelete