Notwithstanding inasmuch as which nobody can go really go anywhere much, even if they wanted to, which I don’t, I found – quel horreur! –  that my passport was about to expire, imminently, if not sooner, and that failure to renew it would probably mean my sudden expiration in a puff of logic.

Straightway I hied forth fifth to this handy government passport renewal website (my, these things are much easier than they were back in the day, when one had to sharpen goose feathers, create one’s own envelopes and pay for the services of a small boy, fleet of foot, with a cleft stick wherein to bear one’s missive), filled in all the details (inside leg measurement, names of all my pets, and so on and so forth in like fashion), and paid the money (when was the last time anyone handled real, actual cash?*).

There were, however, two minor impedimenta. First, I had to mail the old (or just about current) passport to the Passport Authority. Mrs Gee has a ukase on visiting the local post-office-cum-general-store, as it’s rather cramped; social distancing is more of an aim than an achievement; and some Residents of Cromer seem yet to have heard about facemasks. So I found an envelope, a stamp I trusted to still be current, and trusted to the Gods. They smiled on me and the passport arrived at the Passport Authority mentioned earlier.

I also had to take a photograph of myself. That was when the trouble started.

Now, I usually go to one of those automatic photo booth machines. You know the ones. Whenever I sit in one it’s a battle to get myself in the right position without a small voice saying

Surely you jest, Fatso


We can’t get all of you in without using Cinemascope(TM), and if we had such a facility, you’d have big black lines top and bottom, which the Passport Authority won’t like

or some such. In any case, these being out of bounds, I had to resort to my own devices, specifically my iPhone, operated by Gee Minima, to take a photograph.

The first photo failed to pass muster, as it was on the wrong colour of background.

Yr. Obt. Servt. A few days ago. Background wrong colour.

The second photo failed too, as my face was too shadowed. I’d also shaved in the interim, though that wasn’t the reason given for the failure of this picture.

Yr. Obt. Srvt., Earlier Today. Face too shadowed.

So, Gee Minima and I are going to have another go, in natural daylight, whatever that is.

This exercise made me think about how unflattering passport photos are, and how much they make one (or me, anyway) look like someone that no self-respecting polity should allow within their borders. Some time ago, Gee Minor found a photo of this person

A person. Recently.

… pasted it on to a piece of paper with a picture of this other person

Another person. Also recently, though not necessarily of equivalent recency as the photo of the person preceding.

… with a diagram implying that I was somehow the product of some horrific miscegenation between these innocent souls, and pasted the whole assemblage to the door of my Home Orifice with the slogan


Back in the day when I had hair, people who claimed to be my friends remarked on my resemblance to this person

A third person. Unrelated to any of the foregoing.

… which could explain why, when, back in the days when I traveled, I was on occasion called aside and questioned and my luggage inspected. That, and the fact that I have a swarthy, somewhat Middle-Eastern complexion, (‘ah!’ said an Indian colleague when we chatted about these matters, ‘you’ve discovered the “Brown Queue!”‘) such that when mugshots of suspected Middle-Eastern terrorists appear on the TV, it has been remarked that they look just like me. The person doing the remarking was … my mother.

Now, when your own mother thinks you look like a suspected Middle-Eastern terrorist, you know you’ve got problems.

* On handling cash. Some months ago I had occasion to drive into Norwich and use a pay-and-display car park — something I do almost never nowadays, what with one thing and another. The cash machine obstinately refused to accept the £1 coin I kept feeding in. It was some time before it dawned on me that since I last used such a facility the coin I was using had been replaced by a new design, and was no longer legal tender.

About Henry Gee

Henry Gee is an author, editor and recovering palaeontologist, who lives in Cromer, Norfolk, England, with his family and numerous pets, inasmuch as which the contents of this blog and any comments therein do not reflect the opinions of anyone but myself, as they don't know where they've been.
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4 Responses to Passeportout

  1. John Wilkins says:

    I must say you have kept a rather low profile since that last photo was taken. Well done hiding in plain sight that man!

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