I think I might be a racist. Read this, both of you, and decide.
My girl needs a passport. This is because she's going to another country, in the EU, and although anyone else in the EU can just wander across the borders by bus, car, train or bicycle, we Eurobritons can't. The EU sucks donkey balls; we are not European (I'm certainly not, anyway), but since we pay squillions of pounds to build big shiny motorways in Spain while our piss-poor donkey tracks remain full of potholes big enough to knock our wheels off, we must be European. Either that or it's a scam, but that's another blog.
My girl already has a passport. She is young, so the picture on her current issue is of a toddler. She now has new photographs, taken by a photographer, because she is a girl, and girls like a nice picture on their passports. So I spoiled her. It was only a few quid.
The Post Office (I think they're still called that) has a service known as "check and send", whereby they will make a cursory inspection of your passport application, then send it off, so you can rest easily in the sure and certain knowledge that the passport gestapo will be issuing your lovely new passport in time for your holiday in the sun.
We have a Post Office. It is a Post Office with shop, which sells newspapers, magazines and plastic shite. More on this later. But, being a Post Office, it offers the "check and send" passport service.
"Hello, nice lady behind the counter, I would like to make use of your passport cursory inspection service, please."
Nice lady behind the counter takes paperwork, looks at it, ticks some boxes. Then the photographs are out.
"Hm," nice lady hums, "I'm not sure about the photographs."
"Bollocks," I mutter.
"I'll have to ask Raj," nice lady continues.
"Bollocks," I mutter again.
Out comes Raj. Raj is the stereotypical O my goodness yes Indian gentleman. I have no problem with O my goodness sterotypical Indian gentlemen, unless they prove to me that I should. Raj proceeds to offer such proof.
"The photograph, my goodness yes, it has the hair on the face, in the eye," he starts, "and it is too far away."
"Bollocks," I mutter, loudly this time. And this time it is not a comment, it is a statement.
"Begging your pardons," interjects Raj, unhelpfully, "I am not being able to authorise the photograph."
At this point I realise that I have a huge problem. Or, at least, one of us does.
You see, my family has been English since 1066. I know this for a fact. Before that we might well have been French but now we are to all intents and purposes English. And I speak English, and I can read English quite well. And, despite the last shithole of a government wishing us all to stay locked in our houses and working for the State so we can buy another motorway in Greece, we are actually entitled to travel to other countries and then be allowed back in to good old Blighty again. And, to that end, I took the trouble to research the draconian rules that the passport politzei now implement with respect to photographs.
The photographs I had taken of small girl are quite good, and they are a true likeness of her. Difficult to stop her grinning, as she always grins. And her hair is quite long, and falls all over the place. But it isn't covering her eyes, for that would invalidate the application. And her head, from chin to crown, measures 30mm on the photograph. I know this, because I measured it with a ruler. So the application is valid. I know, because I can read.
So, dear Raj, fuck off. Fuck RIGHT off. It is not up to you to "authorise" anything. It is up to you to do your fucking job, as a Post Office licensee, or whatever someone in charge of a Post Office is. If you want to bring back plastic shite from your cousin in fucking Mumbai or whatever you call the godforsaken call centre these days, then carry on. I don't have to buy it. But you're supposed to be running a Post Office. You're too short and too offensive to be a policeman, and too thick to do much else, so feel free to run a Post Office.
But, Raj, please do NOT, ever, presume to try to tell ME that I am incapable of understanding my own fucking language. Per-lease.
Am I a racist? If I am a racist because of this, then there is something wholly wrong with someone's definition of racism. And I can live with that.
But truly, I would like to know.
Just been onto the "printable" gov site to get the lowdown on photos.
"Head coverings for religious or medical grounds are acceptable".
Just been to the proper Post Office. There is nobody there who sounds like Raj or looks like Raj. There is an English-speaking girl who glanced at all my stuff (paperwork, you know) and stamped it, took the money, sent it off. No problemo, as they say in Greece.
Next step is to get the passport, then I will go to Raj with same, plus a tape recorder and a camera. After that I will be seeking whoever is responsible for Post Offices and those that run them.