Tuesday, November 14, 2006


My passport is up for renewal.

I'd like to escape from the country because of the incidents where I firebombed a number of bus stops in the Folkestone area (I can't help it ... it's an OCD issue, right?) which means that I want to get the new passport as quickly as possible.

So at the weekend I went to a photo booth to get the necessary pictures printed.

What has always been an unpleasant experience is now an ordeal.

Due to *stringent security measures* there are now several hundred pages' worth of do and don't rules regarding your passport photo. Or, more accurately, several hundred pages' worth of do.

You can't cover your head with a hat or scarf "unless it's for religious reasons".

You can't cover your face with hair, so sheep and Slash out of Guns & Roses have got problems.

You have to have a white, cream or off white background on the photo.

You can't be too far away from the camera. Or too close.

You can't have an open mouth, so Peter Crouch and Tyrone Dobbs from Coronation Street have got problems.

You have to be looking directly at the camera.

Those are just a few of the rules. As you can imagine, by the time I got to the photo booth I felt more like somebody who was facing a firing squad.

I know my hair was looking a bit dull and lifeless.

I know I should have touched up my grey roots.

I know I should have worn a bit more make up.

The final picture was worryingly off centre, even though I'd tried to keep my face in the red frame on the screen.

The husband's first words on seeing the picture? "Yeah, it's a mug shot".

Judging by the photo I had taken, I look like the sort of woman who would be screaming up at the bedroom window of a house on an East Midlands estate at two o'clock in the morning:


God forbid, if the photo is actually accepted (unlikely, which means that I'll have to spend another £3.50 to get some more pictures of Me As Bint With Mad Staring Eyes printed up) then I will be helping the police with their enquiries in every country I holiday in.

Plus I have to pay nearly £70 to get the passport renewed. Plus a delivery fee of £3 quid. Plus the charge to the Post Office if I want it checked to ensure it'll be accepted.

Can't I just go on breaks to the static caravan in Rhyl for the rest of my life?

Nice to see another Folkestoner online... I do the Folkestone Gerald, and blog here...
I had a horrendous passport renewal experience and I hated myself for agonising over the photo.
Then a mate swanned off to the airport having completely forgotten to renew her passport. After a bit of head scratching - they let her on the plane anyway.
So much for tightened security.
How much are they now? Mine has been up for renewal since 2000 but I've been waiting until I look nice enough for the photo before applying. I'm still waiting.
Bloody hell!
My passport lapsed a couple of years ago.
Just as well most countries won't let me in, otherwise I'd have to go through all that crap.
And that's a very alluring photo …
And you're not allowed to smile. NOOOOOO smiling. Smiling on travel documents is now outlawed.

They should have taken a small step for world happiness and made the reverse decision - everyone has to smile.
Your words ring true plus your funny too, who said I couldn't write poetry?
Pauly - welcome. Are you the bloke off of Sopranos? I have to say, I'm not from Folkestone, but occasionally visit. Well, unless you count being from Hednesford in Staffordshire as being from Folkestone (the football team got to the finals of the Welsh Cup, so you never know ...)

Kaz - I'm not looking forward to having my passport checked one bit. I'm sure they'll reject the picture (well, my sister-in-law had to retake hers. Apparently she should have tied her hair back. There was nothing to indicate that you have to do that in their advice!). My dad always reckoned that security people at airports always "know" what people look like from their passport pictures. Hmm.

Lost Boy - it's sixty six pounds for a standard postal renewal or application through the post office, not taking into account the cost of photos. It depends how much you intend to holiday abroad. You could wait until you're very old, by which time it might be free. As for the photo, you might as well resign yourself to the fact that it'll just get worse and worse for each ten years' renewal.

Dive - that photo's very alluring? Bloody pervert. Actually, anyone who thinks I'm a grumpy old bastard should check Dive's response to a meme on his latest post. It had me larffing my socks off.

Boz - welcome. Are you that bloke in Morrissey's band? I'm not sure that everybody smiling in photos would be a good thing - who wants to see gummy old men, Shane MacGowan or Linda Robson smiling up at them? We should consider the hardworking passport security people and what they have to endure in their day to day work after all.
There are three things in life that are unavoidable.

Taxes, death and bad passport photos.
My little nephew had to get a passport photo recently and he's 3 months old. By the time the passport was returned he had grown hair and put on 4 pounds a significant percentage of his body weight. What a pointless waste of time.
My passport photo looks like a person with an impairment of some sort, Myra Hindley would definately be an improvement.
Mine is up for renewal this year and I'm dreading it. The thing I hate the most is I have to drive to their office, on a weekday, in a city I hate, hate, hate, driving in, pay a ton of money for parking, wait in line FOREVER to pick up the form, go home, fill it all out, come back and do it again plus pay an arm and a leg for the priviledge. We can't do any of it by mail. Sucks.
Dave G - welcome. You don't know that blogger DavetheF do you? Is there a blogging Dave for every letter in the alphabet? Is there a Dave H out there?

Istvanski - well, my photo was pretty bad but at least it isn't as bad as that picture of Iain Dowie on your site. Come to think of it, Ian Dowie's passport photo must be pretty frightening.

Realdoc - my last passport photo kind of worked against me because I decided to go blonde for a few years, and would always get a few suspicious glances at security checks. I've gone back to brunette now so they can't use that against me. Hah!

Kyahgirl - sounds like a pretty lousy system. Is it like that in the whole of North America? Perhaps that explains why so few people from the US bother to get a passport then.
I've been putting off getting my driving licence updated for similar passport-photo-trauma related issues. Getting one for my new staff card was bad enough. Very Prisoner Cell Block H. In a way, you have to admire the consistency of quality you can expect from the photo booth experience.
I grew a beard. What a palaver. It now means I have to keep the sodding thing for at least another 9 years or until I go bald and need another picture.
A woman shouting at a window on an East Midlands estate at 2 in the morning? You've met my neighbours then?

There's nothing quite so sophisticated as sitting in your garden in summer trying to ignore the woman over the fence who's bawling at her teenage kids because one of them taped 'Anal Academy' over her copy of 'Steel Magnolias.' Not just 'a porn film.' No, she was quite happy to share the film title and indeed it's plot with every house in a mile's radius. You can't get that kind of culture just anywhere.
Now you get the chance to look at the picture as many times as you like before it gets printed. Mine still looks crap though. Damn you photo booth at the Hounslow Treaty Centre! (it's better than my work pass picture though)
Doris - welcome. Blimey, I'm doing a lot of welcoming because of this post. Have I been recommended somewhere, as in "take pity on this woman, she is crap"? Er, anyway - yeah, is there someone in the world who has had a photo booth picure that doesn't make them look like a munter? Halle Berry? George Clooney?

Richard - yeah, well you will have to face ten years of being regarded as a terrorist suspect.

Martin - um, welcome! The thing is, neighbours like that are quite entertaining but the problem is having to interact with them. You have to make eye contact with them and stuff, and they expect to have long conversations with you, otherwise they'll turn on you and say "yer that stuck up. People like you think yer better than the likes of us but yer just SCUM", then you will get the evil stares every time you see them ... not that I'm speaking from experience ... well, I am really ...

Billy - hello from the other side of the world (waves). I got my picture from the photo booth at Asda, predictably enough. I'm not sure if there's another photo booth in Bexleyheath now actually.
The most recent lot I had done were, so I thought, actually quite nice.

Until a friend of mine saw them and burst out laughing. 'You look like you've got downs syndrome!' he said.
I'm reasonably sure I'm not the bloke out of Morrissey's band. I would almost certainly know. Or at at least just a few people down the list of knowing.
I remember a friend of mine being detained for some time at Spainsh customs because he'd dyed his hair bright red. As if some dissident was sat at home going "Hmmm, what's the best way of slipping unseen into the country? I know! Red hair. That'll fox them."

Although if I was working on airport security, I'd stop anyone who I thought looked like a bit of a dick. So fair play to them really.
Spinsterella - oh well, that's what friends are for. At least he didn't say "you look like Ian Dowie".

Boz - I'm glad that's cleared up then. Otherwise I might say something horrible about vegans and then be worried about it getting back to the uberMoz.

Del - stopping anyone at airport security who looked like a bit of a dick would be most unfair. How would Vernon Kay and that bloke from Razorlight ever get through customs and carry on with their exciting jetset lifestyle?
spins, my mum brought me to the doctor repeatedly when I was a baby because she was convinced I had Down's. Perhaps we are related.
Betty's Utility Room - reuniting long lost family members since 2004.

Oooh, it gives me a lovely warm glow all over.
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