It is one of those things I had been putting off for ages and then all of a sudden, I needed a passport and quickly. I filled in my details online and discovered that my first attempt at renewing my passport using the online service was declined because my photos were not quite right – some how over the last 12 years my face has changed too much that my photo could not be recognised by the systems they had. The only option I had left was to use the 1 Day fast track system and take myself off to Liverpool and do the whole thing in person. £128 lighter in my bank, my booking was made for Monday to head to the passport office.
Now a passport is somewhat THE most official document that there is. There are various checks and hoops to jump through to get one and I expected the same with the renewal process, which is why I had not been bothered to get it done. I had this vision in mind of what the passport office would look like. I imagined something like Gringots from Harry Potter, big oversized wooden counters with old ladies, so stern with their tiny glasses, looking at you and inspecting every inch of your signature and face to make sure they all matched up. I expected waiting for hours in hard wooden seating, with just the echo of clicking footsteps and the pressing of keys on some form of archaic computer system. I honestly expected that because I had the morning from hell, the fact that I got there one hour after my appointment time that I would be sent away with no more than dismissive wave and told to pay my renewal fee again.
Instead I was wrong, wrong on every single count. Yes I did have the morning from hell and I arrived in a flurry to be met by some rather charming security guards who briefed me about their Sunday evening and how much they had been drinking and how hungover they were. Once through security it was into a very modern, clean, stark building with white and grey fixtures and fittings. No colour, except the large map of the world on the wall, illuminated by blue LED’s. The desk clerk to book me in was welcoming and happy to see me, they had got my message that I would be late as I called from the road, and they gave me a call number. I had not even sat down when my number was called. I was expecting a long wait as I had kept them waiting. A quick glance over my documents, and that was it, I was asked to come back in 4 hours time and the next person was called. It was easier than I thought – now I just had four hours to kill in Liverpool.
After various coffees and the most delicious breakfast I have had in a long time, It was back up to the large grey coloured building where the same security guards made jokes with me about their hangovers getting worse and I told them to drink more water, my passport was waiting in a bright yellow envelope, probably the only thing that had any colour on it in the whole building! I was asked to sign a collections slip and that was it. Passport in hand I wandered back to my car wondering why I expected any different.