Tuesday, 8 July 2014

'So, when are you going back to the UK?'

This, dear readers, is one particular question that I am getting rather tired of answering. Why? Because I simply DON'T KNOW. The summer has arrived, and when the summer arrives, there are several things that I always do: I consume even more gelato than usual, I like to go to the beach and, perhaps most importantly, I travel home to the UK for a few weeks to see family, friends and generally catch up on all things Britain (yes, this includes eating pork pie, watching ridiculous amounts of Poirot re-runs and reading gossip magazines-a plenty). So why haven't I booked my flight? Why aren't I already getting my jumpers and jeans ready to put in my suitcase? (yes, that was a dig at UK weather...my bad). I haven't done any of this because: I don't have a PASSPORT. Yes, I too, along with thousands of other disgruntled Brits, have been affected by the big passport backlog. A simple passport renewal which was supposed to take four weeks, has now taken almost seven and I am starting to get, well, somewhat MIFFED.

Bless all of the concerned Italians, who say things like: Can't you use your carta d'identità? (no, it isn't valid for overseas travel). Can't you call the British ambassador or some other official here in Italy? (no, because all of the passport business is now done directly in the UK, not here in Europe as it was done in previous years via a hub in France, if I'm not mistaken) and my favourite? Do you not know anyone in the passport office? Does your dad know anyone? Can't you call in some sort of favour? No, dearest Italian friends, I cannot, for the UK bureaucratic system (unlike the Italian one...) doesn't really work like that. I'm then met with a load of blank faces, because people can't quite get their heads around it all. But...it's the UK! They say, gesticulating wildly. You are all so organised and efficient and proper! Indeed, UK, aren't we just? Aren't we JUST?!

So here I am. Sat in my hot apartment, wasting all sorts of time checking the 'passport tracking system' online. I even called them, twice, and despite the fact that I was spoken to by a VERY polite Irish man (whose name I didn't quite catch because, typically, I live in a place with atrocious phone signal) who told me that I was UNBELIEVABLY patient (yes, yes I am. For now) I still know NOTHING. NIENTE. NICHTS.

My application is, and probably still will be, 'in progress' for the foreseeable future (Yes yes, aren't I just a negative Nancy. Well, can you blame me?) That is, unless some nice, sympathetic person reading this knows someone who works for the UK passport office...

No, I don't want four thanks...just one will do...