Café Crem

Art, Music and Words around The Coffee Table

Walking the Dogma – Part 1 –


The topic of this post comes out of an entirely unrelated emergency which I shall now describe for your amusement, before coming, eventually, to my point. Trust me, there will be some religious context down the line.

It’s a long story, better told in two parts, so don’t hold your breath. think of it as a mini-series, or better yet, a bloody soap opera.

As most of you know, I am what is known in the “biz” as a frequent flyer. Bareky a couple of weeks go by without me having to go off somewhere for a gig, and when you factor in Miki and I’s nomadic lifestyle, it’s pretty hard to say where I’ll be from one day to the next. With that in mind, and my passport rapidly running towards it’s March 15th, 2008 zero hour, I had to carefully select the moment when I sent it off for renewal, and where I should ask them to send the new one. I had already established that I could apply for a new British Passport at the consulate in Madrid. I spent weeks in preparation, downloading the forms and painstakingly filling them, paying careful attention to fill in every detail. You know the sort of thing – Do you intend to use your footwear for bomb-making equipment? if no, proceed to section 5.

I went to a professional photographer who advertised a specialist service for passport photographs. I planned ahead on one of my trips to the UK, ensuring I could get my photo signed on the back by an accredited person. (mine was a civil servant, but if you want my opinion, they’re exactly the sort of people not to be trusted.) I then packaged everything up ready, and on my return from the UK on march 2nd, I popped my old passport in with the application and sent it urgently to Madrid.

We were in Turre, Almeria, when I posted it, and some days later we were wandering around the Sierras in the motorhome, miles from civilisation. my mobile indicated I had a new message….Quelle surprise! It was from the approved courier company used by the British Consulate! It read – Your new British passport has arrived at our Benidorm office. It further indicated that I should ring the number provided if I wasn’t going to be at our home in Albir to receive it. I phoned, and established i could go to their sorting office and collect my new passport at my leisure. We were returning home the following Sunday, so we made arrangements to go in Monday morning, march 17th, safe in the knowledge that I wasn’t flying until that Friday night, March 22nd.

Monday came, and we collected the package, smiling at how smoothly everything had gone, I ripped it open. Inside were a number of items, none of which were anything remotely resembling a new passport. They’d rejected my application. What part of – Your new British passport has arrived at our Benidorm office – is supposed to give me a clue then???

If they’d sent me a text saying, all your old crap and the rejected form are lying in an in tray in bendidorm, so move your arse, I might have cottoned on. And to think, we used to run an Empire with this bureaucracy. no wonder it, like my application, all went down the toilet.

I manfully struggled against the urge to destroy property as my stress levels soared. Apparently I was so stressed in those following hours, Miki was scared I would have a heart attack. I tried to gather my thoughts. I made a flurry of phone calls, but despite ordering several types of pizza, and getting and old woman threatening to call the police, I was getting nowhere, so I hit upon the idea of making several phone calls to the right people. The consulate in nearby Alicante offered me the entirely useless solution of me giving them 80 euros in exchange for a piece of paper that would get me back to England, but not allow me out again. As my flight back was on Easter Sunday, I would have no possibility to get a passport once back in England as everywhere was shut to celebrate all the religious malarkey. in the circumstances “Jesus Christ” seemed like an appropriate response to their offer. The helpline for the consulate was much more productive. It was certainly productive for Abtrans, a singularly profit-making company that “administered” the helpline on behalf of the consulate and charged the hapless caller 1.16 euros a minute to tell you how impossible your situation was. The woman suggested I should drive to Madrid and throw myself on their mercy, ringing off with a not altogether optimistic “good luck”.

It had turned out that my application had been turned down because my head was too small. yes, that’s right. My “official” passport photos had given me a measurement of 23 cms from my chin to the crown of my head. Apparently, it has to be at least 29cms. so when anybody now asks an englishman, “why the long face?” now you know. ” What’s that in your luggage sir? an AK 47? Oh, just go on through sir, at least your head is 29cms…we can’t be too careful you know.”

Although tempted to got to the original guy and rearrange his face so it measured 29cms from top to bottom, I went to another photographer. Satisfied, and clutching five horribel photos of me with an enormous head, i returned home, and had my first piece of good luck. Our neighbour is a retired nurse and a British subject to boot, so was able to sign my photo. We checked the opening times of the consulate. too late to go today. It re-opened at 8.30 a.m. the following morning. A 1,000 kilometre round trip ahead of me, I resolved to leave at 3 am that morning. I retired to bed early, stressed to the max.




March 19, 2008 - Posted by | Entertainment, events, God in our life, humor, life, photography, random, religion, travel, writing | , , , ,


  1. Well, my dear. THe suspence is KILLING ME. But then I think I can guess the outcome (or you wouldn’t be telling this story so soon after).

    My own passport stories are not nearly as thrilling as yours. I’m hoping you at least had the opportunity to stage a first rate hissy fit in the British consulate in Madrid? Way before the modern version of terrorism dawned my passport was stolen in Greece and I discovered that this is the situation that labels you as a possible enemy to your country and you are treated with suspicion and given many hurtles to jump through. The worst of it though, was that I had just fallen in love with a handsome Greek on an island (I was 21) and I had to leave to go to the mainland to try to get a new passport. Such horrendous bad luck? Or maybe he’s the one who stole it? Never considered that before now.

    Comment by Susan | March 19, 2008

  2. Oh Kev, what a story! I can feel the frustration!! But after reading Susan’s comment, I am quite interested in that love story on a Greek island….I can already hear the waves crashing against the shore…

    Comment by shelleymhouse | March 20, 2008

  3. Oh yes, Susan, tell us the Greek love story!!! And in fact, an horrendous bad luck! But be sure, if it was him stealing the passport, surely only because he didn’t want you to go away from the island… Did you go back to the island then?
    I am curious: which language did you speak with your Apollo? I have been in Greece about 20 years ago, and I found it very difficult to communicate there, although I normally know enough languages… but it was not only a question of language, I found the Greeks quite “closed”, secrete, impenetrable… must it be love to reach them?

    Comment by Miki | March 20, 2008

  4. […] the saga of my passport problems (read Part 1 here), with a religious […]

    Pingback by Walking the Dogma - Part 2 - « Café Crem: “God in Our Life” | March 20, 2008

  5. […] Walking the Dogma -Part 1 – […]

    Pingback by Walking the Dogma - Part 3 - « Café Crem: “God in Our Life” | March 21, 2008

  6. Kafka is eternal, my friend! So is bureaucracy… We are at their mercy (or if you prefer, at God’s mercy, which, for me, reads out more like Hasard/Chance…)

    Some 6 months ago, they gave me the gratuity of medications (and it usually costs me 70-100$ per month)… A few days ago they take it away… I did not budge and didn’t say anything… Lord has giveth and the Lord has taketh away…
    (I’m full of religious sayings…)

    Comment by iondanu | March 21, 2008

  7. How did you get a mobile phone signal in Turre Sierra????

    Still, if you have one of the old style residencias with a photo on you can get back into Spain! Pity they don’t give them out any more.

    Comment by David Jackson | June 2, 2008

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