Summer. Fun in the sun. British summer. Fun in the rain. Especially this last week (except Thursday I suppose). To be honest, I probably wasn’t going to bother writing many more of these. I wrote at the end of the last one that Facebook isn’t ‘where it’s at anymore’. I said that it’s all about a WordPress blog where you sit and pick holes in stuff. Now I’m not too sure. Probably doesn’t put me in a great light.. Probably won’t make it stop though.
I did however think that a summer post would be a good thing to write. Have had a few ideas for a while and not really done anything about them. It is summer now though and it wasn’t back then I guess.. That helps. Also, I’m trying to get this done before I leave for the annual trip to French country on Saturday at 6:00am. We go every year – it’s annual – and I still don’t speak any French. At the start, I didn’t even like French bread.
So then, some holiday things. Passports are a good start. That £70-£80 burden that you need to renew every 10 years. 5 for a child of course, and that day can’t come soon enough. Basically, the passport photo machine screwed mine up. Those machines that deliberately annoy, wind up and ultimately con the customer into spending more money than is necessary for more pictures than are necessary with an experience which is about as enjoyable as a holiday in the Sahara would be for Pingu. Don’t know how he’d get there of course, maybe the Madagascar penguins could help..
First of all, when I had mine done about 3 years ago, I was too short. 2 pillows had to be taken from the bedding department of Sainsbury’s so that when I sat on the seat at the very highest level, I wasn’t staring at the white walls of the booth. Next step, put the money in. There’s no insurance here – no way of taking the pictures, looking at all of them, making a choice and putting in £1 to print 1 photo – you put your £4 into the machine’s greedy slot, take one picture – decline. Take another picture – decline. Get stuck with the 3rd picture, £4 down and walking away with 3 extra pictures which will sit in a drawer until you need some more ID by which time you’ve changed and realise that the pictures are out dated and you need new ones. Why decline the first 2 pictures? The machine messes them up. Actually, the machine forces you to unwittingly mess them up yourself, get stuck with pictures you don’t need and have to do it all again.
Firstly, the stupid voice. That emotionless but somehow smug voice that knows it’s about to take you for a ride. The machine warms you up a little. It shows you pictures of how people have messed theirs up in the past. I was laughing by this point. I seemed to find pictures of people doing it wrong funny. I mean, how could you actually turn up to a booth, look in the complete wrong direction, take the picture, think ‘I’m happy with this’ and send it in? Next is the way that when you’ve gone through all of the patronising instructions that are about as interesting to watch as a metronome, in the smug voice, it says ‘Ready?… Ok… Here we go!’ but doesn’t take the picture. There’s a gap of about 5 seconds. Enough time to laugh or grimace. Picture 1 ruined. I reckon there’s a smile detector active for the first picture.
3 paragraphs about passport machines and I’m only on the first picture.. As I said, I’ll probably never stop sitting here, picking holes in stuff.
Onto picture 2. Admittedly, not the machine’s fault and I guess it’s the reason that you get 3 pictures. The machine set up the picture as normal, but this time I was ready. My face was straighter than a ruler – despite the machine’s best efforts. I waited, and waited. The smile detector must have realised that I was too good and admitted defeat. It took the photo… Just as Dad decided to poke his head into the booth to see if I was finished. I turned to see what was happening. Basically then, picture 2 comprised of 2 people. One looking at the screen, and the passport applicant looking towards the door of the booth. Only one shot left.
There’s no dramatic end to this long, sorry state of a story. Fairly soon, I’ll leave you to scrolling down your Facebook/Twitter news feed. Picture 3 was just about acceptable and I can’t wait to get rid of it next year. Tomorrow though, I’ll have to show this dreadful passport picture to customs officers both English and French (if they bother to turn up of course, probably on strike). And get called Benjamin. Great.
This is it for the first part, I was going to do it all in one but as you can see, I’m nearly 900 words in and haven’t even got as far as Portsmouth, let alone France. Will write part 2 in a fortnight. If I remember.. But as for tomorrow, off to France. And I still don’t like their bread..
Don’t really like Croissants either. Breakfast times can be a little grim in France. I think we do bakeries better. I would say that though. I work in one.. Thinking about it, I may wait until I’m in France to publicise this a bit. You’re probably reading this later than was intended..