Thursday, 20 March 2008

Hair and My Homeland

I mentioned that I had to renew my passport recently. It expires the 24th of March, which means it was actually 10 years ago when Bill and I decided to have a long weekend in Paris for his 50th birthday. We went to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner and I lost my passport (out of my back pocket, would you believe, served me right). The whole process of getting an emergency passport was a riot and I'll have to tell you about that sometime.

This time it wasn't such a riot, in fact it was rather traumatic and I learned a lot about what not to do in the period leading up to passport renewal time, so I thought I'd share my hard earned wisdom.

1. Don't change your hair colour to a shade of red you're not sure about yet; particularly don't try a new colouring product the day before you have your photograph taken -- the photo you have to live with for the next 10 years.

2. Don't write an embarrassed and thus slightly flippant email to the US Embassy in London asking advice about what hair colour to put on the application, explaining about the history of your hair and its real colour; they'll give you a textbook answer. They are after all only bureaucrats and why should they care if immigration officials deny you entry to any country and you end up like Tom Hanks in The Terminal?

3. Don't have your hair cut at the local beauty college even if it is only £6 and the first time you went it was about the best haircut you ever had and took a luxurious 3 hours. The next time you go you may get the worst cut ever seen (hint: when the girl's hands start shaking she's in unfamiliar territory).

4. Don't go have your picture made on the windiest, wettest day so that your hair looks a bit mangled in addition to being a strange colour and cut.

5. Don't slob around wearing any old thing for so long that you nearly forget how to put together a colour coordinated outfit for the photo.

6. Don't use sunscreen so religiously that cosmetics companies don't manufacture make-up in a colour sufficiently pale to look natural with your peculiar shade of red, wind-arranged hair; or perhaps the real point is don't go live in a country where you learn to be grateful for daylight, never mind actual sunshine.

7. Don't gain more weight than you're prepared to state on your weblog entry so that you don't really recognise yourself in photographs any longer (or don't wish to).

8. Don't look at the digital images when the girl asks if you are satisfied with your picture; you never will be, there is no such thing and she's too young and daft to know that.

In fact, the people I've talked to who have renewed their passports are so universally shocked at what 10 years has done to them, I'd recommend that you don't get a passport at all. Just stay in your country of origin; it's much easier that way.

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