Stuck in No Man’s Land

I mentioned the slight Pog shaped incident on the very last leg of an amazing honeymoon in a previous post, but forgot to add the story here.

My passport is seven years old and I do look quite different in its photo.  Not in a plastic surgery sort of way (which is one of the few reasons you’re asked to update your passport photo), but in a ‘I had very different hair back then and it was a very bad hair day when I had the passport photo taken’ kind of a way.

Our honeymoon involved a number of different flights and I did get a few double takes, but ultimately every passport control waved me through (I was going to say ‘with a smile’, but passport control people don’t really seem to smile, do they?). Anyway, there were no big issues until we came home.

At passport control coming back into Gatwick, the digital passport thing didn’t work. It wasn’t the chip that was the issue – -it turned out it couldn’t match my actual face with my passport photo, so I was sent to another queue to see an actual human.

Despite the fact that (presumably) this is a job where you’re trained to deal with recognising that an element of change can take place over almost a decade, she also didn’t believe it was me,  so asked me to use a different camera which (again, presumably) can identify the key features and compare – nose, chin, eyes etc. I failed. I also failed the third camera they tried…

She asked for additional photo ID. I had nothing.  In slight desperation I showed her my Facebook profile and then realised that the name didn’t match my passport.

I told her the man in my profile photo was my shiny new husband, and he was standing over there – look – over there, waiting for me.  She didn’t even turn round.

I offered my selfie photos on my phone as they went back more than seven years so she could see how I’d changed. Apparently that wasn’t terribly official.

She got her manager. Her manager made me tuck my hair behind my ears and stare straight at her while she scrutinised me and I panicked a fair bit.  By this point lots of people were watching with interest…

Eventually she decided she was pretty sure I was the person in the passport and finally let me across that magic line between no man’s land and the UK.  The comment from Himself after watching the fun and games? ‘Well, that photo is a bit Myra Hindley… ‘

I have been saying that my passport isn’t due to run out until 2025 so I am REALLY pleased a new passport is one of the things I need to update with my new name BUT, we’ve just booked a holiday with Himself’s kids next month, and the turnaround time isn’t fast enough to get my update done before then.  I’ll take my driving licence with me this time….but that has the same photo too!  Who knows what will happen then…. :o)

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