Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The End of That Story

Sorry for the long silence. As might reasonably have been deduced, my daughter’s passport did FINALLY arrive, & we did go on holiday, though it was a close call, to put it mildly. I heard nothing on the Monday the Queen’s Messenger was supposed to have arrived with the passport, so I phoned to find out what was going on & the consul said, in a slightly 'undiplomatic’ fashion began:

“Like I said, (“like I said”??? Is this how diplomats are taught to speak in their Foreign Office training?)

“Like I said last week, nothing has changed, but the Queen’s Messenger didn’t manage to find your daughter's passport. It proved too difficult”

Drat there goes another of my illusions. Too difficult for the real life James Bond aka Her Majesty’s Messenger. What hope is there then?

Well that is quite a significant bit of information they didn't bother to give me, so now I had one more chance - Thursdays’ Dip Bag. So what's changed is my stress levels have increased a notch

He informed me that the bag was coming in via Slovenia on Thursday & DHL had been informed that the Dip Bag contained urgent documents & it was imperative it arrived. Oh good well that will really put the wind up the ol’ DHL boys then.

“Come on chaps, the British Embassy say this is imperative so we’d better pull all the stops out, & jolly well see to it that we don’t let the Blighty side down”


They told me the bag always arrived in the morning & was opened by lunchtime. On that Thursday afternoon I was (optimistically, given my circumstances,) having a farewell coffee with a friend before leaving for the summer vacation, (ha!) but by 2.30 I still hadn’t heard anything & was pacing the coffee shop.

How could it be taking this long? In the end I phoned again (this was becoming embarrassing) & was told the consul & staff were in the middle of a business lunch & wouldn’t be back ‘for a while’. Also that the bag hadn’t arrived, but was scheduled to at 4.30. The embassy closes at 5p.m.

So that made me feel SO much better.

Finally at 4.55pm I got the call from the lady who had been dealing with me all through this (except when she passed the buck to the consul), to say my daughter’s passport had arrived. I wanted to go immediately to fetch it & have it clasped in my sweaty palm, but the poor beleaguered woman informed me that she couldn’t be left alone in the embassy for security reasons, just her & the diplomatic bag. She wasn’t allowed to. So I would have to collect it at 8.30 a.m the next day (i.e. 11 hrs before we flew)

I don't know who was more overjoyed, the lady at the embassy or me. If there hadn’t been a glass barrier between us we’d have hugged each other I’m sure. Her delight (& let’s face it relief) were tangible. No more phone calls from a stressy Brit, no more awkward explanations.

She also informed me that as a result of this ‘debacle’ they were amending the British Embassy website for Albania to say allow 8 wks for passport renewal instead of 6 wks (which she said had been allowing for a reasonable leeway anyway). AND also that now Tirana were switching to Paris for the processing of their British passports as Paris was much quicker & let’s face it less earthquake prone than Rome.

SO I’m glad I was at least a useful case study for them... What am I saying? I’m not glad, it was hugely stressful, I’m just glad we had a holiday booked to recover, which now we had the passport, we were able to go on.

And yes thanks the holiday was fantastic.


Anonymous said...

Phew - what a mission! So pleased to hear of the happy ending and that the holiday was worth it.

I be the Embassy lady is missing your dulcet tones by now....

Iota said...

So you have been single-handedly responsible for a full-on change in British Government foreign policy? I'm impressed.

Astrid said...

Welcome back! We missed you!

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Figured you must have been on holiday. hope you had a wonderful time. Adam's passport is set to expire fairly soon, you are reminding me that I need to sort it out now rather than wait until I need it!

Welcome back! said...

well done. battling with the brtis for a passport is no mean feat. winning is almost unheard of. welcome back x