On Her Majesty’s Service by Trevor Plumbly
We Brits plonk embassies down all over the place in an effort to reinforce our sense of superiority. I admit that I’ve never paid these far flung monuments too much attention until recently.
When my eyesight decided that it didn’t need me anymore, little things like the driving licence and passport got ignored. Rally driving isn’t on my to-do list, but I figured the passport should be kept valid. Problem was it’s already three years out of date. I’d never bothered to adopt NZ citizenship; bugger that black vest, colonial geezer stuff, British and bloody proud of it! A quick call to Wellington, an up-to-date photo and a few bob should sort things out.
A disembodied voice informed me that the embassy was closed, but undeterred I rang the consulate in Auckland. The boredom of holding for an operator was broken by another robotic voice encouraging me to continue to hold. After 30 minutes, no answer. Under siege? Strychnine in the Earl Grey? Visions of dead lackeys and operators hands frozen in rigor to the auto-reply buttons, spurred me to go up the ladder to ‘consulate services’. My relief at hearing a human voice was dashed by a young twerp, who, assisted by public school waffle, managed to elevate surliness and disinterest to Olympic level.
And did those feet?
He (the twerp) shunted me to London who, in turn, palmed me off to Liverpool. Despite not having left the desk, I was beginning to feel quite well travelled. Sadly though, I’m still marooned in NZ, stranded by those too intellectually impoverished by red tape to get off their arses and renew a simple document. So why the delay? I’m 76 and blind, so drug running and terrorism can’t be factors, therefore it must be the civil soldiers’ inability to think beyond a printed form. ‘The Bulldog Breed’? Ha! These days, the old mutt’s got ADS and rubber teeth.