I wish she’d let me show you her passport photo. My mum, that is. It has more in common with a celebrity mugshot than a legal document. Right there, immortalised in thumbnail form, is someone I love, respect, look up to, and hold in the highest regard, in a never-before-seen moment of absolute exhaustion, emotional wreckage and sincere submission to The Man. It’s 35x45mm of pure schadenfreude
But, believe me, it is hilarious. Looking at it now, and ritualistically pulling open that photo page in the check-in queue of every family holiday since, it’s had us all – me, my brother and sister, my dad and mum – snapped in half with laughter. Funny as hell now, even more so knowing what an absolute disaster the hours leading up to mum looking battle-beaten in a Newport passport booth were.
“Those chubby nerdlinger cheeks deserved every second of the savage windburn they got”
It must have been at about 5am that we heard the words, “I’m sorry, but this passport is out of date, Mrs Sayer. We can’t let you, or any of your children, who are all on this passport too, fly.”
No pleading or bargaining or bribing was going to make a difference. After months and months of travelling an hour each way to our ‘local’ dry-slope for ski lessons, weeks of power-skidding across the kitchen in excitement, days of packing bags the size of hatchbacks, and an early-morning wake-up call to travel to Bristol airport, one out-of-date passport had ripped us from our first ski holiday, and anchored us firmly to the UK.
Mum crumbled under this ten-tonne realisation and immediately felt sick. Dad didn’t know what to do. I didn’t get it. Pretty soon, what I did get, was that we were back in the car and high-tailing it to Wales to try our luck at getting Mum a fresh new passport.