Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Wednesday, 12 September 2012
A couple of people asked to see what I was going on about yesterday, when I was trying to describe what I liked about my new passport, so here are a couple of discreet scans of it, excluding numbers and flattering photos of me.
Her Britannic Majesty continues to stick up for us as she has been doing for 70 years, and the mighty English Oak provides shade for the residents of a fictitious alms-house, as well as being a reminder to Johnny Foreigner that we still have the timber to build mightier warships from it, should they get uppity any time in the future.
The main page (which contains too much sensitive information to show any part of at all) has a pastel map of the entire British Isles - including Northern Ireland - and a large seagull floats over it to remind us that they now haunt the inner cities of this green and pleasant land just as much as the tattered ring of coastline that protects old Albion.
There then follows a tour of that coastline, including a few trips into the interior for those lucky enough to be allowed access, and I have the unmistakable conviction that this tour is conducted to the tune of 'Sailing By', the theme of the BBC's beloved shipping forecast, which is designed to bring a tear to the eye of the most hardened, homesick traveller.
There are many holographic images and patterns which light up the pages like the illumination of a medieval manuscript, and holding the leaves at a certain angle reveals even more breath-takingly complex and subtle scenes of lighthouses and sail-boats.
One of the most evocative of the interior scenes is a village cricket-pitch which has an empty park-bench overlooking it, as if to invite you to take a seat and see if you can get your head around the game so that when you are asked awkward questions by Immigration, you can prove the you definitely ARE a British citizen, and have no trouble at all in defining what - exactly - is 'silly mid-off'.
As with all the bridges on Euro notes, none of the locations in the passport really exist, and any similarity to living or dead topographical features (like the 'Durdle Door' cliffs below) is entirely coincidental, so don't go looking for that fishing village; reed-bed; beach; canal; formal park; woodland; mountain; river; moorland, etc. - you won't find them - honest.
The best thing about this design is the same brand of humour that everyone except the Americans found refreshing about the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics. The British obsession with the weather is represented by the lines of isobars that spread downwind of all the locations of each page, and the cheeky little T.V. forecast symbol of the sun - or lack of it - is in a corner of each as well. The fearsomely efficient technology and bureaucracy of the new passport is softened by a self-effacing acknowledgement of certain foibles and human characteristics that make up the True Brit.
I am so pleased that my old passport expired this year of all years - 2012 - because I think we will look back on it in the (not dark, I hope) years to come, and recognise it as time when we all reminded ourselves about what it meant to be born into the second Elizabethan age. Powell and Pressburger could not have made a better job of it in 1942.
(cue 'Land of Hope and Glory' followed by Elgar's 'Nimrod')