Every page tells a story
Our passport renewals have been completed in ten days, from start to finish. Remarkably efficient and with full reassurance of progress at every stage, so full marks to whatever department of the Home Office it is that manages the process. Though the Durham office got off to a head start with managing my renewal, their Peterborough colleagues won the race, returning my Hero’s passport a bit more quickly than mine.
It’s only when I was without my passport that I recognised how much I value it. Yes, there’s all the nationality and identity significance but it also contains the records of nine year’s travelling. Though I had looked through it now and again, usually whilst waiting at immigration somewhere or other, I hadn’t looked in enough detail to be able to spot the differences in the new design. For example, I’d overlooked the fact that every page has an engraving of a British bird on it.
I had grumbled at the need to renew it early because I had run out of clean pages before the ten year deadline. I had wished that all immigration officers had been as neat as those in Japan, who squeeze their sticker and stamp tight into the corner and don’t take a whole page by stamping bang slap in the middle. I notice the Indonesian stamp on the next page is placed with similar care.
Please take note, Ecuador! Not only is your stamp way bigger than necessary, you took the whole page and stamped both in and out upside down too. A training opportunity if ever there was one!
When it comes to taking up a full page though, the visas take the biscuit. I did like seeing my name джиллиан transcribed into the Cyrillic alphabet though and my last two passports have had an Arabic translation too, as a result of our Libyan adventure
My new passport doesn’t have any of those features, though I did enjoy spending time looking closely at the empty pages, because of course, they are not empty at all. They are filled with the most exquisite detail and I was immediately inspired to find out more.
Firstly, the photo page and so on is at the front, which seems sensible since it’s the most frequently viewed page. Having looked closely at those details, making sure they were all correct (!) I turned over to find a portrait of Isaac Newton. Then I looked more closely. No - it isn’t Isaac Newton at all, but the clockmaker John Harrison (the clue being the clocks in the background!) It was checking his name that sent me to the internet and the webpage about the new passport design. (How new is “new”? I have no idea)
Having gone through, page by page (with some repeats because we have the larger, 48 page versions) I looked at the other security features, though I didn’t check to see if the fancy, three-coloured twine used to stitch it together really did fluoresce in UV light.
It’s all very smart, more colourful than before and I look forward to taking it to as many interesting places as its predecessor, whose wings have now been clipped.
I just noticed the other difference, too.