I shouldn’t be doing this – I’ve got a commission to contribute 10 features to a food book and an interview with a Vice-Admiral (whom I addressed as a Vice-Admirable yesterday, but that’s another blog) to prepare for. But I’ve finally got a little time at my desk and I can’t help but share that I’ve been reeling this week from a brush with bureaucracy – actually, I feel bowled out by the leg-spinners of bureaucracy, to use a cricket metaphor and show solidarity with our boys at the Oval.
Eight (that’s right EIGHT) brown envelopes arrived on Monday amongst which were notices for car tax (okay, knew about that), income tax (have recently returned to self-employment), changing child benefit (Child One leaving school, Child Two staying on for A levels, Child Three still going through the processes and the step-children not on my books) and, most horrifically of all, a demand that I renew my driving licence. This last absolutely floored me. What, I hear you cry – have I been on the wrong side of the law and been banned for a while? Have I lost my old licence? Have I mislaid something vital?
No, it turns out that since I have a relatively up-to-date photo-style driving licence, complete with a picture of me, of course, I now have to have it regularly renewed. No matter that I look exactly the same as I looked when I had that photo done (ie. fierce and, I hope, unrecognisable to all who love me); no matter that there must be hundreds of thousands of drivers with paper (ie photo-less) licences; no matter, in fact, that it’s actually only three years since I last updated my driving licence (but not my photo) because I moved house. Why, I can’t help wondering, was I not asked to update my photo then? If there was an option to do so I must have missed it. So it is I find myself having to fork out another £20 to keep a faceless bureaucrat in a job in Wales. It also dawns on me that since I’m obviously “in the system” I will now have to change my driving licence regularly. At least updating your passport is optional on the grounds that if you don’t leave the country, you don’t need to worry that you look 20 years older than the last startled photo-booth image you submitted to the passport office (who, incidentally, have amazingly efficient, helpful and kind staff and no, I’m not being ironic, they really are stars).
I really hope that plans for ID cards continue to be put on hold. Besides my national insurance number card (which doesn’t have a photo, thankfully) and my recently renewed passport, my driving licence is surely ID enough. If ever I get pulled over by the police for anything I do wrong, I hope they recognise me from my soon-to-be submitted photo. I doubt that they will – in fact, I hope that they don’t. No-one ever looks that bad in reality – do they? Not even if they’ve been caught at it.