It’s strange how, sometimes, when you are very busy, that you find yourself turning to tasks that you could easily have done at a time when you were less busy. I think it may have something to do with the flow of adrenalin. Ask a busy man, as the saying goes. Anyway, last Saturday, in the midst of a hectic schedule, I decided to renew my passport. It was due to expire at the end of next March, and I had thought about doing this a number of times recently. With Brexit looming I had pondered at one stage whether I should apply for an Irish passport, as Father Lawrence had done, God rest his soul. The process, however, of proving my Irish ancestry, faltered with the lack of being able to trace records from remote parts of Connemara and the Sligo-Donegal border, and so I never proceeded down this road. My last two passports, European Union of course, had been issued at the British Embassy in Dublin, where I was residing on each occasion. I Googled how best I might renew it this time, and settled on a service offered by the Post Office called Check and Send.
So it was that, last Saturday, with the rain bucketing down, I headed into West Nile Street Post Office. Busy as they were, so near to Christmas, the staff member who dealt with me could not have been more helpful, more courteous, or more efficient. I had debated with myself what glasses to wear for my photograph. I recently acquired new glasses but they are for distance sight only and I felt that, if I was going to be required to read and sign anything, I might be better wearing my old varifocals. In the end, I wore my varifocals, but had my other glasses in my bag so that I could change them for the photo. Standing in the photo booth next to the post office counter, I provided all the necessary information and handed over my old passport. When it came time for my photo to be taken, I was advised to take my glasses off as they weren’t allowed now for digital photos, so all my discernment about which glasses to wear was pointless. I’m not sure if this is simply to avoid glare or if it’s because, when you pass through the e-gates at airports, glasses have to be removed before facing the camera.
I had read, and had also been advised at the counter, not to use this Check and Send method of renewal if I was hoping to travel within the next 4 to 6 weeks. I didn’t expect that this would be a problem for me. I don’t expect to be going anywhere any time soon. I also paid a small fee to get my old passport sent back to me by registered post, just in case. I was surprised then that, no sooner had I stepped out into West Nile Street, I received a text and email to say my application was in process; on Monday I received another text and email to say they had received my old passport and then another to say it was being returned as promised; on Tuesday I received another text and email to say my renewal application had been approved, and on Wednesday I received another text and email to say that my new passport was in the post. Then today (Thursday) I had another text and email to tell me to sign the new passport with a black ballpoint pen before I use it. How efficient is that? So, I await my new, blue, UK passport – but I am still a bit saddened and annoyed by Brexit.
Father Justinian had his cataract removed last Monday, thus bringing to an end his period of self-isolation. Everything went very smoothly, but he wasn’t offered the Covid-19 vaccine as we thought might happen. Still, I’m sure he will get it before too long, and before any of the rest of us get it. Father Gareth is keeping a careful eye on how bad things seem to getting in Wales with Covid-19, but, to his great relief, his mum received good test results recently. Father Antony is preparing for another Covid test as he will be celebrating Mass, accompanied by Deacon Joe, on a ship on Christmas Day. This will be the last log for a couple of weeks as I will take a wee break from it now until the Christmas period is over. So, my thanks to all of you who read the log. I wish you a very happy and holy Christmas with every blessing for the coming year, which please God will be different from this year. As always, and especially at this blessed time, protect yourselves, protect others, and protect Christ in your lives.