Don't forget your passport...

Victoria Hawkins: AAARGH... vanity. Okay, so I'll come clean. The picture of me on this page wasn't exactly taken recently - this century, granted - but more than that I won't be drawn on.

Victoria Hawkins

AAARGH... vanity. Okay, so I'll come clean. The picture of me on this page wasn't exactly taken recently - this century, granted - but more than that I won't be drawn on. Suffice to say that when it was decreed that 'new' ones should be taken about a year ago and what resulted was this portrait of an ageing old hag, for once I threw all my toys out of my pram (along with my foundation, mascara and lipstick) and insisted on sticking with the old one.

It must have been sometime in the late 1900s that my last ten year passport photo was taken. Must, she says, because though the current passport doesn't run out until October this year, apparently you need to get your new one six months BEFORE expiry date or you're up the Khyber Pass if you want to go travelling. I only just learned that little gem by default when an observant travel bod noticed that mine won't be any good to use when I go away this July.

The maths on that says to me that surely we've all been slightly conned. Isn't there a trades description issue there if a 'ten year' passport isn't good for that long? But then who wants to pick a fight with the good old UK Border Agency and the Home Office, not I.

So fast forward to the photo booth in Boots two days ago. Gawd, what a horror that spewed out of its slot! Apart from the fact that it cost £4 for the privilege, the wild, staring face made a fairly good impression of a cadaver drained of blood with pencil thin lips and brown marble eyes… could I live with it? No. So it was back into town and on to Happy Snaps with full slap on. Unfortunately for me it had been a bit windy and wet getting there.

£5.99 and two goes later we now have Mrs H with some colour in her face. It's not ab fab (but it would take a lot of plastic and cosmetic surgery to alter that) but, aaargh, what a bad hair day. Can I live with this one for the next decade? Course I can. Me, vain? Naaah.

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PS A very nice lady in the Post Office (remember those) advises that you should indeed renew your passport early but the 'lost' months are added on to the new expiry date, which means my new one should start off valid for 10½ years.