Crazy, Sexy – Part 02

I was the man with the plan. Firstly to travel across land and sea for thirteen hours, like Vasco da Gama, to reach the mythical country of Ireland; Secondly to pick up a strange girl in Dublin; And finally to trek all the way across Ireland, with said girl, like something out of JRR Tolkien, to find the Atlantic Ocean and attend the wedding of someone I’ve never, ever, met. Now WHAT could possibly go wrong?Here be Dragons

To cut a longer story shorter I bought a very expensive pair of shoes which I could stand up in and not much else and as I counted down the days until a passport was needed I instead got a summons from the Home Office to haul me over the coals to prove I wasn’t not a Moldovan identity fraudster… Or a Somali pirate… Or banker from Burkina Faso… They were going to shine the light in my eyes go through the whole world list. It was going to be like the parade of countries at the Olympic opening ceremony. All. Over. Again.

As I painfully wore in my shoes in I inadvertently also started wearing straight through what became apparent as leather souls. What are these rich people paying for?

I was kindo-of banking on an interview not being necessary but instead they wanted to “confirm my identity” and said that they’d ask me “information that someone trying to steal your identity may not know” so I got busy rehearsing my life story but was left wondering that, even if the fraudsters didn’t know this stuff, how did the government?

That was bad enough, but my biggest problem was that when I arrived for the interview they were going to check that I resembled the photograph which I’d sent them. And if they couldn’t identify me from that photo then they wouldn’t even allow me into the interview… And they would withdraw my application… And they would retain the hundred pound fee.

When I turned up at the northern branch of the Home Office I was busy trying to make myself look like a forties’ fascist dictator although the Miss Moneypenny receptionist didn’t comment on this but instead took one look at me and exclaimed: “You’ve never had a passport?!?” in much the same tone as Lee & Herring’s driving instructor comedy sketches where he mocked all his pupils with: “You can’t even drive… I can”.  I was disappointed, after all the worry, when there seemed to be no ceremonial photo comparison and so I asked her when she was going to do it. She smiled and told me that she already had, with some secret screen obviously concealed beneath her desk. She was good.

I was then escorted to a space-age booth where the interviewer arrived from her own personal glass corridor behind the desk which fitted the pod. She asked me lots of stuff about life and it soon became obvious that with every twist and turn you make from childhood onwards that the government are there making notes. I can honestly say that it was an enjoyable chat and when my interviewer asked me why I wanted a passport there was only one answer I could give: Because of a girl.

I honestly can’t remember much of what went on in that interview but some of the things I said must have prompted the killer line halfway through: “I’ve gathered that happiness isn’t your thing.” My government file must be so accurate.

Just before I left she said to me that the interviews are normally only short and they only need the full half-hour if they don’t believe the person that they’re interrogating. The length of my interview: thirty-two minutes.

I told her, jokingly, that my friends had suggested that they were going to deport me somewhere. She said that they wouldn’t do that: she’d just pass me on to the Fraud Department for the full one-hour interview. Second round, here I come!

They don’t tell you on the day whether you’ve passed the identity test, and actually are who you say you are, so you have to wait in hope by the door that you’ll be visited by the postman and not two vanloads of police in body amour. In the mean time I had to employ the services of a cobbler. Which was a first. I’ll be looking for a candlestick maker next.

I needed to get my one-hundred-and-thirty-five pound wedding shoes – the most expensive footwear I have ever owned – re-soled after I wore straight through the posh slate leather souls. That cost twenty-five pounds, it did. I wouldn’t mind, but I only actually paid forty quid for the shoes and so it was kind-of like putting money into a Cypriot bank or a homeless man building an extension on his cardboard box.

Then, after having invested sixty-five pounds in some forty pound shoes, it arrived in the post: I was handed my first proper passport. I guess I passed the test. I suddenly felt like James Bond at the start of one of his films except it has my real name in it and that I probably wasn’t expected to kill anyone. Nothing could stop me now, I thought: Not even if the great god Poseidon were to let slip the chains of the mighty Kraken just off the coast in the Irish sea… Actually, they’d have probably cancelled the ferry crossings for that.

It doesn’t do to mock the Gods and, perhaps inevitably, I was brought down by far less when the crazy, sexy, girl I was planning to visit let me know that she couldn’t make the wedding after all. It was probably for the best, but it was nice to dream for a while. In the end our story was just like Romeo and Juliet, except that it wasn’t so much a tale of star-crossed lovers, and nobody died at the end.

The worst part about it was that I spent ages on the phone trying to cancel the travel tickets and after a long time talking to two different people, from different wings of the travel company, at unknown cost-per-minute, they eventually told me that there were no refunds. Since then I’ve been receiving a barrage of e-mails from them asking me how my trip was. How they mock me so.

What did continue was the problems with the shoes and walking in them became so painful that I ended up having to buy padded inserts at an extra cost of another five pounds. Although even with all this money invested in an item of footwear they’re probably still worth a lot less than forty pounds now. So not only have I moved into negative equity, but with all the layers added I’m now practically orthopaedic.

That’ll teach me for getting idea above my station and saying Yes to a girl!


    1. Well they were bought from Clarks in Manchester, which probably isn’t the retailer of the right wing, although I just found an article to say they’re big in China… And they’re a massive hit amongst the reggae industry in Jamaica!

      Yeah, it’s a shame about the girl. It always is.

  1. “like putting money into a Cypriot bank or a homeless man building an extension on his cardboard box” – hahaha!
    What a great post. Loved it 🙂

    1. Thanks. I was a bit worried it wasn’t as good as the first half. I could have gone to Ireland with the travel tickets – I would have enjoyed the journey – but as it was a fixed return date (and time) about three or four days later then it would have cost a lot in accommodation even if I’d just stayed in the centre of Dublin. On your own it’s a bit less of an adventure… But maybe I should have.

      1. This is one of my favorites of yours. Like the first part it’s very readable, very engaging, and very funny. Don’t take this the wrong way but while reading this I could easily imagine someone preforming this live onstage as a stand-up act. It flows that smoothly, and it’s that funny. Very good writing.

        I will disagree with you, though, on solo travel. Most of my travels have been solo, and to me, that’s when the adventure starts!

    2. That’s not a criticism that’s a brilliant thing to say. Thanks. After I re-evaluated being on here after my first year (I think this coincided with WordPress making annoying changes) I did change my approach to write less, but more longer proper pieces. So this is sort-of what I was aiming for.

      As I am someone that’s at ease with being single (an odd way of putting it, and not always true) I do most things on my own, and generally happy with that, but yet with travel I’ve always been waiting for someone to share such experiences with. But I do get your point! Thanks.

  2. Awww! Saying yes to a girl couldn’t have been more of a rigmarole! Damn. Though, I wish the trip to Ireland had happened. Perhaps when you say yes to another girl 🙂

    1. I think I have learnt my lesson now! Stay away from girls be the crazy, or sexy, or otherwise! I wrote another post on here, somewhere, about my forages into the dating world and I pretty much have to retire for a few years after each experience!

  3. I once took a bus from London, through Wales, onto a ferry to Dublin, overnight. The ferry was the worst part. we had to get off the bus and go in this little cafeteria area. But the cafeteria was closed, as it was 4 am. If you wanted to (and had the money) you could pay for a room and have a little nap. I (not having the money) slept on a 2-person booth, curled up in a ball, using my backpack for a pillow and my sweater for a blanket. It was freezing and uncomfortable. That ferry was one of the worst travel experiences of my life.

    Ireland, on the other hand, was great! You should still go!

    1. As I said in my other post I have – strangely – been to Dublin already but my experience of the ferries were much better than yours. We had a coach from Bangor to Holyhead, then had to walk on, and get a short train at the other end. My understanding of it is that there’s different types of ferry (a fast one and a slow one) and on the way out there we had the fast ferry and inside it was like the Starship Enterprise and full of glamour. The way it was positioned my chair was sat in front of a large window that was at the front and it felt like the Captain’s chair. I did love that. You do highlight the perils of the overnight traveller though, which I wasn’t prepared for!

  4. Ahh, the last minute “no” is the hallmark of a crazy sexy person isn’t it. A pity you went through that interrogation for nothing, although, now you have a passport you’re set next time you get that kind of invitation.
    Surely the govt would be able to tell from the photo you supplied if you were a Somali pirate though, wouldn’t the eyepatch give you away?
    I wonder, if your appearance hadn’t matched that in the photo was the booth you would be directed to equipped with a heavy door that clanged shut ominously behind you where you waited, and waited…. and waited……

    I guess the rich have minions to do their running around for them so they don’t have to worry about replacing those clearly inferior leather soles.

    1. Yes at least, unlike your other half with a similar tale of adventure, I did get a passport out of it. I’ve got ten years to make use of it! But at least I am now prepared.

      There’s an episode of South Park where some of the kids travel to Somalia because they want to live the pirate life of treasure and adventure. They were expecting eye patches, parrots, and cutlasses too.

      Unfortunately the government don’t have the budget for Bond-villain lairs. I was just impressed at the row of fitted pods we were all interviewed in!

      And as for the shoes and the rich people I am left wondering.

      1. I think if the Man had an invitation from a crazy sexy person he might have been moved to put a bit more effort in to getting the passport than he did. As it is it was a week with a bunch of blokes, reminiscing and fishing. Not as exciting as your trip promised to be.

        Yep, the fragile shoes are a worry, but I guess that fashion never has to make sense does it as evidenced by my poor feet whenever I spend a rare day in heels.

        Do you think the fitted interview pods had a purge function? That way they wouldn’t even have to call security to sort out any potential terrorists. Beep, WHOOSH!

    1. In my (limited) experience I think those Crazy, Sexy girls all come with a disclaimer that you should get the going whilst it’s good. And that it won’t last forever. Alas no guarantees, as in life.

      Although I’ve just finished reading Tim Harford’s book ‘The Undercover Economist’ and your comment sound very similar to advice discussed in there. I can only assume that you must be an economist at heart!

  5. Ah no! What is it with you and these girls? Never give up! What you need young man is to apply yourself properly to the task at hand, stop mooching around eyeballing the cute ones from a distance, ask them out already! What’s the worst that can happen? Oh hell I forgot for a moment it’s YOU I’m talking about, yes indeed, there’s probably potential for lots to happen. Nevertheless, I ORDER you to find a girlfriend, leave the crazy ones alone though, you got enough trouble just looking after your cats. Oh and if you ever find yourself bedless and alone in Ireland, I know people. Nice people. Seriously though, I loved this piece, most enjoyable reading.

    1. You know I can’t say how delighted I am that finally someone has come to understand that they need to factor in the fact – that it’s me – into any situation!

      What is it with me and these girls? They get a mention or two in my next post too – which I think I’m going to have to cut into two as well – as I’ve finally got around (more importantly worked out how to tell) the story of my three legged cat.

      If I give the impression (I don’t know how it comes across in concentrated form) that my life has been full of girls then let me dispel that myth as it’s been the exact opposite. All these stories do seem to make me seem more popular than I obviously am.

      Thanks for the comment, and oh to find a girlfriend crazy or otherwise… Now you mention that my friends did chalk up the last girl I went out on a date with as crazy too. She seemed perfectly normal to me, but as I relayed the fact that she kept weapons secreted around the house and had her own samurai sword… Well there was no telling them after that.

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