Today I went to apply for my Dutch passport. I’m Dutch by rights because my dad is Dutch When I was born and was Dutch at my 18th birthday, despite me being born in England and holding an English passport all my life.
This has been months in the planning. The application is quite involved with lots of documents from my parents required – old passports, marriage certificate, various Dutch equivalent national insurance type numbers.
Anyway, that was all done, and my appointment was set for today, 14:45. I had a fairly leisurely morning and caught the bus into Leeds to catch the 10:45, set to arrive 13:01. Plenty of time for the 6km walk to the Netherlands Embassy. I like to walk through cities.
When I got to Leeds train station my train wasn’t listed. It turned out to be cancelled (someone had stolen the overhead cables near Retford). The instructions said to catch the 11:15. No problem. I’d put a 1:45 incident window into my plans. No cause for concern.
I walked around town for a bit then went back for 11. A platform staff member was shouting for London King’s Cross people to get on a train to Doncaster and then change there. I did. It set off about 11:15. When we got to Doncaster I ended up waiting a good half hour for the connecting train to arrive. By the time I got to London it was 14:00. Leaving me 45 mins to get to my appointment. I ran to the underground. As I entered the station I heard the announcement, “We apologise for delays to the Piccadilly line.” Guess which line I needed.
I got on the underground and sat there for 10 stops, keeping myself calm, constantly telling myself it’s out of my hands; completely at the mercy of however long it takes to get to Gloucester Road tube station.
I exited the tube at 14:32. Ran to the exit. It was one of those stations with a lift. I didn’t know how deep we were so I went for the lift even though I could see the stairs. I was the first in the lift – there were doors at the other side of them – “first out!” I thought to myself. The doors began to close, then someone jumped through the gap and the doors opened again. “Out of my hands, keep calm” I continued to think to myself.
The lift rose. The doors I stood at didn’t open. It was at the same side as we’d got in on. Such is the law of sod.
When I finally got out of the station I ran and ran and ran. I had 6 minutes. I ran. I got there at 14:45 on the dot – “yes!”. I was a bit sweaty though.
We went through all my documents. When the lady got to my passport photo she looked at it slightly too long for my liking. I’d got them done a few weeks before and specified they were for a Dutch passport. The photographer had looked the rules up and followed the guidelines. My mum had also successfully got Dutch passport photos from there which is why I went. I didn’t want to get this wrong.
Out came the photo measuring tool. My head was too big! There are lots of warnings in the application process about making sure you have supplied photocopies of the required documents and to make sure the photo is correct as a rejection on these matters will require you to have to come back. I didn’t want to go through this again.
Luckily they are a bit more lenient in person than the process documents make out. I was advised to go to a photographer just down the road.
Another run and £20 and another run and I was back with acceptable photos. That photographer does this a lot!
At 15:30 I stepped out of there with my passport application being processed. The passport will come in the mail.
Why? Because of stupid Brexit. This is my “get out of jail free” card. Hopefully I won’t need the power that it brings because the whole stupid incident will be laid to rest. We shall see.
What I am proud of is how I managed to control my anxiety about being late. It wasn’t pleasant but it was a good experience for me to go through.
Afterwards I took that walk back to Kings Cross. Through Hyde Park and beyond. Had a bite to eat. What I like about London is how multi cultural it is. Everyone is a different shade of skin, hundreds of languages being spoken, and everyone is just getting in with it.
Up in Leeds area we seem so segregated. Indian and Pakistani people get Bradford. Black people get Chapeltown, and everywhere else is predominantly white. This is a gross generalisation, of course, but it seems to me that by having these segregated areas you also create cultural segregation.
I walked 22km today, and spent an enormous amount of money on food despite to really eating much at all. That’s London prices for you.
Such is life.