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I was reading one of the English-in-France things - I don't recall if it was or The Connexion newspaper - when I stumbled across a mention of changes to passport validity. That is to say, UK passports now have a fixed validity of ten years.

Which means that mine is technically out of date.

It was issued on 27th of June 2011, and it is supposed to expire of the 27th of March 2022.
However, post-craziness, the additional months no longer count. It's an interesting legal area, I think, as I have a valid passport that clearly states its expiry date. But the withdrawal from reality has sort of retroactively changed that.

So I've made an application for a replacement passport. Doing it on-line seemed fairly hassle free, a set of questions to answer. So I entered the requested information. They wanted a digital photo. Apparently I can use a photo booth to get a code (like, does that even work outside the UK?!) or just take a photo myself using a smartphone. The latter is what I did. I went out back, hung some... I don't know the name in English, it's that fleece stuff you wrap around plants in the winter. Anyway, I hung some of that over the back of the greenhouse and clipped it in place with clothes pegs. Took my glasses off, stared at the camera, said "smile" and waited for the two second delay (as I'm not supposed to have any expression - little do they know that that's my default expression!).
Hopefully they will accept the photo. The automatic verification checks didn't reject the photo. And, yeah, total zombie eyes. Comme d'hab.

The cost was £105.86. That's £86 for the passport, and the rest for courier. This cost, after translation, €123,73. Google estimates €123,46 so the bank didn't screw me.

I seem to recall it being a lot more expensive when mom and I did ours in 2011, because I paid for both and had to arrange special authorisation from the bank to make an overseas payment of more than €300.

Anyway, tomorrow I'll have to go into town and sort out posting my old one back. I'll send it track'n'trace, obviously.

And that will leave me for a few weeks without a passport. I'll keep all the paperwork, because it's times like that when les flics will randomly stop me. That's how my luck goes. Though, I do have a residency permit, so maybe that'll be good enough should anybody official want some ID.

I just hope I don't have to go to the embassy for an interview. As far as I'm aware, the only consulates that remain are the ones in Marseille and Bordeaux, with the main Embassy being - obviously - in Paris. Getting there would be a logistical nightmare. Plus... Paris... So. Many. People. OMFG.


So, chock this one up as another Brexit Benefit, eh?
I already know they'll issue me a stupid Brexit Blue passport. As if the colour has any actual relevance. I mean, the important bit is that it is issued by Her Majesty's Government and that it is recognised overseas as being a valid identity document from a relatively stable first world nation. Does anybody, other than the Brexiteers, actually give one single iota of concern what colour it is? Burgundy, blue, pink, green... it's the document itself that has value. The whole dumb mantra of "red bad, blue good" (funny, those are also the colours of the two primary political parties) really only appeals to those who swallowed all the crap like "Brexit means Brexit" or all that flag waving rhetoric (okay people, just make sure you wave the flag the right way up (it isn't symmetrical), and never call it The Union Jack!).

The reason I am not keen on the blue passport is not because it is blue so much as why it is blue. But, at the end of the day when all is said and done and some overweight chick yodels, it's an identity document. That's it's purpose. The colour doesn't change that. It didn't when it was burgundy, it won't when it's blue.


Oh, how STUPID!

Oh, on my news app this morning I read a shocking story. I was shocked. SHOCKED, I tell you.

Oh, it told the story of a country that decided that, in the middle of a global pandemic, it was totally okay to abandon the various safety measures in place. You know, the masks, the distance, the no groups, the...

Oh, it was a story of a music festival. A big one. About fifty thousand attendees. All happily bopping away as if The Unforgiving Plague totally wasn't a thing.

Oh, no surprise, really, that about a tenth caught the aforementioned plague (and may well be spreading it further).

Oh, but it doesn't stop there. This story gets even better. They think it may have been the birthplace of a new strain of the Delta variant.

Oh, and, then, there have been more recent (and larger) festivals. In Reading, in Leeds, and up in Edinburgh. Lots of lovely infectable meatsacks moshing beside each other, breathing the same air, touching the same stuff, even touching each other. It's basically virus playtime. Why not pop a cherry on top of your heads and serve yourselves up properly?

Oh, I don't want to be the one to say "I told you so", but... you f'kin' idiots.

Oh, the virus will "go away" when it ceases to be a threat to large numbers of people and just becomes yearly background noise, like the winter flu. It does not go away because you want it to, think it has, or have an incompetent government telling you it's not a big deal because a nice red top headline is worth so much more than the advice of any number of people who actually know what they're talking about.

Oh, and all that stuff with the masks and the no-touching? It wasn't enacted by introverts to troll extroverts. It was enacted for basic reasons of public health.
Your stupid Facebook feeds might want to convince you it's a giant lie made up by the Jews, whilst simultaneously telling you it was cooked up in a lab in China (uh, contradiction much?), but once thing is quite clear - big important countries are not going to take the risk of trashing their economies without a pretty solid reason. We have all gone through a number of extraordinary months. Things are improving. The mass population tracking by Bill Gates vaccination means that more people are able to return to something roughly approximating normality. Or, rather, we haven't been bouncing in and out of lockdowns this year. However it's still an ongoing situation. And they're now talking about giving out a third injection when far too many people (especially in the poorer parts of the world) haven't even had their first.

Oh, and, in the midst of this, a bunch of people partying like it's 1999? Just mind-numbingly dumb.



I reported a while back that big bags of tea, that used to cost about €30(ish) doubled in price the day the UK withdrew from the EU. Well, idly browsing Amazon (always a bad idea), I saw somebody selling it for €39. With Prime delivery. Which Amazon promised would be a next day kind of deal.


1,100 lovely bags of tea!
1,100 lovely bags of tea!

I'm not short of tea. Of the two bags I got in December, I have about a quarter (fifth?) of a bag remaining, plus an entire whole bag.
And now I have this one.

So that's something in the region of 2,500 teabags.

I do not need to panic right now. Instead, just put the kettle on and chill... ☺


What broke the phone line?

I was driving home when I saw...
What broke the phone line?
What broke the phone line?

The picture isn't terribly good, as the dashcam has a cheap image sensor that doesn't cope well with changes in light, and this was pointing towards the sun.
You can, however, see the patch in the phone line (the thick lump floating in the white), and you can also see a big digger (with it's arm up) sitting atop a flatbed lorry. It really doesn't take much to join the dots, does it?



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David Pilling, 1st September 2021, 16:19
Did you got the memo... the pandemic is over, everyone is going to get Covid and there's nothing that can be done. Herd immunity is not going to work, nor are vaccines going to prevent you getting it. Although vaccines might well stop you being seriously ill. Vaccine passports, agonising over the daily case numbers, all over. Best protection, vaxx + infection. 
I don't want to troll you, but the lad BoJo suggesting chickenpox style parties was on the money for the future. 
That's the latest from the experts. 
We have to move on, worry about something else. 
Brexit sold newspapers for four years, Covid 18 months. What next... 
Rick, 1st September 2021, 17:20
I understand that shelves are emptying, prices going up, and students hitting all kinds of chaos trying to sort out overseas placements. 
Sorry, Brexit has actually only just started. The last four years was a lot of waffle about what sort of Brexit was supposed to happen. The next four years will be the reality of what's actually happening. 
Rick, 1st September 2021, 17:22
As for the chickenpox parties, it seems strange that BoJo seems to want to kill off the elderly, given that they were fairly instrumental in bringing about both Brexit and the two snap elections for the Tories. 
But, then, nobody has ever accused BoJo of knowing what he's doing...
John, 3rd September 2021, 10:46
You'll be disappointed with the new passport; I was expecting a nice blue one like that of my father which I still have somewhere, but in fact they are such a dark blue (?) as to qualify as black, something which could be said of any colour ultimately dark! 
In other words, they are black! 
Yet another lie? Or a confusion with the French suppliers? After all, noir and bleu do both have four letters (yes, passeport is masculine).
John, 3rd September 2021, 11:12
I've just seen David Nutt responding to Ms Patel's proposal to criminalise possession of nitrous oxide, pointing out that two deaths from abuse of that substance compares well with 28 000 from alcohol. 
He also suggested that it is the favoured drug for footballers to party with, as they are able to play on full form the next day, unlike after other alternatives. 
For me, it is a litter problem: The concomitant discarded balloons are less of a problem than Postman's Elastic Bands, a problem which, here, has significantly reduced recently. 
Perhaps a recycling incentive for the little sparklets-like cylinders might help to solve that problem, like the starred returnable wine bottles in France - not sure if that still exists; they used to be returnable for reuse like lemonade bottles here in the "olden days".

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