We have booked flights to Valencia in Spain plus a budget hotel in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. All very well and good until this afternoon when I thought I would check in on-line... Flight reference number - fine. Name, date of birth - etched in my brain. Identity document? Passport of course. Now passport number... okay no problem. Unlike some disorganised dimbos, we have a document drawer in which we keep all things related to travel, including passports.
I get up from the grey swivel chair I am sitting on right now and mosey into the dining room. The little tomato plants under our french doors are bending to the light and the seed potatoes are at last starting to stir from their slumber. I scan down the little drawer labels - Pay, House, Bank and yes - that's the one - Travel. Whose passport is this? Ah yes - Shirley's. She recently had it renewed. And this one must be mine...but it's not - it's an expired passport with a front corner clipped off. I lift out the drawer, lift out everything, root around. At this moment, if I were a cartoon character, a big thought bubble would appear above my head with a giant question mark in it. Jumpin' Jehozafat! Where's my friggin' passport?!
For the next two hours, Shirley and I are like demented members of the South Yorkshire Police drug squad on a thorough search of our house. We rifle through drawers and papers. We're in the kitchen. We're under the coffee table and I'm up in the attic checking out the suitcase I took to South America last autumn. Oh woe is me! Where can it be?
I phone up the passport office in Liverpool, already visualising a mad dash over the Pennines for an emergency issue but the Irish guy at the end of the line tells me that their costly one day service is only available for passport renewals, not for lost passports. Holy smoke! And drat and double drat!
Tomorrow we'll search our upstairs rooms with a fine tooth comb. I'll need an angled mirror for the lavatory U-bend and perhaps a passport sniffer dog. As I prepare our evening meal - a traditional English chicken dopiaza with basmati rice, sag aloo and nan bread - I am reliving the last few months and wondering how the passport vanished. Who crept into our house and stole it?
It's while we are munching our vittles in full view of the tomato babies that I have a sudden brainwave. On a little shelf near our bed is a plastic wallet folder with various documents and leaflets from my autumn trip. I bound upstairs like a gazelle and sure enough, hidden among the papers, inside a brochure about a Chilean football team - Universitad Catolica - I find the treasured passport. Praise the Lord! Praise him I say! Twas lost but is found again.
Panic over. I spoon prune yoghurt into my mush while enjoying the latest episode of "EastEnders". Will Jack die? Won't he? Later I check in on-line. My pulse is no longer galloping like a thoroughbred on an Irish strand. Watch out Valencia! We're comin' to see ya after all! Yaaay!