Against all odds, yesterday was a good day. I’ve been feeling quite stressed the last few days leading up to yesterday’s trip to London to apply for French passports for me and Little Girl. Dealing with French administration can be a painful process, whether you are a French citizen or not! In fact, it is probably worse if you are French, because you have no choice but to have to regularly interact with French bureaucrats.
This said, even though I wasn’t looking forward to it, it wasn’t the prospect of travelling on the train alone with a baby I was dreading; I did it all last month to arrange the transcription of my marriage certificate and Little Girl’s birth certificate and it worked out fine despite the fact that there was a bus strike and I ended up taking the pushchair on the tube (which is do-able if your pushchair is lightweight and you have strong arms).
Why the stress then? Well, when I went to the Consulate in late June for the transcriptions (feeling even more stressed), I discovered that the paperwork they held for our marriage bans, which was supposed to speed up the process, had been destroyed because it was over three years old. I am not sure why they don’t use a storage facility like everybody else instead of destroying fairly recent paperwork but I’m sure they have A Very Good Reason. Not that I asked; it’s usually better not to antagonize those in control of the outcome of a strategic administrative request by asking awkward questions.
In any case, in order to validate my transcription request I now needed to produce a full original copy of Badgerman’s Acte de Naissance, requested within the last three months (as opposed to, say, an extract from the same Act, which I had with me at the time, fat lot of good it did me). This is what I mean when I say ‘if you think you have all the paperwork you need, think again and bring triplicates!’.
Once back at home, we sorted out the request for the birth certificate, which had to be signed and faxed over directly to the relevant Mairie, and we waited. And waited. It’s only when nothing arrived after two weeks that I realised that their form lacked one important piece of information: a contact number in case anything goes wrong…
So this is why I found myself this morning feeling very stressed and going up to the Consulate facing the very likely rejection of our passport applications due to incomplete paperwork.
The initial reaction from the Consulate officer was as expected: he could do my passport under my maiden name but not do Little Girl’s at all. I explained the situation with the outstanding paperwork (I may have grovelled a bit) and lo and behold, after a short wait whilst he checked our status, this wonderful wonderful man came back and said that he would be able to do my passport under my married name AND do Little Girl’s one too, as long as we forwarded Badgerman’s acte de naissance when it arrived.
I would like to think that it was my natural charm and candor that clinched it, but I suspect it had nothing to do with me at all, and that kindness was to be found at the French Consulate after all. I wish I knew this man’s name to add him to my Christmas card list.
Incidentally, I got home and the acte de naissance had turned up with the morning post. And to top up this most successful day, the French Market was in town and I bought some merguez for a true taste of France.