My new passport was stuffed into the letterbox of 2 Bloomsbury Place a day or two back. Have had to have two passports for many years, to help us cope with the challenge of getting multiple visas, while travelling all the while, but they were stuffed to the gills with official stamps. So time for a new one.
This time, though, the Passport Office had been a little stickier about giving me one, perhaps wondering whether I was using the spare to shuttle in and out of countries with malign regimes, or similar?
As it happens, I have been travelling somewhat less in recent months, for all sorts of reasons – including health issues. Indeed, BA downgraded me from Gold to Silver a week or so ago, which I should welcome as a sign that my carbon bubble has shrunk – though we have offset our emissions since the outset.
All of that said, I scarcely expected to be genuinely thrilled when opening the new passport. The first thing that caught my eye, immediately below an echo image of me on the official identity page, was the image of a tern, rendered in blue. And that struck me as topical, since I have been standing to watch the aerobatics of a tern over Barnes Pond in recent days. The first time I can remember seeing one there.
Other pages sport images of fountains, sundials, shadowed trout, a dragonfly, what is likely a snowy owl, beachside huts, a Cotswold village and the like. It truly is a wonder, a treasure, with an acorn floating over the page where you have to register the names of contacts in case of Emergencies. A sense of potential there, a great oak in prospect. In the same way, I sense that the coming decade 2015-2025, could be extraordinary. The Breakthrough Decade, possibly. So it’s interesting, serendipitous, that the new passport expires in 2025.