Identity Crisis

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Jesus. WHICH trunk did you put the passports in? And no, we're not playing bloody lacrosse on holiday.

I am blessed to have a very easy relationship with my ex-husband Edward, the father of my children, my company co-director, a very dear friend and player of the worst practical jokes imaginable. We were due to be at a conference in Amsterdam this weekend, with my Ma bringing the bots out for a few extra days' holiday. We try and take them away on holiday together twice a year, but due to work being so manic over the summer, all we have managed so far this year is a week of bikes and badminton.

The conference was cancelled, so therefore was the holiday. Edward came into the office and said 'I've booked us for ten days in Barbados. We leave on Saturday.' I laughed. He produced the tickets. On Monday, he said 'The server is down again, it'll cost 12 grand to fix.' I cried. He said, 'Just kidding.' On Tuesday he said 'I think Rose's passport has run out.' I laughed. He produced the expired passport.

So yesterday, after some industrial grovelling to the Headmaster, Edward, Rose and I made an emergency dash to the Disorganised Losers' Office in London to get a new one. Heart-stopping stress on many, many levels including definition of a 'recent' utility bill to prove residence, a smudged signature on the verified photograph, inability of either of Rose's parents to remember the exact date of their marriage and the production of a quite staggering number of obscure documents, DNA samples, letters from the Queen, overnight supplies, sleeping bags, flasks of soup etc. Total nightmare bollocks. However, to our combined astonishment, our number was called exactly when they said it would be, the chap behind the counter didn't so much as glance at my boxes of supporting evidence, the application was accepted, we hoisted our leather sacks of doubloons over the counter, agreed to come back in four hours to collect Rose's new passport and were free in Kensington for the rest of the afternoon.

Which Rose asked to spend in the Science Museum. Edward and I exchanged horrified glances - I had imagined a whizz through Harvey Nicks; Edward thought a pint and the Telegraph an appropriate way to celebrate Rose being free to leave the country. However, we smiled bravely and made our echoey way along the Museums underpass and girded our loins for an afternoon of scientific fun.

Which of course it was. The exhibits are cunningly disguised to make science seem both interesting and accessible, and you discover how energy works, what Bakelite is made of and how to make water stretchy without learning a single element of the periodic table or sobbing over a bunsen burner.

There are a lot of frighteningly enthusiastic orange-dressed people called 'Explainers' who pop up helpfully and Get You Involved. Edward, being English, didn't really want to interact with bubbles or have a go at building a bridge from squashy blocks; he would have been quite happy piddling about on his own, thank you. The Explainers were relentless though and the three of us found ourselves in front of a screen wearing protective goggles and looking at infrared images of ourselves. It was fascinating to see exactly where the white-hottest parts of the human body are, especially after the four-hour car journey and nail-biting wait we had just undergone. Rose slunk off with the Explainer to construct a wind turbine as her parents contorted themselves and got a bit post-traumatic helpless with laughter.

In a two freezing days' time, Edward will have switched to Tropical Mode (Planters Punch and The Barbados Advocate), Rose will be snorkelling on a coral reef, Freddie will be playing football with his best chum from school who coincidentally is staying ten minutes from us and I will be catching up with old friends and wiggling my toes in white sand. I don't think any of us will need an Explainer for that.


  1. Always so diverting. Have a great time in the sand and surf.

  2. Great that you get along with the ex so well. I'll be in Aruba with the current husband in January (celebrating 25 years). The 12-year old is still speechless that we're not taking him with.

  3. Bloody marvellous! My husband, being a surly Scot, would feel just the same about having to "interact", though usually warms to the idea after a while and then makes a complete arse of himself.
    Think of us, traipsing to Tesco and battling on with the ironing, while you're downing the rum and sunning yourself. Your fans expect plenty of blogs to come from this little jaunt so keep your notepad near you.

  4. Wow! Really envy you the easy relationship with the ex-!...
    Now, I need to look up the formula to make water "stretchy"- sounds too useful to miss!

  5. It's no surprise to me that you and Edward are still friends.I'm sure he finds you just as captivating as we all do. Please don't worry about all of your snowbound friends, we'll be fine, just go along and enjoy your self.( any guilt yet, I thought not!)

  6. "Explainer"...brilliant. I'll be using that word in some context today. I wish that I'd had a camera when LFG and I went to get her passport. She had to raise her hand and take an was priceless. Her mom had to sign a one million page document agreeing for me to procure said passport without her presence. More paperwork than our 2.5 year divorce process required. But a hell of a lot cheaper.

  7. JADH - tough call, but I'll try

    Kathy - congratulations and have a fabulous guilt-free time!

    Trish - yes, but I'll be battling round Tesco on Xmas eve, knackered and peeling and you'll be at home, shopping and ironing done with a huge vodka. I'll be blogging while I'm away though.

    Ra Ra Rasputin - well we've had almost a decade to get over ourselves and both firmly believe the children must come first. Give me three uses for stretchy water in a contemporary setting and I'll send you a vial of white sand.

    James, - Edward would have spat his pint out at that - captivating, no. Psychotic nutter, yes. Just checked, and no, not an ounce of guilt.

    ADG - Perhaps they should introduce Explainers as past of the divorce process. Buckets of stretchy water would add to the general merriment. Bet your divorce was cheaper than Rose's emergency passport.

  8. The problem with a French man is he gets too involved. I would be the one running off to a pub while he interacted with an Explainer and lost in some obscure science experiment.

    There can't be anyone in the world who can describe dealing with paper-loving bureaucrats with more side-splitting humor than you.



  9. If you'd been there, I'd have run off to the pub with you and left the gentlemen to it.

  10. Wow! - two holidays a year and tickets to Barbados (not to mention the free IT consultation) - who was your divorce lawyer?

  11. Always so much better when you can get with the ex-husband - I like mine much more now that we are not married! Enjoy Barbados - wonderful!


Please leave a comment if you can be remotely bothered - anything you have to say is valuable and I absolutely love hearing from you all. Elizabeth