Picture a four-year-old, bursting with excitement at the prospect of his first flight, waiting at the departure gate watching lots of planes take off. He's jumping up and down, unable to believe that he is just moments away from going on one himself for the very first time.
We've never done this before as a family. Usually we pack up the car and drive through the tunnel to France. But this year is special. We are going 'all-inclusive', to the Red Sea. The hotel has a water-park!
Our row is finally called. We are right at the front of the plane. Eddie is beside himself now.
And then, suddenly, he is told that he cannot board the plane. With five months left on his passport, not the required six, the family holiday is ruined. (Even though we double-checked with the agent a month before travel...)
No matter, the agent representative reassures us. You can get an appointment at the passport office and extend your passport in less than four hours. If three of us get on the plane, Daddy can take Eddie to London, get it sorted, and be on the next flight out. Holiday hiccup, but salvageable.We are last to board the plane. We have about three minutes to make up our mind. (Would have had three hours if it had been picked up at check-in.) Let's do it.
The flight is six hours. By the time Gertie, Gilby and I arrive in Hurghada, the passport problem will be solved. Hearth-Daddy and Eddie might even be on their way!
But no. Because we were ill-advised again. It actually takes a week to get a child's passport. Only an adult one can be done in that short space of time.
So now I'm stuck with five suitcases (all our diving gear, plus Eddie's luggage as well as our own) and two despairing children. It is Gilby's seventh birthday in the morning. It is our tenth wedding anniversary in a few days time. How to make the best of this? What if we flew back and then went somewhere in Europe where the valid passport might still be valid? We could still enjoy some family holiday time and Gilby could just celebrate his birthday a few days late.
But no. Because the agent won't allow us to do that. Hearth-Father can join us (at his own expense) but for Eddie, the holiday is over before it began.
Grandparents, friends and auntie to the rescue for ten days of being absolutely spoilt rotten for Eddie. Theme parks and restaurants and cinema and beach trips and arcades and toys and new clothes and sweets and fun, fun, fun. Just not the same fun that the rest of his family was having. Because, as Eddie explains to everyone he meets, "My passport is broken..."
I'm still too cross to compose my letter of complaint to the travel agent, but it's coming...
Currently reading: Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham