The need for photographic ID to qualify for free bus travel sees Susan Morrison encounter pure Gallic charm in an unexpected place.
The forms have been sitting there for a couple of weeks now. Free bus travel and all I had to do was get my photo taken, which was exactly the problem.
My passport photo makes me look like something hauled up in a trawler’s net. I’m always amazed they let me through the airport. I fully expect to be turned back on the grounds that my mere arrival makes the country less beautiful.
Then there’s the cross-eyed snap that adorned my ID pass for work. Terrifying.
There is one photo I like and it’s on my driver’s licence. I am prepared to do time rather than have that one updated.
Timpsons on Great Junction Street is staffed by a cheery bloke who takes your photo. He’s great, but he’s no David Bailey. He did his best, but what we were left with was the sort of image that usually flashes on screen as Fiona Bruce on the news details the trail of destruction left by a wild-eyed woman who went radge in the frozen aisle of Tesco because there wasn’t any scampi left.
Well, I figured it would have to do. To Leith Library to get my form completed. The library appears to be staffed entirely by the EU. Cheerful, beautiful young women from Spain, France and all points east of here are handing out forms, helping complete forms and checking forms. About the only thing they don’t seem to be doing is stamping books. I guess that doesn’t happen anymore. I miss that thud on paper.
A stunningly beautiful young woman shimmered up to me. She was French. She didn’t even need to speak for me to know that. No other nation on earth makes clothes look that good.
“Can I help you, madam?”
“Oh,” said I, “I need a form for a bus pass.”
“Ah, madam,” said she, “there are many bus passes. Carers, disability ...?”
“Oh,” I said, “I just need the form for the over-60s, please.”
A fleeting look of sadness crossed her face, as she prepared to break bad news. She looked like something in a 1980s arty French film. You know the sort. Everyone went to see them. We all hated them, but we didn’t want to look like uneducated wallies. “Ah,” she sighed, “People need to apply for that in person, madam, with photographic evidence.”
“I am,” I said, slightly baffled and holding up the sort of mug shot that I knew would make her cry.
She gave me a smile of pure Gallic charm. “Ah, no, madam. You? Surely not.” I said: “Can I adopt you?” Long may our libraries be stocked by beautiful young Frenchwomen with slightly defective eyesight.