So, my offspring is eighteen, that age at which I said I would enquire into getting her British nationality. My daughter is the fruit of an Anglo French union, and for the moment she is still French, but she has the right to double nationality.
This morning, hours on the Internet wading through the various forms. Let’s do this the old way I thought and I rang up the Passport and visa office in … well somewhere in the UK.
A short wait and then a very pleasant and chatty lady with a thick Northern Irish accent listened to my case, and whilst her colleagues checked on my daughter’s eligibility, the Northern Irish lady and I chatted away on everything from the weather to tonight’s TV and the abysmal performance of the England football team at the Euro 2016 football championships.
« Ah, I’ll put you through to a colleague who can help you she announced. »
We bid each other a cordial goodbye and then another lady with a thick Liverpool accent told me, after another few chatty minutes, that, she couldn’t help me, but knew someone who could. More friendly goodbyes as if we were long lost friends.
Next on the line, a chirpy chap. with a thick Geordie accent.
«Are you British? » asked the bloke.
« Yeah, but I live in France and my daughter is French and she wants British nationality. »
« Well » chirps up the chirpy Geordie, « if you’re British so is your daughter, and the nice Geordie bloke talks me through the website and tells me what forms to download.
More long lost friend goodbyes and me with a happy heart. In the gloom and doom of fractured Brexit Britain, some nice, happy, chatty civil servants.
Now if this had been in France it would have been a polite but terse, utilitarian conversation, possibly with a mildly unpleasant, hooked-nosed, bespectacled civil servant lady on the other end of the line.
Every time, I have to deal with French officialdom, the person who « serves » me is always a mildly unpleasant, hooked-nosed, bespectacled civil servant lady. The aforementioned physical and character traits must be prerequisites for working in the French civil service, either this, or they are being cloned somewhere in a secret government laboratory.
Of course there are Apart from a pleasant chap. at the local Inland Revenue office, most French civil servants are an abrupt lot.
Anyway, hats off to the underpaid* British civil servants for dealing pleasantly and successfully with my queries – Life is so much better when we are all « nice » to each other.
And a final word – I’m so unused to hearing UK regional accents, that it took a while to “tune in” – guess I’ll have to organise a Great British road trip while there is still a Britain, great or not.
*I say underpaid, because all public servants are underpaid