As a first time passport applicant (I've been abroad a few times but with the old style child passport) I was sent a letter some three weeks after the initial application inviting me, nay, instructing me to attend one of their offices for an interview.
The purpose of said interview? To prevent identity theft and so I could actually confirm I was me. Now, one thing I'm absolutely fucking great at is being me - I've mastered the skill over the years and consider it to be one of the things I'm best at. Nobody does it better - except for a guy I occasionally see in our City Centre who is almost as good as being me, except he doesn't quite have the edge.
From the list of sites on offer I booked an appointment in their Birmingham one. Admittedly Warwick is closer, but there's fuck all to spend the rest of the day doing - at least in Brum I could wander round the shops afterwards.
I thought it odd I didn't have to take anything along - (Well, actually in hindsight it's not that surprising - I couldn't exactly take my passport to prove who I was, could I? After all they hadn't actually given me one yet).
A part of me would love to blog about my experience; That I was shown into a drab concrete room after having to wait several hours to sit on a hard wooden bench and queue for another two hours. After a while my voice was called through a barely audible tannoy and I was shown into another bare grey room, the scent of misery hanging in the air like a Bridgend teenager. Terrified, I answered barked out questions before being ejected back into the street.
In all honesty, it wasn't anything like that. The staff were friendly, the room clean and large, the interview informal and polite. I'm yet to work out how the system actually works - apparently the interview process hasn't uncovered any fraudsters or bogus passport claims to date.
The questions? Over in ten minutes and none of them that taxing. "How long have you lived at your current address? Your previous one? What are the full names of your parents? What credit accounts do you have?". I got one wrong; I can never remember my dads birthday - I know it's in November, but thats about it. I think that makes me more of a bad son than an evil fraudster.
The passport? Arrived in the post two days later. And I have an excellent passport photograph. Result!