Years ago it was socks. They had a life of their own. No matter how careful you were with them one invariably went AWOL over time. Maybe, the conspiracy theories went, they were eaten by the washing machine. The WM had a hidden flap, into which one of Great Aunt Isadora’s Christmas present woolly socks would mysteriously disappear, never to be found again.
Such things happen. I lost a passport like that once. Not in the WM you understand but a BA sleeper seat. I had my passport when I boarded the flight in HK and when I was about an hour out of London I looked for the said passport and there it was, gone. The combined efforts of me and a couple of BA trolley dollies failed to find it.
There were two happy endings to this story. I eventually gave up and went to the immigration desk to confess my loss, expecting a lengthy inquisition followed by an even longer administrative process. Maybe I was an illegal immigrant? Aha! said the immigration desk chappy. Do you have any other means of identification? A driving license perhaps? I happily admitted to being the proud possessor of a UK driving licence, complete with mug shot. That’s fine then, said desk chappy. Get a replacement passport asap. I was slightly stunned to say the least. You mean I can come in? That’s it? I checked not once but twice. Indeed it was. I was officially admitted to the country on the back of a driving license and little else. Now as luck would have it I already had a spare passport. Few people know that as a frequent traveller HM Passport Agency will issue a second passport so that if you need a visa to some obscure place like say, Australia, at short notice, you can apply and whilst the antipodeans are busy processing the application you can merrily jet around on passport number one. Brilliant. I expect it is all ‘online’ now and smooth as a baby’s bum provided the computer doesn’t go down but I do know that last time I renewed my Saudi visa it took about six weeks.
The second happy ending was some months later. I received a rather jolly phone call from my Aunt in Llanbradach. She was my passport emergency contact after my mother passed on. She had been contacted by BA’s maintenance team in South Wales. They had been servicing an aircraft and dismantled one of the sleeper seats only to find my absconded passport deep in its sigmoid colon. Thank heavens it had not gone any further! He travels a lot, observed the seat doctor. He was right. And so my late Aunt retrieved my passport, to which I had been rather attached, it containing a Galapagos Passport Stamp. The GPS is not a real visa as the archipelago is part of Ecuador and I already had the necessary chop in my passport. However at Guayaquil airport they will give you a stamp as a souvenir. Muchas gracias!
I seem to have digressed just a little from the great sock / washing machine mystery. Where I was heading was that I have uncovered the modern day equivalent of the missing footwear. It is, I can now reveal, the missing camera battery.
Each time I buy a new camera I indulge myself with a spare battery. Generally as far as I can tell the spare battery seems to cost about 25% of the cost of the camera itself but hey ho, there is nothing worse than being out in the field with a small battery symbol flashing red at you just as Pitta gurneyi hops out of the leaf litter to do its song and dance routine.
Without fail, I lose the spare battery within a week or two. I take the house slowly, stubbornly and angrily to pieces trying to find it. Eventually I give up and resign myself to mortgaging the dog to buy another one. And then, once I have done so the miracle happens. Just as the sock of old used to rematerialize at the back of the drawer you had searched several times before, so the original spare (if that is not an oxymoron) battery will be discovered in a camera bag you know full well you have not used in months. And so you now have three batteries.
One day someone will invent voice-response batteries. Do not laugh. I can now speak to my mobile phone and say “Call Mrs. H” and it does. I see no reason therefore why a battery should not respond if I shout “Lumix battery, where the **** are you?” In fact I think I may just have spotted a product opening. Don’t tell anyone, will you? I think Olympus may be in the market for a recovery play and this might just be what they need.