do not pass go
Sprout is asleep in my arms as I type this softly and slowly. Today - hell, the last week - has been a trial. My thoughts have gone like this: can't plan without a departure date - can't book cleaners, removals or dog shipping; can't tell the utilities we're going - can't get a departure date without flights. Can't book flights without three passports (TA and I both let ours expire last year so let's worry about visas and/or Sprout's Aussie passport once we can at least book a seat on a flight). Can't get new passports until I've changed my name - well, we could but that would mean updating it from Australia and, let's face it, it may as well be now.
First, I ballsed up the deed poll by getting TA to witness it (because I didn't read the instructions). This added the best part of a week. Then, with a new deed poll successfully witnessed, I ballsed up the passport application, not once but twice, by signing my name in such a florid manner that it went outside of the box. This added two days.
This morning I went to the GP's so that they could certify Sprout's paperwork and photos. At a cost of 25 squid, natch. The receptionist told me to check the paperwork while I waited. Suddenly I panicked - I'd left his photos out of the envelope. I rushed home - in 30-degree heat with a 21lb baby strapped to me (shielded from the sun by a sheet - him, not me). Just as I was approaching home I checked the envelope again and, lo, there were the pictures. I turned around and retraced my boiling steps to the surgery.
With his application completed, I set off to the nearest post office that offers "check and send" and an express service, that I believe to be one week. It is only a mile or so, according to the website; however, since not every shop on Walworth Road is numbered, I spend fruitless, sweltering minutes walking in the wrong direction and then heading back before finding the Post Office. I queue for 15 minutes to secure a new application pack, fill it out - signing my name very small inside the box, yay - and then queue for another 15 minutes for the "check and send" express bit.
The woman at the counter claims that my passport will take two weeks, despite the information leaflet stating that a premium service will get you a passport in a week. Then she says that Sprout's passport will take six weeks. We are leaving in five.
I storm home and speak to TA in a frenzy. Sprout needs to be registered as an Aussie before he can get an Aussie passport - it'll be a month and it will require all the same forms (birth certificate etc) as his UK passport, but a month is better than six weeks. TA still hasn't renewed his, even. I'm losing the plot.
TA talks me down from the ledge and later, after lunch, I read through the bumpf again. I can get my passport in four hours and Sprout's in a week if I make an appointment at the passport office. Perhaps I can go tomorrow.
I call the hotline.
Now I have the first available appointment, on Wednesday - a week and a half away. For such a big, life-changing move, this all feels very ramshackle, precarious and unreal.