Sunday, February 28, 2010


For reasons too difficult to go into, I spent Thursday as The Prisoner, of Port Merion and Patrick MacGoohan fame, or perhaps as Kafka's protagonist in The Trial.
How, you may ask, did this come about?
Well, if I tell you I had to go to The Legalisation Office in Milton Keynes, you will surely understand.
At first I was fairly jaunty about the whole thing, but as the looming, faceless, un-differentiable buildings towered over me, I felt the dead hand of the State descending.
As I entered the relevant building, I was handed a number - 074. Thereafter, the whole time I was there, I was addressed as "Number 74".
The stern lady, when I presented the papers, assured me that no such person existed on her database, but if I had a name and address and a telephone number she would see what she could do.
Needless to say, because the relevant person was in Scotland, faxes flew back and forth, together with copies of passports and certifications. But I and my fellow numbers just had to sit there, with no comfort and no information until our numbers were called. Two of the people who had been there before me ( " Numbers 71 and 73 ") were told their papers were not acceptable. The lady broke down and wept. Not a flicker from the other side of the bullet-proof glass. The man just trudged away sadly, presumably to get the papers done again.
The numbers above me were called and allowed to leave. Then " Number 74" - no please or anything.
" That will be £28 please"
" Er, is it all OK?"
" I'm not allowed to say."
" Well what's the £28 for then?"
" You have to pay it."
" Yes, but what for?"
" You have to pay it."
I proffered Scottish notes. With a very dirty look they were accepted.
Another half hour went by, and " Number 93" had already been and gone, when " Number 74" came round again.
A piece of paper was shoved out.
" Sign where indicated" I didn't argue.
She went away again, and came back a few minutes later with my darling papers duly Legalised!
I escaped into the lowering sleet - it felt like nectar on my lips....


Anonymous said...


kinglear said...

Dear squiggly writing. I would love to know what you are saying.If it's that number 74 is egg fried rice, I shall happily take a portion...