I've just completed the trawl though atlases, timetables, savings accounts and passport renewal forms in order to book our summer holiday. And, having settled on a beguiling gîte in Brittany I was about to become excited when I realised who would be coming with me.
Believe me, you wouldn't want to holiday with this woman. I suspect she's on day release from a female offenders' institution. She definitely looks as though she'd been doing hard drugs. Or maybe I'm misjudging her and her grim-faced pallor is a symptom of galloping tuberculosis.
The Vicar, too, paled when he saw the company he would be keeping. He's been lurking in his study ever since laying eyes on her, bracing himself for August. So you see, the Home Office has a lot to answer for. I suspect its requirements for passport photos are part of a strategy to reduce the numbers entering this country, for most immigration officials would baulk at admitting the personages pictured in the average British passport. Those photo booths with mortuary lighting which make a toddler look like a cholera victim, the ban on smiles that gives us all the air of axe murderers, the print colours that simultaneously bleach our complexions and darken our eye bags transform us from adornments to society to apparent fugitives from justice.
A nation that was at ease with itself would insist on photo booths with mood lighting, the odd Grecian column as a backdrop, perhaps a discreet nozzle to administer an emergency spray tan. Radiant smiles would be obligatory to reflect the national pride. But presumably, officials are so accustomed to sullen expressions in the log-jams at Passport Control, that a beaming portrait would render us all unrecognisable.
And it's those border controllers that worry me. What kind of impression must they form of human nature when their social interaction consists of gazing at mugshots like mine? How much pleasanter their job would be they could browse snaps of us poised on a surf board or laughing into a cocktail umbrella.
I cling to one sole comfort. I've aged ten years since my last passport pic. The difference was paining me. But simultaneously I had to renew my ten-year-old's ID. And I can confirm that in merely five years since her last photo shoot, she's aged far more dramatically than me!
How about you? Are you happy to be seen on holiday with yourself?