I stand in line at the driving licence counter. Under my arm a sheaf of utility bills ( originals and copies ) , receipts showing we've paid both our income tax and our tax d'habitation, bank statements to show we're not destitute and four newly taken passport photos without a trace of a smile.
The original application was rejected because the British licence had not been translated into French. The next attempt was rejected because the translation , although done by a court approved translator , had not been notarized. The third attempt was refused because we needed a formal letter , in French, from the British authorities to show that we hadn't had any recent points added to the licence. Approach number four was stymied by a unsmiling lady who informs me that "Monsieur. All the signatures must be within the box. Not, as you seem to think, nearly in ".
At last we get to the front of the queue. '' Oui ? " says the woman behind the counter appraising me coldly. She looks at the file then disappears into a glass cubicle to talk to a colleague. I see them study the documents, slowly and carefully, as if forgery is an every day occurrence in the world of replacement licences. The second, more senior ice maiden, looks at me through the glass partition and purses her lips. The first ice maiden returns. '' Monsieur. It is required that the photocopies of your passport be enlarged and in colour if we are to process your application ". With that the conversation comes to an abrupt end. Angus thinks of asking why this new requirement hadn't been mentioned before. The ice maiden has however turned her back and walked away.
Sixth time lucky ?
Bob and Sophie continue to stand on guard against the red squirrels.