I'm due to depart on my 'Around the World in 180 Days' tour soon, and it dawned on me with growing panic that my passport had expired. A bundle of nerves with butterflies dancing in my stomach, I gulped down a triple-strength gin 'n' tonic, followed by an Alkaseltzer, followed by a vodka martini, and got Juan to drive me to a department store in Milton Keynes where there was a photo booth, hidden away at the back of the store next to Women's Lingerie; it was aptly called the Glamour Puss Photo Booth. Not the most salubrious department store - the sort of place frequented by blue-rinsed old spinsters milling around excitedly like hyenas - but it was a dire emergency. If I didn't get my passport application back today, I'd be done for!
I found the photo booth and inserted a couple of coins, went inside, pulled the privacy curtain across and waited. I pouted at the camera the way I was taught to on the cat-walk.
Here's the first photos... impressive, aren't they? You can really tell it was me. Half a head. That will really get me a passport renewal. The photo booth contraption went off too soon, before I'd adjusted the height of the seat. In a black mood, I kicked the machine hard with my stiletto, uttered a string of profanities at the top of my voice, and reached inside my gold lamé purse to retrieve some more coins.
The photo machine made a noise like a blocked drain, there was a whirring of cogs, a tremendous flash and a smell of acrid smoke... and then nothing. Alarmed, I stood up at the exact moment the camera bulb flickered weakly, followed by a noise like fingernails down a chalkboard and these beautiful and highly-appropriate passport photographs popped out of the slot:-
By now, I was boiling over with rage at this wretched contraption which kept swallowing my money and surprising me by taking the photos at exactly the wrong moment, such as when I was scratching my vagina or looking poe-faced.
I stepped outside the photo booth and inserted the end of my umbrella into the coin slot and rammed it home with such force that it broke the thing in two. The lights flickered and the machine whirred back into life and four £1 coins fell sullenly out of the slot. I jumped back inside the photo booth. Third time lucky. The photo machine seemed to be over-heating and it was getting very hot in there.
Here are the next lot of pictures:
It was very difficult stripping down to lingerie in such a tiny space, but I somehow managed it. Not sure the above photos will be suitable for my passport though. Will just have to wait and see. By now, I do believe the triple-strength gin 'n' tonics were starting to take their toll, combined with the over-heating photo booth. Here's the next set of inglorious photos, the culmination of badly-timed, involuntary actions, and a slightly dicky stomach:
Just as I was about to lurch out of the photo booth, my head swimming, I heard a strange noise outside, like someone shaking a box of raw liver up and down; I flung back the curtain only to be met by an alarming sight. A cleaner standing looking in at me. She was the size of a small house and as strong as a Russian Olympic shot-putter. Her name badge clearly said 'Helga'. I didn't like the way she was looking at me.
Helga licked her lips in a very menacing fashion (this was the source of the noise that sounded like someone shaking a box of raw liver), her hand reaching up to tweak her own enormous, trembling breast, roughly the size of a pumpkin, which itself was straining perilously through the tiny, jet-black PVC cleaner's outfit she had on. Helga seemed very excited to see me, dressed as I was only in designer French silk lingerie, inside the photo booth, with a half-full glass of gin in my hand, the interior of the photo booth looking like a bomb had hit it. "Shall I come in and join you?" she whispered seductively, a pearl of saliva glistening on her scarlet whore's lips.
As she took one gigantic step towards the photo booth, she belched like a bullfrog.
"I'm not sure there's room for you in here" I whimpered in a puny voice. If she'd attempted to enter the photo booth with myself still inside, I would have been pulverised and the photo booth would have exploded into hundreds of shards of metal and fibre glass.
I let out a terrible scream and made a run for it, across the department store, barefoot and in the scantiest set of lingerie, down three escalators and out into the street, into the muscular arms of Juan. I don't know what happened after that, as I must have blacked out due to the sheer shock from the lesbian advances of Helga the cleaner and my terrible photo booth experience. I've been popping Valium like Smarties and have been knocked up in bed ever since, reading Mills & Boon love stories whilst Juan brings me platters of shellfish, washed down with a Puligny Montrachet. On the fourth day, I just about felt well enough to get up.
It was that same morning when an official-looking manilla packet arrived here at Raffles, addressed to me. I tore it open only to find it was my new passport, freshly issued by the US embassy in London.
I've never liked passport photos or the process of getting them taken in tiny, working-class photo booths in grubby department stores in sub-normal places like Milton Keynes. It's the type of activity that leaves you vulnerable to attacks by sex-crazed lesbian store cleaners. Oh well, at least I have a passport now. I do think it's a rather good likeness, isn't it? x