Monday 18 October 2010

Whitehall 1212

I thought it was the phone number of the Foreign Office but I find from googling it's actually (or was) the phone number of Scotland Yard.

For non-British readers, SY is the headquarters of the Metropolitan (i.e. London) Police. For all readers, British included, the name Scotland Yard comes from the fact that the building is on the site of the London residence of King Henry VIII's sister Margaret who was married to the king of Scots, James IV. That's a good factoid, isn't it!

Now I've digressed already - how did I get on to King James IV? Oh yes! The phone number of the Foreign Office - reason being I was on the point of having to ring it this afternoon. Let me explain.

Residents of the Azores qualify for discounts of about 10-15% on the fares of SATA, the airline which flies between the islands and to Lisbon. The horrors of dealing with Portuguese bureaucracy are such that I could never hitherto be bothered with obtaining the necessary proof of residence but the introduction of a new fare offering a 50% discount to residents (that's €150 off the return fare to Lisbon) meant this was something that could be put off no longer.

So it was with a rather "Abandon hope all ye who enter here" attitude that we went into the Camara Municipal at Lajes this afternoon in search of the required paper work. As it happened, the lady was friendly - spoke immaculate English and it appeared that we were by no means the first expats lured in as a result of SATA's new promotional fare. But as usual we were destined to succumb to "Computer says no" syndrome.

In particular, the computer said I didn't have a UK passport! Yes, that's right - I don't have a UK passport! This is despite the fact that the document in question is sitting 6 inches away from the computer in question and, if I folded it in half , I could stick the passport in the computer's disc drive. As I was feeling very tempted to do. Or in any other orifice that had presented itself ...

At this point you have to imagine Basil Fawlty telling the un-married couple they couldn't have a double room ("it's the law of England!") when I spluttered "I think you'll find I DO have a British passport, right here, and that it says Her Britannic Majesty's Secretary of State requests and requires you to afford such assistance as may be necessary! Let's give him a ring, shall we - what's that number again? Whitehall 1212?"

Of course I neglected to mention to the lady or her computer that Her Britannic Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs is a nasty little Yorkshireman recently embroiled in allegations of homosexuality and I was so busy thinking about how there would probably be a British Consul in Ponta Delgada from whom if necessary we could appeal to the ambassador in Lisbon, Britain Portugal's oldest ally etc., when the computer decided to play ball and accept I had a UK passport after all. Right, well, that's OK then, I'll stand down the gunboats ...

So as well as being in the phone book, we're now officially resident on Flores and have a Certificado de Registo to prove it



Marisa said...

Congratulations! You're now official Florentinos!

Marisa said...

Love the picture on the header.

Kathie said...

According to IMDb, there were only 12 epis ever made of "Fawlty Towers."

It's sure had a lot of bang for the pop-culture buck!

Marisa said...

Insanity? € 245.000? 160m2 at Faj√£? Wow!!!

With so many houses to restore how can they allow such a thing?