Sunday, June 24, 2007

My old passports

Pages in an old passport can have a similar nostalgic value to old letters or photos. Even the covers can tell a story.

In the old model, there was a crown on the cover, above the word Australia, and the expression British passport appeared beneath our coat of arms. Inside, to describe the bearer's nationality, complicated verbiage was required: Australian citizen and a British subject. Then, in the '80s, for reasons I never bothered to try to understand, we Australian expatriates residing in the Old World suddenly found ourselves queuing up with Eskimos and Americans to get into Britain, while the British queues were full of people wearing turbans and djellabas, and speaking among themselves in exotic languages. Personally, I had become so accustomed to thinking of Britain as the ancestral motherland of Australians that I never quite got over the shock of being considered there as an alien. And I'm still irritated when I find Australian dignitaries groveling in front of members of Britain's royal family.

The following page of my first passport has traces of my first sea, land and air voyages outside of Australia:

And here's my first French visa, delivered in London, enabling me to work officially in France:

Today, one has the impression that 4,000 French francs was a hell of a lot of money to pay for a visa. They were, of course, so-called "old francs". In present-day monetary terms, my visa wasn't particularly expensive: a few dozen euros.

While I'm aware that it's rather silly to remain attached to obsolete passports, these documents symbolize precious moments in my early life. They're a modern equivalent of the old family bibles in which our ancestors recorded dates of baptisms and first communions.

1 comment:

  1. This is an interesting post. I've recently become fascinated with old passports, and these images are very crisp & colorful. thanks for posting.