Him: Yes. (to wife, referring to their son) Have you got Dylan's passport?
Her: (checking) Yes. All here.
Me: (to him, because he is an American and they are on their way to Australia): Got your visa?
Him: (Long silence.) Um. Do I need one?
Me: Did you check?
Guess what? Americans need visas for Australia.
Fortunately we discovered that visas can be got online, even on Sunday evenings when you are already at the airport. But believe me, that 45 minute drive to the airport - wondering all the while if father and son would be able to go at all - was fuelled not by petrol, but by high octane stress levels.
P.S. This whole passport/visa/immigration/travel problem thingy is known as the Noramly Family Syndrome, or NFS for short. It is highly contagious between family members and can be dangerous. Anyone marrying into the family should take suitable precautions.
Related symptoms include:
- luggage lag In this case both parties arrived in Malaysia without their bags even though they were travelling on different flights from different destinations. It was a fact, well-known to UN employees when Noramly was working for the IAEA, that if you accompanied him, you would arrive at your destination without your bags.
- the triggering of airline strikes or airport chaos The BA strike of some years ago is still talked about as the Holiday to Hell by Noramly family members all arriving from different countries on British Airways. Never again. The recent terrorist-liquid chaos in UK caught up two members of the Noramly clan travelling in opposite directions who had arranged to meet at Heathrow, and instead spent the 4 hour layover queuing up at different Heathrow terminals and missed each other altogether.
- the possibility of regime overthrow The past downfall of governments in Albania, Czechoslovakia and Poland, and the overturning of elections in Algeria, have all been connected to the presence of Noramly and wife (i.e. me) at the crucial time. The only governments they don't seem to have been able to topple despite repeated attempts (i.e.visits) are those of the Bush/Blair/Howard administrations.
My younger daughter is at the moment travelling between Scotland UK and Perth Australia, via USA. So far she has only had her credit cards pick-pocketed in London.