Irish-ism has made it the whole way to Switzerland! I had to re-new my passport recently and as there isn’t a consulate in Basel I had to get in touch with the embassy in Bern. So I dropped them an email and the form arrived in the post with all the necessary bits and pieces.
“Lovely”, said I, as I scanned through the form and ticked off everything I needed to send back. Previous passport, birth cert, the right size photos, the usual stuff. I then got to the back page and they required a witness to sign it. The eligible witnesses were as follows, although I can’t remember all of them:
- School Headmaster
So there was a good choice but I didn’t have any. My doctor here doesn’t know me from Adam, likewise for the police. I don’t have a lawyer or accountant and my school headmaster hasn’t seen me in eleven years. I haven’t been to church here so I didn’t feel like going in and asking the local padre for an autograph. So the logical choice for my witness was my boss. As he wasn’t technically on the list and I had left the renewal to the last minute, I couldn’t risk anything going wrong. So I gave the embassy a call. Here’s how the conversation went:
Me: Ah, hello, I’ve got a quick question regarding the witness eligibility on the passport renewal form.
Embassy: Sure, what do you need to know?
Me: Well, I was wondering if my boss would fit the bill. He’s a professor of Biochemistry at the University of Basel.
Embassy: Is he a doctor?
Me: He has a doctorate alright but he isn’t technically a medical doctor.
Embassy: Ah, well he won’t do then.
Me: Could I put him under School Headmaster? He could technically be one!
Embassy: No, sorry, it’ll have to be someone on the list.
Me: He holds a professorship and a doctorate in biochemistry and has worked all round the world. He has had his own lab for twenty years, has published in plenty of peer-reviewed scientific journals, has also edited a number of those in his time, he’s married with two kids, plays the French horn and is an all round nice guy. Honest as well. Are you sure he won’t do?
Embassy: Nope, he’d have to be a medical doctor. Do you have a priest? Or a lawyer?
Me: Neither, but you’d take a school headmaster over my boss? Or an accountant? I’m going to have to think about it. Thanks for the help.
Embassy: No problem, bye.
So I went and got the boss to sign it and sent it off. They didn’t bat an eyelid. I should give up being honest and just get on with it.