The deadliest, jelliest site ever. Brought to you by Niamh Shaw

I consider myself an organized, compulsive, dependable person. This premise forms the foundation upon which my entire self-image is constructed; that I am the type of citizen strangers would ask to pack their parachute, or to whom they would entrust the care of their children.

Seriously, you wouldn’t believe the number of people in public parks who fling kids at me.

Unfortunately, it has become apparent over time that my self-image does not apply to public transport. For many years – in the region of 12 – I have blamed Husband. However, while an attractive feature of marriage is having a vanilla scapegoat for any given circumstance, the truth is that Husband has never – to my knowledge – or, incidentally, his – missed a flight.

Not that I missed a flight on this trip. No, that’s not where this is going – although it does pass through the immediate vicinity.

I made London with the minimum of drama or spilt beverage, and my friends Raff and Carol collected me. 

This time, I escaped unscathed from Stansted, even though the airport is like the geographical equivalent of my nemesis (is there a word for that? Solartap or Vet: I’m counting on you, I have to know that word. It would be great if it had five or more syllables. Also Solartap: update your blog, it’s a disgrace.)

The day after, I got on the Internet to book a place on the 04:00am coach from Cambridge to Heathrow the following morning. Afterwards, because I am organized, reliable and dependable, I decided to check in online for my 08:40 Emirates flight. And even though I know my passport details off by heart, because I am compulsive, I decided to fetch the original document to double-check the expiry date.

Aaand my passport was gone.

The panic was instantaneous. Because I always put my passport and ticket in the left hand pocket of my computer bag, behind my wallet, on top of my international travel adaptor. It lives there; that is its home. If it wasn’t in that pocket, it was not of my luggage. (Ok, if something can be ‘not of this world’, then the same rule must be applicable to luggage, SURELY.)

Still, I spent about five minutes staring into the pocket, occasionally groping around the bottom in case my passport had shrunk to minute proportions in the previous 24 hours, or fallen into a secret compartment I had been unaware of.

Then I tore everything out of both travel bags.


I went downstairs and announced admirably calmly: “Bad news. My passport’s missing.”

“What d’y‎ou mean?” said Raff, understandably.

“My passport! It’s gone! It’s not there! I’ve checked- it’s- this is- ARGH! I can’t believe- I think I might- I might have- no, I couldn’t, I’m so anal, surely not! How- no, WHY, yes; why why, WHY does this always happen to me?”

We went out to the garage and scoured Raff and Carol’s car. It wasn’t there. Similarly, it failed to turn up during any of the several subsequent sweeps of my bags.

“Think back,” said Carol. “When did you have it last?”

“When did I- that’s a good question, I- ok, let me think, I’m pretty sure I had it at Stansted- yes- they check the passport just before baggage reclaim, so I had it- I seem to remember sitting somewhere looking at my photo in the front- it’s a crap picture- blue background doesn’t suit my complexion-”

Instead of gripping my by the shoulders and shaking, Carol said, “So you think . . .”

“Right. Yes, well. It could be in the bathroom just off baggage reclaim. Or the Duty Free. OR the arrivals hall at Stansted.”

I called the airport, and followed the voice prompts to Lost & Found, which had closed at 4:30 or two hours prior. Then I called the Irish Embassy and left an incoherent message on the emergency message machine. Then I called Stansted again and followed another perilous IVR trail to a dead-end.

Following is the text exchange with Andrew:-

Me: Honey, disaster here. I appear to have lost my passport. No, I’m not even kidding. We’re trying to get someone at Stansted. Not looking good for flying tomorrow x

Andrew: Ok.

Meanwhile, Raff took over telephonic negotiations. Using a combination of lethal charm (similar to Yogi Bear’s but several degrees more potent) and applied blagging, he managed to hunt down the Duty Manager at Stansted. And if you’ve ever tried to use Stansted Airports’ IVR system, you will appreciate the skill involved.

“Yes, thanks for taking my call. I have a friend here – she’s Irish,” (like that had anything to do with it) – “and she came through the airport yesterday, thinks she might have left her passport there. And it’s an emergency, because, she has a flight to catch first thing tomorrow morning. So if you wouldn’t mind- if you could just- oh, I see. I understand.”

Then he emitted a sequence of ‘mmms’ which ranged from noncommittal to negative, before he said, “So you have it then?”

Carol and I had an extra-large gin & tonic while Raff biked the 90 minute round trip to Stansted to collect my passport.

There aren’t many friends who will do that for you.

Or, for that matter, get up at 03:15 in the morning to drive you to Cambridge to catch a bus.

They’re great

Of course, they might have wanted to be ABSOLUTELY SURE I left.

I haven’t told them the coach stopped at Stansted en route to Heathrow.



Comments on: "The geographical equivalent of ‘nemesis’" (16)

  1. deadlyjelly said:



  2. Cian said:

    I knew it was the bloody passport. I knew that I should not have mentioned it in relation to getting into Kerry. I really hope that I did not jinx you. I actually feel a tiny bit bad and partly to blame.

    I am thinking of suggesting a new type of passport known as the ‘micro-chip passport’. If I knew how the EU actually worked I would contact the relevant decision making body (Council?) to get them to run with the proposal. I feel that it would benefit you. Perhaps Husband might ensure that you were first in line.

    I’m rather surprized (but delighted) that they handed over the password to Ralf. I mean did they ask him if he had a sex change, or if he is a transvestite?

    Thinking about a present for you and I could not find any passport holders with chains! Yes for wallets but not for passports. Hmm! Maybe only a few have the issue with passports making a run for it. But I have another idea – a passport belt – kind of like a chastity belt. Husband has the key and he locks the passport to you (on a chain, so you do not have to strip at passport control or getting on a ryanair flight, but you will have to be patted down by security) and once you are back in his arms safely he unlocks you. Do you know what, I think I am a frigging genius!

  3. Cian said:

    and obviously by password I meant passport…

  4. MarkJ said:


    It’s really interesting about your passport and all that stuff, but I just have to know….

    Did you really sit on Solartap’s knee playing pat-a-cake?

  5. deadlyjelly said:

    Cian, you TOTALLY jinxed me, and I hold you FULLY ACCOUNTABLE. On the other hand, your plans for revolutionising international travel are indeed genius. I would invest in microchip passport technology – as long as the implant is not in the arse.

    Raff went to the airport equipped with a photocopy of my passport (I have a copy on my computer) upon which I had addressed a lovely little note to the Duty Manager, along with a signature matching that on my passport. However, I think they handed over my passport without further question. Raff is exceedingly compelling.

  6. deadlyjelly said:

    MarkJ, I totally refute playing pat-a-cake. I consider the game childish and inane, and generally complete waste of time.

    I did sit on Solartap’s knee. I also wriggled ever so slightly.

    Because I am a tease.


  7. mumsie said:

    Agreed, you have some very great friends, but then it’s true that making real friends is a mutual process. You also seem to be blessed with a temperament that can cope with true panic situations without ending in the looney-bin – and a husband who can be truly laconic!
    Thanks for making me look up IVR – so now I know what I use when I bank, book tickets, shop at Amazon etc., have used them for years but never had a name for them.
    And I use to work in IT!!!! What it is to be old and enjoying retirement!

  8. Cian said:

    ah bugger – I was hoping that you would have been more in favour of the passport belt idea. On the other hand Dragon’s Den here I come…

  9. deadlyjelly said:

    Hi Mumsie – I may not end up in a looney bin, but there’s plenty of screaming applied to the true panic situations, which seem to happen more often 😦 I’m delighted you now know what IVR is, although you should try and stay away from it as a matter of health.

    Cian – I was totally in favour of the passport belt, but only if the passport microchip proves a commercial failure.


  10. solartap said:

    And…. i still haven’t washed my knee. That is a lot harder than it sounds as i have to stand on one leg in the shower!

    It is hard to find a single word to represent your geographic Nemesis or a Niamh-Trap. The only one that sort of comes close is antipode, kind of apt considering where you live and who you married.

  11. deadlyjelly said:

    While it’s a great word, the definition is ‘a place diametrically opposite another on the globe’. Not quite what I had in mind, but thank you for the effort (please note that would be the minimum socially acceptable measure of thanks since it was such a puny, half-baked sort of effort).


  12. solartap said:

    Hmmmm… that was a bit harsh… after all we have been through: the subtle teasing, the touching of knees, the bum squeezing.

    I thought we had something!

    Next time, I’ll just go for bog standard words or phrases that represent major geographic barriers to Niamh-Travel like Straight Corridors, Clear Signs & Instructions or Maps!

    Tish 😀

  13. deadlyjelly said:

    Honey, I know you like it rough.

    BUT SERIOUSLY, you need to raise your game. I know you have that word. You either read it somewhere, and either thought, “What a pretentious multi-syllabic word much like prestidigitator. I can’t be arsed looking it up”, or “Oh, so THAT’S what it means. Wonder whether I’ll remember it.”

    Come on, stop holding out, you BIG TEASE.

    What is it?


  14. Cian said:

    OMG – Solartap listened to you- he actually updated his blog!!! You really must have wriggled more than ever so slightly…

  15. deadlyjelly said:

    NO WAY! This is UNPRECEDENTED. I’m heading right over.


  16. deadlyjelly said:

    By the way – with the wriggling? I’ve always found subtle to be most effective. Translating the chicken song into a lapdance is just too blatant.


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