Jeremy Clarke Jeremy Clarke

The joy of my new British passport

[Photo: Paul Maguire / Alamy Stock Photo]

‘Anything you want?’ says Catriona on her way out of the house to go to the shop. I’m standing at the hob stirring a first batch of Low Life’s 2021 Pandemic Second Wave green tomato chutney. (My outdoor homegrown tomatoes stopped turning red just before Christmas.) The wooden spoon stops revolving while I google my brain for things I want.

No results. Materially, I have everything I need. Too much of everything. What I once looked on as too few clothes now strikes me as insane excess. I’ve got a Honda Jazz that starts first time parked down in the village, lent to me by a friend for as long as I need it. I’ve books, pens, paper, ink, fags, gin, tonics and there’s ice and a lemon in the fridge. We’ve logs and last year’s pine cones for kindling and a newish box of long matches. In the bread bin is a fresh crusty loaf and the last time I looked a half-box of chocolate fingers. I’ve 100 Tetley teabags in hand and a blue-top bottle of French half-fat milk. My razor blade remains sharp and there’s an unsqueezed tube of toothpaste in the bathroom cupboard. The house is a little on the small side, but if I feel hemmed in I can go outside into the dusty garden featuring giant palms, ferns and cacti and the mimosa is coming out. And on most days I have sunshine. I only have to step outside and turn my face to it and I can feel the warmth of the sun on my cheek.

My new, black passport may look and feel a bit cheap, but it fills me with joy to know I am British once again

‘Nope,’ I tell her and resume my stirring with the anxious concentration of a green tomato chutney virgin.

‘But if you see anything on the shelves marked ‘gaiety’ get half a dozen, will you?’

For we’ve been feeling the strain a bit lately.

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