It didn’t start well.
Some petty consular agent with a very different understanding of the French language to mine was going to deny me my civic rights. No way Jose!
Aux armes citoyens! My (civic) Liberty shall not be denied, I demand my Equality. But you can keep your Fraternity. I don’t want you as a brother, sister!
I was redirected to the Service Contentieux (you know you are in a French embassy when the complaints department is as big as the passport office) but knew I would get the same misinterpretation as to what constitutes a valid form of identity. My Irish driver’s licence fits all the criteria set out by them: an official document, delivered by a Member State of the E.U. with my name, photograph, date and place of birth. Why the fuck would you list it as a valid form of ID if on the day you will only accept a French passport or ID card (“même périmés”, I wouldn’t want to put that to the test… Might actually try in two weeks’ time).
I was lucky to spot the head honcho himself who was doing a bit of PR by taking the details of some of the thousands of voters (I am not exaggerating) who each queued for about two hours to vote.
I pleaded my case to Monsieur l’Ambassadeur, explained that this was not just a case of administrative misinterpretation (pettiness is a perk of the job for underpaid consular agents) but a much more serious case of denial of a fundamental civic right, as enshrined in the statute of the Republic.
I was upgraded to the top of the queue at the Service du Contentieux (my apologies to the other raleurs) with an express recommendation from the boss man that my little problem be addressed asap.
They still wouldn’t accept my perfectly valid Irish driver’s licence but issued me on the spot with a cute little Carte Consulaire, with a photograph of me that dates from twenty years ago when I was 20 kilos slimmer and wearing my cool leather jacket bought in Texas (that’s what they had on file).
I happily rejoined the snaking queue, and 90 minutes later voted for the guy I don’t like to try and stop the woman I abhor.
I discovered during the process that the under two years old are not very keen on civic practices. Or long snaking queues. There were a few meltdowns. And some very very stressed parents.
Anywaym, it’s done. Round one.
Back to the same craic in two weeks’ time. I think I’ll bring my Carte d’Identite from 1982 with me. The one that expired in 1992. It says on the form that it is a valid form of ID…