Lucy Baring on the joy of a lost passport: ‘I’ll stay at home, enjoy the sweet peas in full throttle, read a thriller, drink cold wine and watch films that nobody else likes’

Lucy Baring loses her passport and finds a very different kind of holiday.

Whenever I’m in a supermarket, I start humming It’s a Wonderful, Wonderful Life. I have no idea why; it just happens. This morning, as I hum in front of the fruit juices, it makes no sense at all.

Yesterday, I sat down to finish this column, hoping to complete it before going away. Zam is quickly checking us in before heading off to give a vineyard tour. ‘Where’s your passport?’ he calls. ‘In The Drawer,’ I call back. He can’t see it, but he has to go, so will finish checking in later. I’m not worried. I realise he’s looking for a red one, when mine is blue.

I would like to tidy the house because, having recently finished working at The Grange Festival, housekeeping has reached an all-time low, but there’s no time. I find it hard to concentrate on writing because I think I’d better get my passport. I’ll finish this later or, if necessary, on holiday. I’ll still meet the deadline. It is only midday.

I am surprised not to find the passport in The Drawer. I rifle through vertiginous piles of paper nearby in case it has somehow been left out and absorbed by them. I look in my bag, the file labelled ‘holidays’, the side pockets of all luggage including suitcases we haven’t used for years. I open all drawers in all furniture and find two that are actually empty. Good to know. I begin to feel a little anxious, but not very. I haven’t used the passport since last summer. Have I?

I scroll through my phone to see if I’ve taken a screenshot of it to send someone, anyone, in the past 12 months. Have I used it as ID for some reason? I search ‘passport’ in my computer documents, text messages and emails. It is not in the photocopier. I ask all the children if they remember seeing me with it. I go through the pockets of all coats and every bag on every hook. I ring my sister who says she will come and help look. We pray to St Anthony and she ties a ribbon around a chair leg.

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Zam comes home and we go through every room again. I take all the cookbooks off the shelf. We lift furniture and I shine my torch underneath. We search the car. None of us have any confidence now because passports live in The Drawer and nowhere else.

By 7pm, I have reached two conclusions. The passport isn’t here and the house is a cobweb-covered dust heap, but I can’t sit down, so search the freezer, the sheds, the spice drawer. At midnight, I begin to wonder if a burglar has popped by and taken one passport out of The Drawer. I have gone mad.

This morning, I waved off Zam and two children. I am still rather stunned by this turn of events and think I may be dreaming. I go to the supermarket and find I’m humming ‘It’s a wonderful…’ — even today. When I emerge, I am hit by a wave of heat that feels like Greece. Which is where I am meant to be. A passing customer asks if I’d like him to take my trolley back, ‘because you look…’ He doesn’t finish the sentence. Mad? I smile. His kindness has cheered me up.

The heat builds. I will give the pelargoniums a drink, enjoy the sweet peas in full throttle, read a thriller, drink cold wine and watch films that nobody else likes. I will cancel the passport and never understand where it went. It’s too hot to clean. And I re-wrote this column.