After twenty-seven years and a bit of being Stephanie Dagg, I’m back to being Stephanie Oakley. Don’t panic – I haven’t divorced Chris, or done away with him, boiled him down and fed him to the pigs. I’m referring to my driving licence. I finally got round to collecting it today. It was ready in early November but I haven’t been able to get to Gueret until now for various reasons. (And I almost wished I hadn’t today since the car got bashed in the car park by someone, but at least they were decent enough to leave their details.)

That's my new permis, top left in my purse.

That’s my new permis, top left in my purse.

My new driving licence is very smart, credit-card sized and a French one, but puzzlingly in my maiden name. You have to put that on the application form, together with your ‘nom d’usage’, in my case Madame Dagg, but it’s my nom de jeune fille that’s been put on the licence. This is presumably normal practice, and it’s not a big deal, just a little odd. The main thing is that I have my permis!

So that battle with bureaucracy wasn’t so bad. We’re gearing up for the next one, which will be Caiti applying for French nationality. I took her dossier in to the appropriate department today and it didn’t get off to the greatest start. The woman took an instant dislike to Caiti’s birth cert and asked for the original. I said it was the original and drew her attention to the fact that it been apostilléed on the back by the Irish authorities. I explained that large and white was how birth certs came in Ireland, but she still looked deeply suspicious.

I then handed in Caiti’s casier judiciaire (i.e. proof of no criminal record). “But this is French,” she sniffed. “I need an Irish one.” I pointed out that Caiti was 12 when we left Ireland. Given that the age of criminal responsibility is 12 in Ireland, and she turned 12 in the April and we moved to France in the August, that left her with only a four-month window of opportunity in which to turn to crime. Not totally surprisingly, she didn’t, and I can’t think there is any sort of document you can obtain that vouches to the innocence of a minor. We shall see.

And then… actually, I’d better stop there since we want Caiti to achieve/be awarded/whatever-the-apt-verb-is her nationality and not be drummed from France’s shores for subversion!

It will all work out eventually but I can foresee we are going to have to be patient and assertive during the process, and prepared to lose a good few handfuls of hair!