July 31, 2019 – Never let it be said that there is never progress in Absurdistan. A bureaucratic victory for those of us with longer names.
My parents did not have the foresight – not their fault, how could they? – 50 years ago to see the possibility of their new-born son emigrating to The Beautiful Croatia.
For reasons best known to themselves, they decided to name me Paul David Raymond Bradbury. Quite a mouthful for Croatian officials, and I have had no end of joy over the years.
As I wrote a couple of years ago in Absurdistan: Why You Should Never Have Too Many Names in Croatia, throw a little Croatian bureaucratic incompetence into the pan, and all hell breaks loose.
As you can see from the photo above, my official name was truncated, as there were not enough spaces in the ID card (or more likely, the online form), and so I became know as Paul David Raym instead, although it might have been smarter to have shortened it to Ray, like my famous uncle.
The names have given me much pleasure over the years, as I see Croatian officials totally baffled as to how to address me. It is one of the reasons I insisted that my daughters had at least one middle name each.
Mr. David? Mr. Raymond? Mr. Raym? I have been addressed thus many times over the years. But my favourite, which has happened more than once when my name is reduced to Paul D. R. Bradbury was the following:
Hello, Dr. Paul.
All this was fun while I lived in Dalmatia, where the laganini lifestyle means that pretty much anything goes. It was only when I moved to Varazdin that I realised there was a ‘mali problemcic.’
In order to graduate from the school year, my daughters needed various documentation to prove the identity of their parents.
And it turned out that my kids had not one father, but THREE!
There was Paul David Raymond Bradbury the passport holder, Paul David Raym Bradbury the permanent residence ID holder, and Paul David Bradbury, the chap who married the kids’ mother, according to the wedding certificate. The official translator of our British document had failed to translate Raymond into Croatian (I mean, how hard is it?) and so the girls were born in wedlock to a father with not a hint of Raymond about him.
One of the MANY things I love about living in Varazdin is the fact that the bureaucracy is SO much more efficient than in Dalmatia. It is not perfect (this is The Beautiful Croatia after all) but it is much better, at least in my experience.
But now Varazdin bureaucracy was working against both me and my daughters’ future education.
The process to bring Raymond back into their father’s life should have been a simple one – simply contact the original registrar on Hvar, find the original paperwork and fix the error. But, in Dalmatia, when you need a registrar and only he can do the job, you can almost predict what will happen next.
“No, sorry. The registrar is on sick leave for a month. Then when he finishes his sick leave, he will be going on his annual holiday. Then immediately after his holiday, he will retire. There will then be a public tender and a process to choose the next registrar. Until the new registrar is in place, there is sadly nothing we can do.”
And my two girls could have probably graduated from university with Masters Degrees by the time they had sorted it out.
Fortunately, my ingenious wife tried through the system in Rijeka, where the girls were born, and she found a VERY helpful official who was able to fix the problem.
And then, soon after that came the time for me to register my permanent address in Varazdin, which resulted in the need for a new ID card with new address. The very helpful lady at Varazdin MUP helped me through the process, and she was just about to press the magic button to enter all my details when she had the foresight to ask me to double-check the details to make sure there were no errors.
“Is it possible to make Raym into Raymond,” I asked hesitantly. “You see my third name is Raymond, not Raym.”
She looked, she frowned, and I could sense the cogs ticking round inside the head.
After a moment’s pause, she nodded and said those two words which absolutely terrify me when uttered by a public official or especially a lawyer:
I returned a month later to pick up my new ID, to find Raym had been consigned to the scrapheap.
So for those of you who complain that there is no change in Croatia, I disagree. The national priority of allowing more space on ID cards is working perfectly. You just have to demand your rights.