This year his collection was arranged chronologically. By Issue Date.
Last year he had spent the entire month of March ordering it by Date Of Birth.
And the year before that the same length of time sorting alphabetically by Surname.
Order was important to him, although none of this was to aid indexing or to increase the speed with which he could find a specific passport. He always chose them at random, when he wanted something to read. Selected indiscriminately, enjoyed and then replaced with absolute care and precision.
This one – a UK Passport of admirable vintage. He ran his finger down the rugged edges of each page, feeling by association every pocket it had been slipped into and connecting, intimately, with a thousand banal moments from the life of its previous owner.
A blood stain on the photo page made it difficult to make out the subject’s features. But he remembered very clearly the night he had collected this specimen. The photo was almost superfluous. He smiled, recalling every detail, every nuanced expression, every gurgle…
He would have to go soon – it was almost time to begin work again. And he was lucky – he did so love his job.
I wonder, he thought to himself, how many will have Nothing To Declare tonight?