I was told by a very upset teenager. He and his grandmother were at the library trying to work out what to do. They had just come back from the "Hatched, Matched and Dispatched" Office (Births, Deaths and Marriages) without his birth certificate. He does not have one.
I have known this teen for a long time, virtually all his life. His father was killed in a road accident two days after he was born. His mother walked out on him a few weeks later. Nobody knows where she is. His paternal grandparents brought him up. They did a good job too. He is very well mannered, in a slightly old fashioned sort of way. He is highly intelligent and has done extremely well at school. This is his last year and he should do very well.
His grandfather died a year or so ago. Now it is just him and his grandmother. She would like to go back to the UK to visit family next year and take him with her. He needs a passport. A passport means he needs a birth certificate. His birth has never been registered.
The news was such a shock to them that they had just walked out of the office. They were collecting their bicycles from the rack outside the library when they saw me and told me what had happened. Up until now there has never been any need for a birth certificate. He has not needed a proof of age card and he has not wanted a learn to drive licence as they do not own a car. He has been enrolled at school, used a doctor and a dentist, had his vaccinations and done all the usual childhood and adolescent things without the need for a birth certificate. Now he needs one.
I told them not to panic. There are ways of dealing with such things. It will not be the first time such a thing has happened and it will not be the last. Neither of them are going to be prosecuted for failing to register his birth either. They started to look a bit calmer and asked if I had any idea where they should start the process. Yes, back at the office.
I will go in with the grandmother - for moral support. She is still worried and bewildered. The teen looks at me and says "It's like I don't exist!" It must be.
I think I am glad I think I exist.