Saturday, July 21, 2012
Last Call For Gate 13 - Saturday
‘Terrific.’ I groan sitting knees wedged against the coach seat in front, flight bag balanced on knee. ‘Here comes the jocular Geordie’. My wife looks up from her Kindle. How does she do that read peacefully and not fret about the travel arrangements thing?
‘Just don’t listen if she bugs you.’ Suggests my wife before looking down again. I can’t help it. The false-smiled woman hasn’t been seen around the hotel, bar the welcome meeting, since we arrived. By the look of her tan she’s been on her back most of the week on a sun bed she didn’t have to reserve before dawn. And by the look she just gave the Greek porter she’s been on her back most evenings too, no doubt enjoying a stifado or two.
‘Hiya everybody.’ Trills the woman over the tinny microphone. ‘Did we all have a great time?’ A few mumbled responses echo round the coach. The representative has that pulled-back, Essex facelift hairstyle going on, and I’m not buying her false frivolity any more than I purchased her over-priced trips to bars where she gets a kickback and a free lunch.
‘Now has everybody got their passports?’ She quizzes with a grin.
‘What sort of cretin wouldn’t check?’ I say to my wife, just as Ms Miserable, the new divorcee, throws a hand to her mouth and rushes to the front of the coach. Luckily she still had the hotel room safe key in her handbag.
‘Just sit back and enjoy the rest of your holiday now.’ Says the Geordie lass, once Ms Miserable is back on board.
‘Enjoy roasting in a coach with wheezy air conditioning?’ I mimic to my wife just as a mum with a seven year old, asks if they can use the hotel toilet before we leave. They’ve already been on board for an hour and a half as the pick-ups are all about what suits the holiday company. We are still going to be at the airport three hours before the plane leaves – not including flight delays.
As the coach trundles through town I see the estate agent outside his office chatting to a shopkeeper, cigarette in hand. They are doubtless bemoaning the state of the market. We do the same, just under an umbrella. It was dark when we arrived and now I get to see what the place looks like beyond the narrow strip of tourist shops. It’s a dump. We pass several closed down shopping centres, windows whitewashed out, not even the British dodge of rent free charity shop leases, to give a pretence of affluence. I spy numerous for sale boards that have clearly been in-situ for months, if not years. It seems having disused white goods in the front garden is popular here too, that and a huge f**k off Alsatian on a long chain, to deter postmen and estate agents doing leaflet drops.
‘Looks like their property market is worse than ours.’ I tell my wife as we pass dozens of half-built units rising from the dust, in a post-apocalyptic-like landscape. Coarse scrub is growing round many of the skeletal properties as nature follows the banks in reclaiming the homes. A sun-bleached hording proclaims luxury villas to be constructed but all I see is several hectares of streets laid to plots, crumbling kerbstones and rusting light-posts - testimony to the folly of expecting property values to perpetually ignore Isaac Newton’s laws of gravity.
‘Just don’t think about work now.’ Mutters my wife distractedly. Then the holiday rep is back on the microphone.
‘I’m passing out a questionnaire’ She trills.
‘Big mistake.’ I say quietly. We find punters use feedback forms as a forum to grumble, or extort compensation.
‘Next it’ll be the charity they’re supporting wanting your leftover Euros.’ I prophesise and sure enough the bag starts to come back over everyone’s heads. I just wish I could predict the lottery numbers so accurately.
‘I feel heavy.’ Says my wife as I pass the sparsely filled bag to the couple behind, unburdened by my contribution. They say travel broadens the mind. It certainly broadens the waist.
‘Diet starts tomorrow.’ She announces.
More slim pickings.
The not for charity property book