Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Homeward Bound - Sunday

‘We just have three more pick-ups then I’ll be back to you in forty minutes with details of your check-in desk.’ Chirrups the annoying, tubby Newcastle girl, who only knows a lot of Greek because she’s shagged half the resort waiters in the last six months. We’re on the coach home and already I’m stressed. I’m still not sure the driver put both cases on board the bus, which could be a mixed blessing as I’ve a feeling we might be a bit overweight on baggage, as well as personally. The all-inclusive package majored on quantity not quality, but if it’s available…

‘Glad we didn’t stay there.’ I say to my wife, as the coach stops outside a budget option, with rooms on to the main road. She shushes me in disapproval. Apparently I have volume control issues. Something to do with pool water in both ears and playing my iPod at high volumes to drown out any chance of conversation with fellow guests wanting free, no obligation valuations on a home 2,000 miles away. I watch, as a hot and stressed chavvy family of five climb on the bus – not that I’m judgemental. The squealing kids are high on sugar and the tattooed parents look half-pissed. The wife is wearing an unflattering crop-top, showing a vast stomach with a pierced belly button that might prove challenging at security. The oafish-looking father of at least one of the kids, judging by the noses, is sadly sporting an England football top. It makes you want to give up.

‘Gate five, enjoy your flight home.’ Chimes Geordie Shore, as I think endure, more like. The big-arsed girl exits stage left with a swarthy-looking driver named Spiros. They clearly have time, or something, to fill before the next incoming flight. I grab the bags and start limping as fast as I can towards the appointed gate.
‘There’s no point in hurrying,’ says my wife annoyingly. ‘You can’t beat the system.’ God, I hate it when she’s right.
Needless to say the family of five future claimants are right behind us in the check-in queue. One that moves at a sloth’s pace, for the next forty minutes, while the youngest budding My Fat Gypsy Wedding starlet, whacks my ankles with one of those ubiquitous ride on cases the Dragons' Den moguls turned down. And they say travel broadens the mind.

‘Can you drink any more?’ Asks my wife, as we halt outside the scanners and join the undignified queue of quaffers all necking as much water and fizzy soft drink as they can hold, before being forced to bin all liquids. There’s a small mountain of unopened cans and bottles being harvested by a sly-faced cleaner. I fully expect to see, spookily similar items on sale at five times the price, just fifteen yards past the x-ray machine. The stress is building and that’s before the inevitable pat down by a vast Cretan with body odour and halitosis, after I set off the scanner buzzer despite having stripped to little more than my underpants and a t-shirt. I swear that back surgeon left some sort of surgical instrument in there somewhere. I should sue, like everyone else.

‘Nothing worthwhile in duty free.’ Reports my wife as I hop back and forth, guarding the bags but desperate for a piss after drinking several litres of water in short order. ‘It’s all a bit overpriced.’ She continues. Like the London property market then, I think, as I leave her with the hand luggage and check out the grim Greek plumbing for the last time. Look, I’m not putting the toilet paper in an adjacent flyblown bin, no matter how many languages you put the sign in. You’re in the EEC now - sort your sewerage out.

‘We have a zero tolerance policy for disruptive behaviour.’ Warns the camp cabin steward, seconds before announcing the ninety-minute air-traffic delay. Then the five-year old kid with a nose stud, sitting behind, starts kicking my seat.

Five and a half hours of coughing, sneezing, seat battering and incipient deep-vein thrombosis later – the knee length socks with shorts are best kept to the imagination – we plunge into a murky Gatwick airport.

I need a break.


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