“Honest Mike. I think that man on the top balcony hasn’t got any clothes on! He’s got his legs wide open!!”
Jane was plainly scandalized. It wasn’t stopping her furiously trying to see over her book though.
I was still lost in the haze of heat, part stupified and half asleep. Facing the opposite direction, I only managed to open one eye and roll my head over my shoulder for a obligatory glance. There was an over weight man on the top floor balcony, but my view was blocked by the towel over the handrail. I let my head roll back.
“Good for him.” I mumbled. ” At least he won’t have sweaty balls. Mine feel like treacle on a radia -.”
“Mike! Seriously! He can’t just sit there like, like – that!!”
The end of our holiday was drawing to a close and to be honest, I didn’t have the energy to worry about this chap with his tallywacker hanging out.
It really had been an odd break, not as peacefully relaxing as I had expected and it had begun with our initial stressful journey to catch our flight here.
I finished my last post The Fiddler On The Balcony having arrived at the airport en-route to my holiday destination after a some what traumatic experience getting there. As we waved my daughter off, we did so with one eye on the entrance doors, desperate to just get inside the airport and check in so we knew we were actually going to make the flight.
This wasn’t an ideal beginning to our holiday. I like a nice early start, arriving at the airport completely relaxed and ready for the flight. As it was there was a definite air of anxiety about the quick steps that finally took us through the doors into Terminal 2 to face The Queue.
My immediate impression as I hurried through the entrance doors was;
Blimey, every check in desk is busy.
That was the initial impression until the reality of the situation struck me and I stuttered to a stop, the automatic doors closing behind me did a double take and swished back open.
This wasn’t a number of ragged queues to various check in desks.
This was one. One huge queue snaking left to right from one end of the desks to the other, then zig-zagging back the opposite way. The volume of people simply filled the floor space. And it didn’t stop there as we found out when we headed for the back of the line.
We eventually discovered that it disappeared down a corridor on the way to Terminal 1
“Seriously. What is the point of on-line check in? Seriously??”
Was what I heard from the couple in front.
And they were quite right. What is the point of on-line check in when it doesn’t save any time what’s so-ever? We never seem to avoid a huge queue in order to get through to the departure lounge, where, insult to injury, during the time it takes to get there, there are enterprising staff constantly wandering through the crush offering to “fast track you”.
For a fee.
We weren’t late, we were just later than we would normally get to the airport for. We still had two hours to get through check in, security and into the departure lounge. I just accepted it with a mental “Wellll, at least we’re on our way“.
It took us 45 minutes to reach the front of the shuffling line to check our bags in. You know what its like. Shuffle along a couple of steps with your case rocking on its wheels because its not actually moving anywhere when you take one step, while someone behind you – in this case the most impressive Mono-brow Man I’ve ever seen – is getting too close for comfort because of course, they think that will make the line move faster.
Little Jonny in front with his own miniature case. Really bright and shiny, embossed with characters from The Avengers. Oh, and a teddy shaped back-pack strapped to his shoulders, loaded with so much shit that’s he’s having trouble walking and dealing with the laws of gravity. It’s touch and go whether or not he’s going to topple over backwards.
So, there’s a five year old given the responsibility of pulling his own case to the check in desk, trying to keep his balance and remember to pull his luggage each time the line moves. Then, when he forgets, leaves it behind and blocks the line behind (me) from moving forwards. He’s then gently berated for not doing so, while dad takes hold of the handle, rolling his eyes at me as if to say “Kids eh? Ahahah“. Then when dad lays a hand on little Jonny’s luggage, the child begins a professional strop and begins to vocally insist, (punctuating each point with a stamp of the foot) hewantstopullhisownfuckingcase.
Of course, then mum steps in and tells dad to let Jonny pull his own luggage in order to keep him quiet. We catch up with the back of the line and then begin the process again next time it moves forward.
And during this I find I’m doing exactly what the person behind me is doing that’s irritating me. Edging closer to the slow moving family in front. Like I can make the line go faster with my close proximity. Every one is doing it. It’s like one massive bottle neck behind Jonny.
The little bastard.
Honest to God, if it wasn’t for airport security, the next time I felt my neighbor’s case behind me bump my legs, I’d have turned round and ripped his eyebrow off then I’d have drop kicked that little fuckers case in front to the other side of the check in hall, then trampled him just to gain ten uninterrupted feet.
Eventually, we reached the front. I immediately felt my worries lighten as I fired my case through to where-ever it goes to reach my aircraft. I almost skipped along to head through the doors that led to security.
I only got as far as opening the door to reach the back of the next queue. Jesus this was unbelievable.
What followed next was an hour or so of the same intrusive shuffling to reach the security check point. I lost contact with Mono-Brow Man but found myself still directly behind Little Jonny. Fortunately one of the senior staff must have realized that two out of six X-ray machines (d’oh) just weren’t shifting the congestion and decided to open another two.
We were guided to one of the newly opened machines, peeling us away from Little Jonny. I have to admit I have trepidation over this point in our journey as it didn’t go well last year. (See Nikos And His Cocktail Shaker)
I went through the motions of placing my hat, watch, belt, camera and hand luggage into the proffered box, then slid it into the inspection area. Then I moved through the X-ray machine to wait for my tray of belongings.
After watching so many airport reality shows, I must admit I’m always a bit paranoid at airport security. All those people who get stopped who are adamant they have nothing illegal in their case’s, even though there are readings of various drugs/illegal food/TNT from swab inspections, that they have no idea how they came to contaminate their luggage
So, it was inevitable that I was left clawing at fresh air as my bag went off at a tangent just before I could get a grip on it and a guard waved me over to him.
The only small consolation I had was seeing five year old little Jonny’s teddy back-pack do the same thing in the adjacent inspection counter. Ha.
Lay on my sun lounger by the pool, I reflected on the journey. I looked over to Jane who had slipped into the water out of the heat. She was resting at the far end of the pool, her chin on her arms talking to the older lady who was sunning her self at the opposite end. They were both surreptitiously eyeing the balcony where our over weight nude was tanning himself in his private sun-trap.
The conversation at the end of the pool was almost conspiratorial. Obviously Jane had become disappointed at my lack of interest in the 17-stone or so of chiseled naked lard three floors above us and had gone out of her way to tell someone else.
I saw them both stiffen and muffled shocked laughter. They must have had a better view from over there. Obviously Brad Fatt had done something new. The lady Jane was speaking to turned to her husband to frantically get his attention. Jane peeled away from her new friend and began swimming like Jonny Weismuller across all 10 feet of pool.
Obviously this was important. I wasn’t in any rush to find out mind. I turned my face back to the sun’s heat and thought again of aggravation involved in getting to this point in my holiday.
I was back in front of the security guard.
“Anything you need to tell us about in here sir?” Asked the deadpan faced guard, gesturing into the box with my belongings with a ready swab on a stick.
I’m not good in these situations I must admit. I just have an immediate attack of guilt. Like I have something to hide, because my imagination is already running various scenarios through my mind. And they all end up with me spread-eagled, naked against a wall gnawing my bottom lip and whinneying. While behind my unseeing eyes I can hear the Snap of latex gloves and a Gloop of applied jell.
My attention turned to my wife. Jane, waiting for me, met my eyes. She just mouthed Shut up. She had been there the year before and seen me crumble under the pressure of remembering I had a pen knife in my hand luggage as we had approached security. To say I blabbered my way through that experience is an understatement.
Just comply. Don’t antagonize the nice man. Be helpful.
“Sir?” He was staring at me with eyebrows raised.
“What? Oh! Ahahaha. No. Nononono. Of course not!”
The guard just let his eyes linger on me as he began swabbing through my inspection box. I just smiled back weakly hoping to Christ I hadn’t come into contact with a drug runner in the congested entrance hall while queuing.
While next to me little Jonny was demanding his case off the bad man. My case! Want it! NOW!!NOWWWWW!!
That kid had balls.
The guard dealing with him was becoming uncomfortable with the noise being generated by the child. I could see straight away how this would unfold.
Yeah. You’ll be sorry kid when they show you the gloves.
My attention slid back to my own predicament. The guard was hovering over my camera case.
“Is this yours sir? Did you pack it yourself? Has anybody else looked after it while you’ve been in the airport?”
My eyes darted from the guard to the camera case and back to the guard. I looked at Jane. Her expressionless face conveyed more to me than if she had spoken any words.
All of us turned to look at little Jonny next door, who was getting physical and trying to pull his Teddy bear back-pack from the grip of guard No 2.
I could hear the lid being unscrewed off the tube of jell.
My attention snapped back to my own guard. Shit. Is this a bluff? Please don’t let there be horse steroids in there. I don’t remember packing any. Oh fuck. What’s he found? How do I answer? I must confess I was on the verge of throwing Jane to the wolves and saying her name in answer to all his questions. And I would have done but eventually they would have let her out and she’d neverletmeforgetit.
Then reality kicked back in and I confirmed it was mine.
He opened it and checked out the contents. Then the stoney expression changed to a friendly one, and in an almost cheerful tone of voice he said,
“Ok Sir. All good here. If you’d like to repack your belongings you can go through. Have a nice holiday!”
I was almost disappointed. It was a complete anticlimax to what my imagination had been picturing for me. Next door, little Jonny was escalating his own situation and was now a whirling dervish in the arms of his father.
I had to take my hat off to the kid. He wasn’t taking any messing about with his teddy back-pack. I stopped for a moment to watch his long suffering father and our eyes met again. And over the flailing arms and legs his father managed another, eye-roll and a – Kid’s eh? Ahahaha – look.
Yeah. I readdressed my first thought.
Please God. Let them find ten pounds of cocaine in his back pack.
I wasn’t allowed to linger to find out. Jane was already pulling me towards the doors leading to the embarking area.
“The time. Look at the time!”
That got my attention back. I glanced at my watch and realized we had 25 minutes before the plane actually left. We hurried through the doors into the departure lounge and were met by the announcement that the gate to our flight was now open to board.
Seriously. This had not been a relaxing experience.
Ten days later, lay on my sunbed, listening to my wife swim like an Olympian across the small pool, I could afford to smile about the experience.
The sudden drops of cold water across my chest brought me back to the present.
“Jesus Jane! What’s -”
“He’s touching himself!! He’s only sat there, spread eagled having a fiddle!!”
Jane was sat next to me on her own sunbed, bent almost double with her arms folded across her lap, leaning forward vibrating with an urgency to whisper hoarsely at me. She was happily scandalized at the prospect of this fat bloke thirty foot above us knocking one off.
“Maybe they never allowed him to play a recorder at schoo-”
Really. I didn’t want to know. My mental imagery sensors balked at the idea. My attention remained stoically fixed on the hills in the hazy distance.
“Look! Look!! ” She was now giving frantic head gestures, trying to make me look in the direction she kept indicating.
“Jane, really, I don’t think I want -”
“You can just see between the towels. He’s not half giving it a yank!”
Her lips suddenly ceased to move and she began whispering like a ventriloquist, with her eyes now fixed on me, refusing to let her gaze be drawn upwards.
“Oh ma Gog. I “ink ee’s ‘een me ‘ooking! Gon’t ook. Gon’t ‘ook!!”
Yeah, like I was just about to..
I didn’t even have to consider whether or not I was turning my gaze where she had been encouraging me to look. I most certainly was not disturbing my current repose with the actual visual of the picture Jane was painting
At the other end of the pool, I realized the lady Jane had been speaking to had been having a similar conversation with her husband. It was obvious from her sudden attention to tidying around her sunbed that she had been caught looking too.
Jane suddenly began speaking in her normal urgent whisper again.
“It’s ok. He’s going inside -”
“Well he probably needs a hanky -”
“Stoppit! Omg! can You believe what he was doing?? Right out in the open!!”
“Not really Jane, no.” I answered. ” Not on a day like today. It’s roasting. He deserves a medal really. Which is why you should have a bit of consideration for the poor bugg – ”
“Bit of consider – what? What? What are you talking about? Don’t you realize he’s having a bloody wan -”
“Well, you know when I go on a long bike ride?”
“What? Yes? And??”
” You know I go loaded up? Spare inner tubes, mini tools, drinks, snacks-”
“What the hell are you talking about??”
“Well, my point being, you know when I forget to take the jelly – baby’s out of the back pocket? Of my jersey?”
“And they’re all sticky and soft and gluey? Sweaty almost. Yeah. that’s a good description. Sweaty. Stuck to your fingers. Because of the heat? And it’s not nice handling them? ”
“Well, Have a heart Jane. Think of how much determined effort that poor fella is putting in. Straining to reach the finish line. In this heat! What he’s having to work with! Having to fiddle with his very own jelly bab-”
“Oh my God! Michael!!”
I must admit, the disgusted reaction was worth it.
This one’s for Viv. Hope all’s good with you.