Despite the stress and angst planning the yearly trip inevitably brings down on me (I accepted years ago that me and airport personnel do not get on) I make a positive effort to be positive as I lay the ground work for what I always hope will be a fortnight to remember – for all the right reasons.
This year, in addition to deciding the destination, agreeing the departure date and accepting a ridiculously high bill will have to be paid for one night’s hotel and 14 days parking before departure, I also had to face the additional challenge of renewing my passport ahead of getting away.
I had actually collected the rather intimidating bundle of paperwork from the post office and confirmed to the assistant behind the counter ‘‘Terminator’’ style that “I’ll be back”, when Mrs B announced, rather smugly I thought, that she was way ahead of me and had already completed her application on line. Not only that, within a very short space of time she had been told via email it had been accepted and the new document was on its way.
Needless to say, I didn’t need much encouragement to follow her example, so prompty popped up to the High Street to have a few suitably sized headshots taken, dug out my soon to expire and dog-eared travel pass and handed it all over to her to deal with. The end result was as efficient as I’d been encouraged to believe. No sooner had the ‘‘send’’ button been pushed, it seemed to me the ‘‘received’ message arrived. Very quickly after that more good news came down the line culminating with the confirmation that I would, once again, be in receipt of the document that will allow me to travel the globe, in theory at least unmolested, for the next decade. Good news indeed for me. Going by past experience however, maybe not so good for the unsuspecting security and customs staff employed at any of the airports I might opt to fly from and to in the next ten years or so.I don’t know what it is with me and people in uniforms at airports. I seem to attract the stroppy ones like moths to a flame.
I can be standing in a queue of 300 or more holidaymakers, biding my time to move painstakingly forward and ready to ‘‘assume the position’’ for the inevitable scan when I suddenly become a target.
Last year I was standing in lightweight chinos and short sleeved shirt ahead of boarding a flight that would take me to a cruise ship that would sail me to Bermuda when I was hustled out of the line and asked: “What is the purpose of your visit today?” Before I could stop myself and my long-suffering wife could whisper the sage advice of “button it” in my ear, I was off, asking that given my rather stylish dress code that morning wasn’t it obvious I was going off on my holidays?
Once again my reaction led to the uniform having the last word and, the lecture delivered, I was invited to rejoin my travelling companions but, of course, at the back of the queue. I won’t bore you but, par for the course, things typically went downhill from there.