Sunday, 15 August 2010


to the aeropuerto to collect the girls
the elements fluctuate wildly
one minute sunshine
the next a torrential downpour
one minute squinting brightness
the next near darkness
a fierce spray flies up from the wheels of the constant overtakers
lights and windscreen wipers need constant adjustment
whichever setting i choose fails to deal with the weather conditions
at one dip on the other side of the chilterns
the motorway becomes a ford
great splashes of water everywhere
visibility is tenuous
ironic after this long dry spell
i'm actually on time for a change
but the aeroplane isn't
'expected 18:16' reads the arrivals board
it's running 45 minutes late
maybe time for the cloudburst to pass
time for an americano in the arrivals lounge
an inappropriate word for this stark, hard-edged fluorescent space
with its anti-ergonomic metal seats
as i people-watch i am reminded of my brother's comment
'i love heathrow
full of beautiful women from all over the world'
even in this globalised era
and spending my days in a multinational workplace
it's fun to speculate on the origins of this procession of human traffic
to strain for a snatch of lingustic evidence
tempting to take a peak at a tell-tale suitcase label
pretty portugese or brazilian beauty?
danish pastry or double dutch?
chinese, japanese or korean?
i wouldn't bet my life on it most of the time
in between the people-watching
and the fashion parade
i manage to catch up on a few days worth of notebook diary
but still no sign of j & h
it's half past six now
but the double doors leading from the duty free area
are conspicuously underemployed
as all eyes are trained on them from behind the barriers
as if on a catwalk
finally some signs of life
but it's the passengers off another flight from i don't-know-where
one woman emerges before the waiting onlookers
brazenly trolleying along her well-displayed improbably large cleavage
with an equally large grin on her face
there's the usual crowd of miserable-looking meeters-and-greeters
professional waiters
holding up their little placards printed in various scripts
a korean one catches my eye
'sun tours' it says humorously
'torrential tours' more like
at long last
after two hours of waiting
after seemingly two entire planeloads of seoul passengers
have disgorged themselves through the barriers
j & h emerge beaming into the fluorescent spotlight
we embrace in a family hug in the middle of the catwalk
before loading up and setting off back along the motorway
as we catch up on events
it's not until i see signs for reading
that i realize i've forgotten to turn off the m4
next thing i know we've turned into a dead end at some business park
straight out of the opening credits of 'the office'
i keep one eye out for wernham-hogg
as twilight falls
it's a lengthy cross-country stretch through berkshire and buckinghamshire
via a pub dinner at the evocatively named hare's hatch
before we reach the m40
j & h slumber while i count down the long miles
the signs for oxford, bicester, banbury and warwick slowly recede
and it's not long before midnight
when we finally tumble out of the jalopy at number 27
i just can't wait to hit the pillow

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