Village Scribblings - Family Holidays
PUBLISHED: 10:49 01 April 2011 | UPDATED: 19:07 20 February 2013
Hornblotten's Andrew Warren muses on the trials and tribulations of taking the family on holiday
Hornblottens Andrew Warren muses on the trials and tribulations of taking the family on holiday
Im writing this in the departure lounge at Bristol Airport, a week in Spain ahead. My laptop is sitting, unsurprisingly, on my lap, staking my claim to be an executive traveller, a wireless hot-spotter, and not some fagged-out dad, stained, rumpled and exhausted, catching a quick nap while the family spend money in duty-free before the final call.
Travel, we are told, is glamorous. I cannot help but wonder whats so glamorous about running for a bus trailing fifty kilos of luggage behind me in a variety of bags, none designed to be carried by humans.
I also wonder whats so glamorous about airport security. You queue up, edging forward like cattle in an abattoir until you stand at the front of the line, your coat off, your belt in one hand, your shoes in the other, and your trousers at half-mast. You drop your valuables onto plastic trays for all to see, and then subject them to fiendish death rays. Then, a burly security woman frisks you as you stand with arms and legs outstretched while she cups your testicles feeling for a concealed weapon. With the rest of the herd pushing, you attempt to feed your belt into your trouser loops and hop towards passport control, one shoe still in your hand.
A glance at the departure board tells me that our flight is not boarding yet, which means I can maintain the illusion of the busy executive for a few more precious minutes. I glance over at some of the other executives. One sits, reclining, in a massage chair that shakes his teeth out of his head in an effort to relax him; be interesting to know how hell get the five quid through on his expenses claim, but perhaps hes an MP?
A glance at the departure board tells me that our flight is not boarding yet, which means I can maintain the illusion of the busy executive for a few more precious minutes
I watch the Beep-Beep wagon as it races between unwary travellers at tremendous speed, its orange light winking; Id love to know how you get to go on one. At first glance, I imagine the occupants are passengers being taken to their gates and, being elderly or infirm, cannot make the journey unaided. As our gate is listed on the departure board as being a 15-minute walk from where I am sitting, I glare at the occupants enviously. They do not smile smugly back, and so perhaps the departure gate is not their final destination? Perhaps these are offenders? People who, in an unguarded moment at security, commented, Ill be glad when all this 9/11 nonsense is over, and we can board a plane with our clothes on, and dignity intact. Overheard by the East German border guard that frisked me earlier, they are whisked off in the Beep-Beep wagon to a quiet room on the other side of the airport, where they suddenly find themselves staring down the barrel of a pair of rubber gloves, about to have their sense of humour inspected.
My daughter races over from WH Smiths, and asks me to read her Princesses comic. My stint as an executive is over. I grimace and feel the eyes of the other executives watching me surreptitiously as I stuff the laptop into my carry-all, and turn the first page.
They call our flight, we grab our remaining bags and start the hike to the other end of the airport (why didnt the bus drop us there?, I think, as my breath rasps in my throat and sweat soaks my shirt). I slump into a filthy leather chair in its uncomfortable upright position, and all I can think is, When do they start the drinks service?
Illustration by Flo Fitzgerald