Monday, November 9, 2009

Oh …to be in England

We are back. Any doubts that we were on the right plane were banished by the sight of the rain beading down the windows as we shimmied in for landing.

Pausing to rearrange No.2 daughter on the long walk through Gatwick, I watched it sheeting down the glass panels and dancing on the runway. It was sorely tempting to go straight to the ticket desk and get on the turnaround flight. But no, there are many, many years of school ahead before being able to do a Shirley Valentine.

Besides, 30 minutes later I was too knackered from carrying No.2 to care. For those sans sprogs, on the way out you can trap the child in the buggy right up to the aircraft door. Your buggy is then whisked away to the bowels of the plane to magically reappear on the foreign gangway as you disembark. Champion. Strap in kid and off you go. Not so when returning to London Gatwick. It doesn’t magically reappear. You have to lug the kid a mile and a half to Baggage Reclaim before you get the buggy back. When we left the plane No. 2 was at eye level and I was 5’ 6”, when we got to the buggy I was 5’ 4” and wearing her as a bum bag.

Despite having stopped at every loo, again, - and waited long enough to visibly age while creeping through Passport Control - the crowd of hares from our Malaga plane were still waiting for the bags to appear by the time we tortoises trailed in. So I had a chance, in between changing No. 2’s nappy (who had chosen the very moment I was standing guard on the hand luggage to fill her pants), to eye up the passengers.

Most intriguing were the couple who had been in the row ahead. I was fishing something out of a bag when they had taken their seats so hadn’t seen their faces. Just after sitting down the man had said, loud enough for my benefit, “Well if it starts to kick the seat, complain to its mother. Do you want to swap with me?”
To which the woman had replied, “No – I want the window. Why do I always get the ****** kids?”… Ah, happy days.

I took care to make sure ‘it’ didn’t touch the woman’s seat back. Which was a bit of a challenge, as she had reclined it and then kept throwing herself back into it in rage at the incessant screams of another child in front of her.

This gave me an occasional glimpse of the woman I hope karma will one day bless with colicky triplets. She had the high maintenance look - all skin-tight leather jacket, jeans and knee boots - so beloved in Puerto Banus, Marbella and, of course, Soho. Tossing her long blondish hair she occasionally rummaged with perfectly painted nails into the depths of a Louis Vuitton bag. Definitely one, probably two were fake. I’m not well up on LV to known if it too was a fraud. (They’re just not my bag! – thank you – I’m here all week.)

But fake is not a problem on the Costa. As you leave Malaga airport you are greeted with a huge billboard advertising bust enhancements. One can have one’s pillows re-stuffed and fluffed and still get change out of 4000 euros to afford the requisite new underwear/scaffold. Plastic surgery is so ‘in’ that a very pleasant afternoon may be spent marvelling at the facial alterations and wondering where all the spare skin goes.

First prize went to a woman who was wearing every possible combination of animal print over a suspiciously pert chassis totally at odds with a face that had that disturbingly melted look of those who have OD’ed on Botox, fillers and desperation. Her forehead said twenty; her eyes said seventy and her hands said Tutankhamun. Wearing enough gold chain to moor the Titanic and make up that would be over the top for a drag queen she teetered along clinging to the husbands arm. The husband one almost didn’t notice. But he was making an effort – atop lemon slacks, a lavender silk shirt was trying, unsuccessfully, to hold in his impressive gut and over this ensemble he had casually thrown round his shoulders a red leather jacket. What was not so casual was the fact he had the top button done up – the Costa’s own caped crinkly. To be fair I don’t know if he was crinkly, I didn’t make it to his face before my brain shut down.

They wanted to be looked at and we obliged, a good time was had by all - Which is more than can be said of a friend who had been whisked away to a five star resort in Mauritius for a half term birthday treat.

After circling the airport for an eternity she landed and immediately went down with flu. Still she wouldn’t have wanted to go outside – it was raining. It rained all week, which with two kids and a workaholic husband must have taken the shine off some of those five stars. Still, you have to laugh and she did – amusingly updating her facebook page with the latest typhoon warning while resting her broken toe – another of the week’s little gems
Her last update informed that the butler was packing for them and frankly, why not? Although it did make me a tad nervous on her behalf…
“Excuse me madam, did you pack these bags yourself.”
“No…the butler did it.”
“Ah…if you’d just step this way…”

While it’s always fun to be able to sound like you’re in an Agatha Christie novel it’s not worth a cavity search.

Back in Gatwick Baggage Reclaim, I finally got a good look at skin-tight woman. After directing her companion to add a final bag to the wobbling pile on their trolley she turned and sashayed past me in her 4” heels. Fantasy was sadly let down by reality. Her attitude and accoutrements had set me up to be green with envy at her ravishing beauty but underneath the glamour of dye, paint, false eyelashes and pout she was disappointingly plain – OK, she was munted. But good luck to her. Life may have given her carpet slippers but she put them in a Manolo Blahnik box.

I, myself, have taken to wearing wellies, my slippers having been destroyed by the Gargantuan Puppy. GP has doubled in size and weight during our week’s absence and is taking a delight in savaging the dirty washing stooks in the kitchen.

As I salvage yet another sock from her needle jaws I click my wellied heels three times and whisper ‘There’s no place like home…there’s no place like home’

And as if by magic, I’m there.

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