Six months spent on the Island of Tenerife comes to an end unreasonably quickly, no sooner did it feel that I arrived than I am leaving again. The reason I came was to escape Covid by getting far away from London and parking my fat ass on an Island in the Sun, one full of pretty girls & beautiful women, cheap booze & good food. I thought that was a cunning plan.
As I stand on a street corner in Santa Cruz at 4am my suitcases around me & a fag in my hand I wait for my taxi to the airport, it occurs to me that my cunning plan has come to naught, I am returning to the UK with winter on the way, with Covid garnering its forces for a second coming, a bunch of personal difficulties to address, as well as the prospect of the UK’s ultimate exit from the EU looming & dark political times in many countries, & environmental catastrophes seemingly occurring more and more regularly across the World and the list goes on…………
In short I finally have to admit in the face of the great big Shit Show that appears to loom ahead that you can run away from problems, but it doesn’t make those problems go away.
So now, somewhat grumpily and belligerently I return to face the music.
I’m not looking to address any global issues just yet, but instead start closer to home with my own stuff, that’s the plan, in theory at least.
The taxi arrives on time & I am whizzed to the airport, the drive takes a mere fifteen minutes, there are no cars on the road. I am the only person at the airport, 3 hours early for my flight. Getting there ridiculously early I then spend hours twiddling my thumbs and wishing I wasn’t quite so anally retentive about time.
The flight takes off promptly at seven a.m and I’ve never had less hassle getting thru airport security. The flight is busy, everyone is masked, we are each given an antiseptic wipe by the stewardesses and clear instructions how to use them. I sleep the two and a half hours to Madrid as I had spent the previous 24 hrs awake, tidying up my room at two in the morning – which after six months of me being in it was in dire need of a good clean.
Arriving at Madrid faced with two pathways for mainland entry, E.U. Citizens & Non E.U. I naturally head for the later, galling though the need was, bloody Brexit. The customs official asks to see my passport and when she sees it’s British instructs me to go back through the EU line, I chirp up, I’m still European? She laughs & I wonder if she just feels sorry for us Brits.
Madrid airport is dead quiet, all the boutique shops are shuttered up, row upon row of them, I find just one cafe open and take a coffee and a bun & an orange juice, or as us Spanish speakers say un cafe con leche, sumo de naranja e un bun, price 4 euros 95 which seems reasonable for airport fare which is usually a bloody rip off.
Plane 2 is a big jet, one of the Airbus variety, its about 1/2 full. There’s plenty of room to spread.
We are delayed on the runway for two hours, reasons unspecified, or if they were I couldn’t understand the explanations over the tannoy, in either Spanish or English.
On the approach to Heathrow the Pilot advises us that London is twelve degrees and it’s raining. That figures. At passport check I’m asked for my Declaration form, the one you have to complete before flying for Covid tracking, the customs fella duly looks at my phone, I can’t see all of the form he tells me, you’ve only taken a screen shot, not the whole form. I need to see the entire form. I shrug my shoulders, he tuts, then too disinterested to pursue the matter waves me through.
I head out of the terminal into nighttime London, misty, cold, wet. I take a cab, I ask the cabbie how business is, he replies fucking awful.
Then for the next 45 minutes I watch as the meter ticks relentlessly upwards and the cab windows cascade with torrential rain. By target roundabout a mere seven or eight miles the meter stands at £70. By the time we reach my ultimate destination it’s £120.
£120 I say as I hand over a pile of banknotes, no wonder business is fucking awful. The cabbie doesn’t reply and he doesn’t get a tip.
My son opens his front door & helps me with my bag and gives me a big hug and the idea of winter and dark nights & shitty weather & and all the other things waiting for me down the line flow away like the rain on the pavement, it doesn’t really matter, I’m home.