By Jerzy Morkis
I need a holiday. I want a holiday. I’m due a holiday. But I don’t think I can face one.
Well, that’s not strictly true, what I can’t face is the travel involved to get somewhere and then the travel involved in getting back.
It’s a bit like the Martin Sheen character in Apocalypse Now when Capt Willard says: “After this mission, I’d never want another”.
The main problem is if you want guaranteed good weather, or as near a guarantee as you can, this is likely to involve flying. To me this remains an unnatural process and being 6’ 2” means I am wedged into an equally unnatural position. However, I can thole that for two or three hours as it less of an ordeal than the whole airport process.
My last holiday was Madeira, and there wasn’t too much wrong with that.
Well... the cottage I rented was “secluded but within 400m of shops and restaurants”. That was a fair description but would have been more accurate if the word “vertically” was inserted after the 400m. It was like living half way up Largo Law. But, apart from that, and I’m pretty sure ther cottage was haunted (but that’s another story), it was fine. But what scunnered me was getting there. The computers were down at Glasgow and the decision was made for all passengers for Corfu, Crete, Cancun, Majorca and Madeira to be herded together into the one waiting area and be checked in by pen and paper.
Oh what fun we had these four hours in this one enormous queue.
You had to have sympathy for the mum with two screaming kids who, when shown a card with various weapons on them asked if she had any in her suitcase, yelled: “If I had, don’t you think I’d have used them by now?”.
Then, of course, the pilot hadn’t received his take-off approval – because that is also computerised – so we had to sit cramped on the plane waiting for someone to turn up, probably with a Post-It that said “All clear...”
I reckon I can trace my poor relationships with airports back a few years now to a trip to visit family in Poland.
That was fine, Edinburgh to Warsaw was as hassle free as you like and I arrived safe and well.
What a shame I couldn’t say the same for my suitcase. I hope it is happy wherever it decided to emigrate to.
But the real bane surrounding holidays that involve an airport are the security checks. They always were tedious but obviously since 9-11 things have been stepped up and, for some reason, the Good Lord decided that there are those among us who think I bear more than a passing resemblance to a Taliban activist.
At Prestwick I was pulled aside and quizzed because I had “an unusual name” but a UK passport.
I pointed out that my name really wasn’t that unusual and I actually had no input in choosing it or else my passport would have surely read Hamish ‘Ochayethenoo’ McTavish.
This was not viewed as being witty.
In Shetland the staff were flummoxed over my having two pairs of spectacles.
My explanation that I was as blind as a bat without my glasses so I always brought a back-up pair failed to convince anyone, and my spare specs were taken away for closer examination.
Then there’s the routine of partially undressing. Your boots, belt, jewellery, phone, coins and keys all go one way while, hoping your trousers don’t fall down, you’re directed another way to be groped repeatedly because your fly zip is setting off the alarm.
And security reached a new high in Gran Canaria when, after clearing the checks and being reunited with our plastic trays, we found some one had nicked my wife’s watch.
I can’t even think about the six hours in something that resembled a hangar in Iraklion when murder, cannibalism and the fragrance of urine from the one blocked loo was in the air.
So, unless I can find a helpful long-haul trawler skipper, it could be a staycation for me in 2014.