Inevitablei>Oh..hi – is this the Airport Lost Property Desk? Yes, well I seem to have lost my sense of humour? Oh…yesterday I think. Before I went to bed …but I always keep it with me so, I just wondered…..
February, 3.15 a.m. The moon is in the sky, God is presumably in His heaven. The planets are swanning happily about the mighty firmament, and I am Totally Out of the Comfort zone.
I am privileged. I have been blessed with a good seat on this world as it continues its long journey around the sun. Through my window I have a clear view of the slow rotation of stars, beneath my head a soft pillow, and within the terms and conditions I am able to remain here, short visits to the bathroom aside, for as long as my body clock wishes to do so.
It is a simple freedom, the sleep, the softness, the candour of the womb-like warmth, but it remains one which is fundamental to maintaining my own mental wellbeing, and curtailing any urges to boil my own head.
I live with a man, essentially a kindly man, who casts his trousers to the four winds the second he puts his foot in the front door and then spends hours lounging in his hideous man – pants. Doubly disturbing then to be woken by same individual, skipping around the house fully clothed at ten past three in the morning for Gods sake eating toast and marmalade , his face transformed like a kid who has just received a midnight visitation down the chimney from Santa Claus.
The White Stuff. The annual Alpine jolly. The poles, the carbon-fibre, the ink of infinite sky, the squeak of virgin snow and the incomparable frisson of the potential shattered pelvis.
“Ooooh” sighs an envious owl, somewhere in the dark wood outside my window. The Alps are a long way, but nothing like as far away from attractive as the prospect of getting up.
However, the Other has clearly hit a double black diamond of enthusiasm and is completely out of control, shrieking ” On the piste!!!” and even worse “Time to get up!! Time to get up!!!”
Had I the required level of consciousness I might marvel at how someone who usually spends at least five hours a day assuming the position of Jabba the Hutt on the sofa could undergo such a manic transformation. Pausing only to flick the bedroom light switch and floodlight the place like a football stadium, he repairs swiftly to the kitchen to throw cutlery into the drawer, stuff bread in the toaster and set off the smoke alarm.
Nobody should have to get up while they are still effectively asleep. We are creatures of the sun. Rising before the sun is unnatural. It perverts the natural order of things. Call me an ungrateful old cow but when an alarm starts bawling like the screaming spires of hell in the darkness , a primeval panic-bag bursts inside me and floods me with the certain knowledge that somebody has died, that the house is burning down, that a monstrous emergency is here, now, and what am I going to do to survive it? Get mighty cross, that’s what.Admittedly, there are in this world some people who like to be up and about shortly after the time when most humans go to bed. Some only do it because they are paid to, an entirely understandable approach. However in my experience the huge majority are either babies whose brains are not yet mature and properly sorted, or teenagers, who are mentally programmed to emerge for breakfast at 4 pm.
Parents valiantly endure all sorts of mortifying shenanigans in an effort to train their offspring to become normalised, so that they learn to go to bed at night and become fit to occupy the civilised world. Even the raving, crashing lunatic downstairs was once trained to transform himself roaring snorting warthog which he now becomes at around 11.15 every night.
Enter the Economy Airline, that unique industry which visits Alpine airports so rustic both in construction and location that they are surely used as actual cowsheds during the off-piste summer months. Even more tempting, it’s possible to leave the UK at the crack of dawn so the prospect of a whole days lift-queuing is a real possibility, and even before you unpack the gin. It’s enough to make me eat my thermal pants.
Downstairs, the relentless fork – crashing continues. A horrifyingly discordant version of “we’re all going on Winter Holiday ” ( Sorry, Sir Cliff, but it makes me want to throw myself right off one ) accompanied by the wailing of our elderly tomcat who clearly thinks morning has broken.
It’s like an avant garde event at the Proms, only worse.
I turn to my comatose self and recognising the inevitability of the whole hideous business murmur “shit” , by way of comfort. Rolling away from peace, quiet and gorgeous slumber I stagger to the bathroom, turn all the lights off and sit on the toilet in shocked silence
In the hallway below the night now resounds with the sound of Homo Not-very Sapiens playing luggage-Jenga with the tower of skis, boots and the wardrobe-sized suitcases necessary to transport ones existence somewhere else for seven whole days.
It always pays to be risk averse when packing, since you just never know what awaits when you arrive in your dream destination. For example, once I had to spend a complete fortnight in a cupboard in Austria without a kettle, just when a Nice Cup of Tea would have made it all bearable. In my experience, travelling with a passport but without a small washing line, proper tea-making stuff and at least half a bottle of gin is just asking for trouble.
Sitting on my porcelain throne I reflect on the contents of my hold baggage and mentally tick off the essentials which I have had the foresight to pack. It would be comforting if not for the yelling up the stairs, even banging on the bathroom door, actually banging on it because apparently We Need to Go .We Need to Go!
Why? Why do we need to go anywhere apart from the Lovely Land of Nod at this truly horrifying hour? This is one of the cruel mysteries of the universe : why, if the airport is a two hour drive away, and the plane does not leave until half past ten in the morning, WHY do we have to leave the house so early it is practically yesterday afternoon? Anything could happen, it seems. All manner of unthinkable delays could crop up. There could be an elephant running loose on the motorway. The man who opens the airport gates could be taking a nap. The airport could have relocated fifty miles further down the road as a result of a monstrous conspiracy….
I turn on the basin tap, and the ghost of my mother whispers down the water pipes. “Ungrateful girl…” she says..
OK, I give in…