Thirty Thousand Streets

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Journey Home

Back in England then.

I was awoken on Sunday by the insistent shriek of my mobile phone alarm clock. Awoken from a worrying dream where Jimmy Saville – armed with a sub-machine gun, and trademark cigar champed between his teeth - was rounding up the contestants of this years Big Brother in a courtyard for summary execution. I haven't even watched it this year, so I don't know what all that was about.

I'd had about three hours sleep, having been in a poky Barcelona soul bar until half three, dancing cheek to jowel with the beautifull people, drinking Estrella and smoking Spanish bonded Marlborough Lights. I felt shit.

Catching the packed shuttle bus I bought a single to the airport ("Ida, por favor") and stood hunched in the aisle feeling like a crayola sketch. The tune playing as I disembarked at the airport was "who can it be" by Men at Work.

The airport was a pain in the ass. Have you ever hear the philosophical paradox which says:

"A rock is thrown at a tree. If the distance between the thrower can be halved, then halved again, then halved again, and so on and so for infinity, how does the rock ever reach the tree?"

Barcelona's Terminal 1 felt like a lazy experiment to work this out*. Qeueue after qeueue after qeueue, which seemed to diminish in magnitude after the initial check in, but still make boarding the plane seem an ever more remote prospect. When one of the Easyjet check in desks abrubtly closed, there was even a qeueue to join a cue, as people from the now defunct qeueue tried to assimilate themselves into the next qeueue up. I thought there was going to be a riot.

The final qeueue was pehaps the most agonising; standing in line with the other grockles waiting to be spirited across the runway to the plane itself. In front of me a family was having a loud screechy argument in cockney accents, which was at least some consolation for missing the Eastenders omnibus.

The flight was only two hours, though this being Easyjet there wasn't even a free mint when my eardrums felt like they were going to implode on descent. A bacon butty cost 8 Euros, and I only had three left.

Stanstead felt like Barcelona airport in reverse, though this being England, the qeueues were better organised. I caught the shuttle train from Stanstead to Liverpool street. One stop in it halted and the driver announced over the tannoy that the train was terminating because there was no driver. That's when I was really sure I was back in England. The train we switched to was stopping at every station in Essex, so two clicks down everyone swarmed across to the adjacent platform to get back on the Stanstead Express, in the hope of arriving before nightfall.

From Liverpool Street I caught the 35 back to Camberwell, where it disgorged me on the pavement outside MacDonalds where that guy got stabbed the other year. Walking down the Church Street nothing seemed to have changed. Assorted waifs and strays drinking white cider, a guy in a Dolce and Gabbana shirt and Tupac Style bandana asking for change, the Thai Fusion shut for refurbishment again. As I fumbled for a key to my front door, a chinese guy stood there smiled at me. Thinking he knew the people from the takeaway downstairs I bid him hello, wheupon he produced a bag of DVDs for my perusal. Stumbling in I slammed the door after me. Whoever referred to the best bit about travelling being arriving home was surely referring to the relief one feels when it's all over.

No work this week, so I'm busying myself with personal projects. Was due to meet up with some old uni friends, but it didn't actually happen in the end. In a minute I'm going to put my phone on silent and go to bed, to sleep, perchance to dream, though hopefully not about gun wielding ex Top of The Pops presenters.

*It obviously does hit the tree though, as I'm writing this. And the rock always does hit the tree.


Periwinkle said...

yeah. easyjet sucks. i'm flying zoom to new york in a couple weeks, a new transatlantic budget airline, not getting my hopes too high for a special in-flight experience. take care, hope i see you round soon x

The Eyechild said...

The easiest thing about Easyjet is being able to check in with just your passport. The tricky bit is the rest of it. It should be called cheapJet really.

Have a good time in the states..x

Marcelas said...

Interesting article. I visited Barcelona once. It is amazing and magic city with it's own atmosphere and dominating of Gaudi's masterpieces. I liked that 5. Barcelona city has a very good infrastructure and nice service. There are so many interesting places.