Lunch was sublime, Cape Town’s best; fresh tuna carpaccio followed by spaghetti vongole for Mrs P and swordfish pasta for me. Washed down with a couple of glasses of more than acceptable local rosé and then, a quick trip to the airport.
Lunch? I’d promised Mrs P as she only leaves for the UK (to join me there) next week.
So, airport, book in, customs, security, immigration all dealt with in moments and now I’m lolling dozily in the airline’s lounge.
Here we all are; me with a complimentary scotch, the uncomfortable German businessman, thick fingers jabbing his phone’s tiny keys. He will become an enemy before I leave, but more of that later.
A loud American that can’t access the wi-fi (nothing new there, this is South Africa after all).
An English woman, cell-phone-bellowing at endless friends and members of her family. The phone is redundant; her blare is loud enough without, her endless sentence-end laughs intrusive and wildly excessive.
Hoodie-clad Ms Two Tennis racquets stares vacantly, seeking who-knows-what.
Golf on a TV that no-one is watching. African talking heads on the other, also unwatched. Load shedding Stage 2. No-one cares any more – our venal and mendacious government has poked the economy in the eye and doesn’t have the first clue how to remedy a tumbling growth rate and 37% unemployment.
A raddled housewife, weary looking husband and two excited kids; coming or going? “I’m eating all this now so I won’t get hungry later on the aerwoplane” says male junior. Mum resorts to her phone to force hubby to attend to his brood. No chance. He’s got chips and a big fat drink.
“Daddy, how long?” they squawk endlessly.
“Gwmph.” Translation; “Fuck. I don’t know and care even less. Leave me alone for two minutes.”
“Daddy, I also need to go to the bathroom.” Daddy sighs, stands up, his phone falling from his lap where he was discretely checking e-mails. Everywhere, there’s a distinct air of resignation and we’re not on board yet.
“There’s two seats” says a clearly retired hubby, already weary of air travel. “There’s no table. There’s no table. There’s no table” replies clockwork wife, used to getting her own way. Hubby stands owlishly… seconds staring at her retreating back. I imagine (as I think he does), plunging a knife into her and putting an end to her anger-making, syllable emphasising hand flapping, as she complains. Stab! Now STFU!
They’re all on the plane and I am glad of (for once) a couple of decent movies and an early night. It’s that or people who insist on carrying on high decibel conversations, screeching children, or the whining passengers for whom nothing is ever right.
In nine hours or so, the plane will land in Dubai and scratchy-eyed, we will deplane, to sit and wait for connecting flights to all corners of the globe. It’s a great hub and spoke system if you can deal with it.
With your body clock at single digit a.m. hours, you need to have managed to keep a bit of the hooligan about you as you aged – not being afraid of pre-breakfast alcohol and social interaction at the bar are essential. If you can’t, then sleep is the only option in an uncomfortable seat miles from your gate (it’s usually the only one available), the thousand yard, broken sleep stare and just about every language, food aroma and offensive personal habit imaginable. Just try to blast through the porridge that is where your brain used to be, long enough before you doze off to remember to set the alarm on your phone – otherwise, you’ll slumber on serenely and miss the bloody plane.
My connecting flight leaves at sometime after 05:00, arriving in Glasgow at half past midday, after several hours flying time and an additional three hours of time difference. Then it’s find the car hire desk, get the (already booked) car and drive to Mallaig, in order to catch the last ferry of the day to Skye. Mr Google says it’ll take three and a half hours, I hope he’s right, or I’ll have wasted a ferry ticket and will have to drive an additional hundred miles to reach my hotel and catch up with Bob, my photographic companion for the next few days.
The German businessman? Minutes before leaving for the gate, I use “the facilities”, returning to find the last decent gulp of my most enjoyable drink is now awash with the detritus that collects on any lounge table; sweetie wrappers, a torn up voucher and a couple of tea spoons.
“Oh. Sorry. I thought you had left.”
“Sure you did, that’s why my luggage is still here and my computer is still on the table.”
What a bell end.
Tired. Simple word, complicated outcome. My photo buddy Bob and I have driven, walked, scrambled and clambered much of Skye this last few days. At six and a bit decades, I’ve done well, but am now done in and planning a celebratory early night It’s almost half past nine after all(!) – and still light outside.
It’s also driech – overcast, moody and drizzing. Typical Scotland but not great for stunning sunrises and sunsets. Still, we’ve had a chance to catch up, grumble about our various Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS) afflictions and on occasion, head to out harm some otherwise defenceless pixels.
Last evening (Sunday) saw us scrambling over the boulders at Elgol, to catch a spectacular sunset scene over the Cuilin mountains. It was well below 10C and way past ten before the sun obliged and set behind the mountain and much later still before we gave up for the night.
Then on the drive back to the hotel I managed to spot an interesting roadside scene, making us another half hour later arriving back at the hotel and a warming nippie sweetie (or two).
It’s been great. I now know my way around Skye a bit better thanks to Bob and also have a new avatar – my back again, I’m afraid.
Tomorrow, I leave for the beautifully named St John’s Town of Dalry and an overnight with Messrs Leeming and Patterson, photographers of the parish. Then it’s ever south- (and west-) wards to Pembrokeshire and a night with great mate, Steve at his home – Treffynnon – nestled in the hills high above Newport.
Thursday, it’s on to London and at sparrow’s on Friday morning, Heathrow to collect Mrs P.
Meanwhile, I decide to sit in the hotel lounge where the Internet reception is marginally better than the messenger with a forked stick I’ve had in my room. I’m sharing this quiet space with four Americans who, like me are waiting for the office to open to pay our bills, then grab some breakfast. My car is packed; I’m due at the Armadale ferry terminal at about 09:30 and en route, I’m planning to stop at a spot I noticed yesterday and phot for a few minutes.
A few minutes peace and quiet to close off a wonderful few days…
Grey haired Mrs American no.1 has other ideas and decides it would be a good time to fire up her iPad to listen to some voice mail from a clearly demented friend, or CNN (I don’t know, nor care which) at earsplitting volume.
In fact, it’s so loud that when I said “Could you please turn that down?” she couldn’t hear me and had to be elbowed in the ribs by her partner/husband. He’s obviously used to dealing with such blithe and arrogant rudeness.
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