I don’t know. I get rumbles that some people think a) I make this stuff up/embellish it, or b) I actively manipulate some of the (travel) situations I find myself in to create blog fodder.
I don’t. And I wouldn’t.
Take my trip to Milan. Starting from Gatwick departure lounge. A place that still gives me anxiety sweats and prickles. Passengers for Flight Number Schmumber stood obediently under the announcement board from the second the departure gate was expected. I think we all knew easyJet rules about getting to the boarding gate on time. But nothing happened. Half an hour after the flight should have taken off, still nothing. No one moved their eyes from the board. I kept fingering the boarding pass in my bag. Just checking. Then the board changed;
‘Flight Number Schmumber.
Gate 23. Gate closed’.
Pandemonium. Trolley cases burning rubber along moving walkways. The less speedy falling foul of the speedy. Shouts of “Oy!” “Wait!” that couldn’t possibly reach easyJet staff, 15 gates away. At the gate it got a bit ranty, even though the gate wasn’t really closed. The speedy and bog standard boarders were united. The easyJet staff blamed Gatwick, passengers blamed easyJet. Then Italy scored and a Mexican wave rippled through the queue.
Once on the plane things took an unusual turn. I had an aisle seat (essential if possible). A large Italian guy dressed in a black suit and white shirt pitched up and took the middle seat next to me. Glossy mac air and glossy hair. He was Glossy Man. He cranked up his laptop and started watching a movie. Jesus of Nazareth. Without headphones.
‘Ooh.. bit controversial’, I thought. ‘No headphones? In a public type space??’
The sound was low though and other people were chittering away, so I kind of ignored it.
But then Olivia Hussey was replaced by a long, blonde haired woman in what looked like a road movie. Arty, careless shots through a car windscreen, the open road, a broad panorama of desolate scenery. Within a minute, it was over and he clicked on the next film in his itunes libary. Just seconds of footage of the same woman. Doing stuff. Cycling through a forest, walking round a house, dancing on a beach, standing in a car park.
Eh, wha?? Home movies? On a plane? With sound? I tried not to peek but it was kind of compelling viewing. Maybe because of the seemingly careless ordinariness of the content. Maybe because I’m a sucker for reality TV. By clip 28 I was creating narratives or imaginaries. Filling in the gaps. She was a government operative missing in action since 2003. Off the Dalmation Coast… She was a lost love, rather than the woman who might be waiting for him at arrivals. He’d lost her through his uncompromising behaviours…
“Ciao!” she shouted at the camera at one point, waving. “Ciao! Arriverderci!” I nearly shouted back.
Then the clips started to appear more haunting or sinister. For no reason. I started to watch them differentIy.
“Ti amo!” I imagined him shouting to her, his voice thick with emotion.
“Leave me alone you glossy stalker you!” she shouted back. “And take your mac air with you. Glossy bastard.”
I was relieved when we landed and she was minimised and turned off. He sped through passport control. I was stuck (as always, in the queue that stopped moving). She might have been waiting in arrivals. I don’t know.
An hour later, still on my journey, I was in the city centre. Gridlocked in the back of a taxi, surrounded by celebrating Italian football fans. There were more Mexican waves. And an ironing board.