The lost day… Helsinki way

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Up at 5am today to catch the 8am flight back to Gatwick after a wonderful weekend in Helsinki. My supersaver flight. £30. Such a blinking bargain. The airport bus was full of sleepyheads.

“Ah, I’ve found what I’ve been looking for…!” announced the driver after 20 minutes or so. “The airport. I stop at Terminal 1 first and then Terminal 2.”

The bus emptied out at Terminal 1. I waited on board wondering what all the fun was at 1.
“Er, excuse me,” said comedy driver getting back on board. “Where are you going?”
“Terminal 2”, I said.
“This is Terminal 2. You’d better get off or I’ll take you back to Helsinki…”
Blimey. Where was Terminal 1? The check in machine spat my booking reference out and told me to go to the help desk. I queued for ages with a few other people who had also fallen foul of the machine. When it was my turn, the woman looked completely perplexed and called for help.

“Is there a problem?” I asked.
“No, no. Not at all. The system is very slow, that’s all.”

The second woman called for a third woman as the queue behind me got longer. I turned round at one point and did a ‘Sorry guys, some sort of system error’ shrug to the grumpy looking passengers. They blanked me.

After a few more minutes and a lot of heated chatter and jabbing the screen, the third woman cracked the problem.

“This ticket is for yesterday” she said, triumphantly.
“OMG. No way. What date is it today..?” I yelped, looking around for a floating calendar. She flourished the ticket at me.
“Look.”

ticket

November. Not yesterday. Not even close.

The three women, clearly relieved their system wasn’t faulty, pointed me in the direction of the Norwegian Air hidden service for losers who can’t book flights properly, two floors below ground level. In the dark space I found two guys with Norwegian Air logos on their t-shirts playing Pokemon (don’t) Go. They politely told me to get lost. There is no standby on Norwegian Air.

Back above ground I had to suck it up and buy a single ticket home. Flying with SAS. Leaving nine hours later via Copenhagen. A five hour trip.

From Terminal 1.

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A brighter moment from yesterday: the Sibelius monument.

Postscript: It turns out the cheapest flight back was business class. Luckily an eagle eyed SAS guy noticed some marking on my boarding pass and told me. I’ve now been in the SAS lounge for 8 hours and 20 minutes now. With cheeky white wine on tap. Funny times.

Those husky dogs and Devon days

“Do you remember those husky dogs we saw running wild a while back, Rich? Loads of them… Where was that?”
“That holiday in Devon. Remember we were walking back from a pub lunch along some trail. The kids went back on the other track…”

This was on Sunday morning. In bed. I lay there in the half dark feeling like my breath had been stolen. Wrenched from me by being unexpectedly pitched into a memory I hadn’t meant to seek out. That long ago? Really?

I remembered the rain, the fresh air, the fun, the boredom, the lack of sun. I remembered us all just being. Chittering, bickering, bantering and loving. Hanging out. Chunky Stan took to swimming in the sea having been resolutely opposed to getting wet until then. I told Rosie off for using my umbrella to collect sea water for a sandcastle she built with Tom in between showers. We had fish and chips in Appledore and chuckled a few years later when we watched a documentary about The Jacksons house hunting there. And we squeezed into the little living room to watch the Olympics when it was simply too wet to go out.

Lying there I felt intense grief. I call it grief but that’s just a label. A word. I felt an intense agony, a feeling impossible to describe. There are no words. I’d forgotten about that pub lunch. About the walk back when we watched the kids running along, in the distance. How they made sure LB kept up. And the huskies that randomly overtook us. Making a bolt for freedom.

I missed LB so much I wondered how I would ever get up again.

I think about him constantly, in a sort of ‘careful’ or maybe self managed way. I have a whole set of (almost) distractions and strategies to make living bearable. This was unguarded thinking. Laying bare the reality of living after the death of a cub. One who died in the careless and relentlessly brutal hands of the state.

Being thrown momentarily back into that space made me realise how I’ve got used to living with pain over the last two and a half years. A pain made so much worse by the actions of Sloven, Oxfordshire County Council and now NHS England. The health, social care, commissioning triumvirate. Taking it in turns to kick the boot in. There’s still no publication date for the Mazars death review. Delay, after delay, after delay. Any talk of candour or transparency, of listening to families, of mortality review functions, of a shiny new independent (NHS) investigative body just makes me want to weep. And rage.

‘Stop talking shit,’ my brain snarls. ‘Just stop making it so much worse.’

I had an email from the police this afternoon. An email that was thoughtful, straightforward and kind. No messing, no prevarication. Just human.

Like those Devon days.

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A commotion in the ocean

Sticking my toe back in the holiday thread. So many memories. Sigh.

Richy Rich regularly took a selection of the kids camping.  One time he had three of ’em, aged 6, 4 and 1.5.  On the Sunday, he took them to the beach at Highcliffe, near Bournemouth. They walked down the cliff path to the beach, dumped their stuff and ran into the sea. Instantly a big wave knocked Richy’s glasses off and swept them away.

Now Richy is like Vincent van Gopher without his glasses.  He can’t see squit-diddly.  This is not a good situation to be in with teeny tiny kids in the sea.

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The H word.

Holidays. Shudder. Even the word makes me feel queasy.  Going on holiday was like taking a bunch of pups off to some new park, full of smells, the hint of the odd rabbit and plenty of trees to piss against.

Plus, of course, the real hounds who delivered their own brand of disruption effectively most trips.  (Little aside here to mention the infamous time that Stan decided to have a wee on Petey’s designer sweatshirt on the beach in Pembrokeshire. Sigh).

So a gentle, informative, visual start to this new thread…

1. Find space.

 

That’s it.