Jun 21, 2014

Chez Maman

Mum was next to receive the unremitting pleasure of our company and thankfully Lyra was beginning to get over whatever her ailment was, although what with yet another bedroom and the refusal of the sun to obey Australian law and have the decency to go down at bedtime, the evening routine remained as fraught as ever.

In the morning of the first day I think it was I went to Stansted to retrieve the wife from whatever bizarre intellectual rituals she had been forced to perform in Berlin.

This time I arranged through sporadic communications with her to pick her up at the free set-down zone, a mere long bus-ride away from the airport with an hour of free parking provided you could prove you were a freemason and not of Eastern European extraction, or whatever hoops they decided to make you jump through to make the pick up of your loved ones as inconvenient as possible if you didn't want to pay through the nose for it.

I left it til the last minute this time to set off as I was pretty sure that arriving on time would be a grave mistake, and sure even just as I was about to embark upon my delayed journey with little Lyra in the back, Nicole phoned to say that she had been delayed on the tarmac because the aeroplane needed a lightbulb changing or an air-freshener topping up or something.

So having left it until the last minute I left it a little longer before setting off. Lyra was soon sound asleep in the back and snoozing beautifully up until the point at which I stopped at a rest area to relieve my agonisingly stretched bladder, at which point in the car, yes in the blazing (or as close as it gets to blazing) sunshine, whilst I was in the toilet peeing with my urethra's usual lackadaisical sense of urgency, she batted an eyelid, at which point I knew, just knew that a sequence of slow-motion disasters was about to unfold.

With that in mind, imagine if you will my complete lack of surprise when we parked at the so-called Free Pick Up Zone which was in fact just a section of probably the most distant car park from the terminal you could envision - I mean it might as well have been in bloody Epsom really - and waited for that one magical bus in an endlessly sporadic and unendingly infrequent sequence of unmagical buses - which never turned up.

Waited as the battery on the phone I had borrowed from my mother ran increasingly towards zero, waiting for that smidgeon of communication from She Who Must Be Waited Upon to indicate just a hint as to her whereabouts.

And as the buses sailed by and Lyra jumped up and down and supplies ran low and the sun warmed the tarmac and the bus shelter, that blessed fag-ash shelter with its little machine with the big button that said "Press for Assistance" got hotter and hotter, we got closer and closer to the free time limit and I was absolutely buggered if I was going to hand over a single centime to those bloody fly by nights (which might actually be an accurate term to describe airport operators with).

So lacking for anything else to do to pass the time, of course Lyra pressed the "Press for Assistance" button.

And then the call came through that Nicole was stuck in the Customs Queue from Hell and that even if she could find a bus to catch to the Free Pick Up Zone she'd be bloody yonks yet.

So Lyra and I, with a certain amount of protest, returned to the Hocus Focus and began an extended drive around the expanded Stansted Block, arranging with Nicole to pick her up from the spot where we dropped her off those many days ago, and about an hour later, after many a trip around many a roundabout and some soul-searching around toilets and supplies and the possibility, heaven forbid, of actually visiting a fast-food restaurant, we counterpointed the efficiency of drop-off with the absolute fiasco of pick-up and got the hell out of Dodge, Wifey recovered if not re-upholstered.

After the cross country trip (wrong turn this time) that had become my Standard Stansted Return Route, we pitched up at Mother's, all present and correct, moaning in I thought a very English way about transport in general, punctuality in particular, though strangely not about the weather which had been, of course, lovely.

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