Fifteen minutes ago I was curious. What is a bocadillo? What does Iberian ham taste like? Now I feel like Obelix as a food critic (remember the exchange with Cleopatra’s taster?). Because the answer to the second question is, salty. As for the first, a bocadillo is evidently a sandwich in something like a small baguette. Not quite so crusty. Toasted and buttered, which is very welcome, but still a trifle rugged. Even when filled with Iberian (salty, OK?) ham and melted Brie.
Half past seven in the morning, dawn breaking through the glass walls, aeroplanes squatting on the tarmac like elongated chickens – any moment one of them will shake itself, fluff out its tail and emit a huge chuk-chuk-churr-oo-ook – the terminal warm and colourful like an indoor plaza. Smells of coffee and fresh bakes register somewhere in my lower brain, and my stomach lets out a low contemplative growl. Tell me, my good man, where is this lounge of which we hear so much?
A flood of totally incomprehensible Catalan follows, accompanied by seven finger waves, a shrug, a full arm point and two (consecutive) raised eyebrows. I stem the outpourings with a hurried ‘Gracias’ and back off warily. Have to find the damn thing myself. And I do. Which doesn’t help at all at all, because a vinegar-faced girl all but shoos me away for not having a privilege card. Excuse me, kiddo? I mean, what?! You expect all passengers through
Which is how I arrive at the Caffe di Fiore and the Iberian ham bocadillo. Table service only and they obviously have a height requirement for the waitresses. The biggest one could just about eyeball my second shirt button, and I’m not a tall man. Small neat packages they are, though. Black hair, black eyes and black uniforms filled just right. But they serve me a cappuccino gone cold and I have to ask for a fresh hot cuppa. Bad poodles! You shall not get your walkies unless you behave!
A Spanish couple and their two daughters take the table next to me. The husband is an ash blonde version of Cary Grant. The wife and daughters, sadly enough, all look like Sammy Davis Jr. So much for Brief Encounter 2008.
Four airports so far in the last seven days, two more to go.
Idea – I should take up ethnography. Sociology. Whatever. Do a PhD on inter-cultural and intra-cultural differences as evidenced in airport security and tourist information offices. Important and useful, innit? If I can swing funding for it I’m set for a few years – travel and write and get paid for it.
Except that it would mean too many weeks and months away from a Very Small Person. Who has just asked on the phone, ‘Papa, WHEN will you come home?’ On my way, on my way, give me a day or two!
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The perils of travel. Ah, a Boots right next to check-in. Enter Boots, buy water. Exit Boots, burly guy at international departures says ‘No water allowed, sir’; throw away water. (You have to go buy some more inside. Water is fine, bringing it across the barrier is not. Restrictive trade practices?).
Next, take out all your toiletries. Lucky lucky me, all they can seize is a nearly empty spray can of Old Spice Whitewater. Sucks to yer, mate, Oi’ll get meself a Bulgari in
I’m lucky, they let me keep my belt on.
Figure this out, then – how did they let me through with a box of matches in my jacket pocket and a lighter (a very serious lighter, this one shoots a flame two clear inches, it’s practising to be a flame-thrower when it grows up) in the fifth pocket of my jeans where it’s VISIBLE?
So I’m through security. Where do we go from here? A sign says “Assaults on staff”. Do we line up and take turns? Naw, it’s just another stoopid example of guvmint bumph, warning AGAINST such assaults. Next item, where can I find a hot-spot? All around, mate, but you have to pay. The hotel may have been a little cramped and pokey, but wi-fi was free (not that I had much time to use it). And of COURSE my credit card has to act up NOW, just because there’s no way I can pay cash.
What else can I do to while away an hour and a haff? Check the change in my pockets. Three pounds twenny-one. What can I get for ? Dunno, but it’s mid-day and I didn’t have much breakfast. Nor for that matter, much dinner last night. Hang on, there’s a couple of bank-notes in my wallet. Hi ho, Silver, we’re off to explore. I can come back later and fret about the chances of BA losing my luggage. Time out, gentlemen (which term legally includes ladies … )
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