Monday, March 16
Victoria Station, London, 13:15
This morning I showered and made sure I had all my luggage where it was supposed to be. I went to Marks and Spenser to buy some Windfall Chutney, which Irma and Naa love. I then went to Tesco to buy some English cheese to have with it, nd some Cadbury Creme Eggs for Naa. I got two boxes of twelve.
On the way from the airport I had argued with myself about which route would be easiest. This proved to be controversial today as well. I opted to change at Victoria, and then at Earls Court. When I got to Victoria I realised that I had time for a coffee, and that Luke might be at work. I phoned him and he was just leaving work for a coffee.
We met at the Caffe Nero just outside the station and spent time chatting. Luke suggested I should go to Green Park and then change directly to the Piccadilly line. So now I am walking through the station again with a new plan.
He will be right. It might be ten minutes slower (although maybe not), but it is a lot easier – and I get a seat on the train to Heathrow, which I would not have done if I had boarded it at Earls Court.
I will have a thought on the tube. Once I get to Terminal 3 I will notice that one of the Finnair checkin desks is mysteriously empty. I will go up and express my thought.
“Do these Windfall Chutneys count as liquid?” I will ask. “If they do I will put my case in the hold. Otherwise I will take it as hand luggage.”
Three people will examine my bottles with extraordinary and lengthy interest. “You’re alright mate. You can take those as hand luggage,” I will be told, so off I go.
My bag will be taken to one side at security. I will have to wait for twenty minutes while a woman has her huge handbag searched. It contains a dustbin full of stuff and every second item is obviously illegal. She has FIVE phones in her bag (this is true), a miniature whisky, a bottle of water, three hand grenades and a submachine gun. Okay I made the last two up, but she will prove to have endless face creams, toothpaste, a yogurt, and much much more.
The man in uniform will go through this slowly, one by one, completely expressionless while she giggles nervously. Eventually he will keep about half of her stuff and give her the rest to repack, still with no expression.
He will turn to me, scan the note on the suitcase and announce “you have two jars in here”. ” Chutney”, I will say. “Borderline illegal”, he will reply, smiling. “Its thick,” I will say. “You couldn’t possibly say it was liquid. And I specifically asked at the Finnair checkin”.
“Sorry, I will be keeping them”. And he will.
He will then go through my bag quickly, without disturbing anything, lifting out the two cheeses and saying, “Where you hoping to have pickle with these?”
I will smile and then burst out laughing; and so will he.
Irma will meet me from the airport, and Naa and Sunshine will meet me at home. Irma will point out that I should have already known that pickle is a dangerous substance, because that is why we didn’t bring any back from Warsaw.
We will watch the mysterious return of the mysteriously missing Putin on the ten o’clock news, and I will go to bed.