Getting old(er)

mobility-scooterSo, I was in the pub happily cradling my drink unaware that the conversation was about to take a turn for the worse. Standing in a group of some I knew better than others, one of the fellows- lets call him ‘Brad’- for whatever reason leans across and asks of me quite innocently:

‘So how old are you?’

With a wry smile I replied..

‘Forty’ then immediately added ‘just’.

You see what happened there? Coated in shame the word just slipped out. It is true I passed that milestone only recently (Christ I’m doing it again!) but it’s only later that I reflected on the fact that I had actually been saying that for some time. Like adding ‘just’ took ten years off my age and that ‘Brad’, would reply ‘Oh just forty, that’s alright then, I don’t need to shout for you to hear just yet granddad.’

But then it occurred to me that when it comes to age we are never proud of it. The only thing that changes is our position on the matter and that at some point between, I would say twenty-five and thirty, a transition happens and you stop saying ‘I’m nearly…’ and start saying ‘I’ve just turned…’

Nothing highlights age like technology. Some people manage to keep up with its swift progression. I however am not one of them. A perfect illustration of this is in mobile phone shops. On one occasion, when asked by an assistant why I had picked up a particular model of handset, my reply ‘Because it’s shiny’ had the shop staff circling me in the manner of tiger sharks going around the last survivor of the USS Indianapolis. They couldn’t believe their luck. I’m amazed I didn’t walk out of there clutching a brick. In any case, seizing the opportunity to sell me any old rubbish, the staff did quite the opposite and had me walking out with a mobile phone that required a degree in molecular physics to understand the instruction book.

So why didn’t I confess to not understanding how to use the phone and demand a simpler one? Well I’m a man and I’m just not programmed to admit that I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. Hence a Mobile phone salesman will usually start his pitch to me like this-

‘So this phone has a five point two mega pixel resolution and two gig of memory backed up with a super wombat driven hard drive with extra olive oil ram. All clear so far?’

‘Yes.’ (No)

‘To download pictures, simply connect to your PC, press options, settings, create folder, open up ‘my pictures’, and drag into your drop box. Give it a file name like ‘I’m an IT moron’, and press save then right click your mouse, select delete all. Make sure you convert all you’re pictures to a low resolution JPEG or high resolution clothes peg first- obviously.’

‘Obviously.’ (What’s a drop box?)

‘This phone is compatible with Mac book, Mac pro, Mac air, MacDougal and MacDonald’s. If you’ve got Windows five, you’ll need to upgrade to Windows six unless you have the 2008 version in which case you’ll need to burn your computer and start all over again with something that matches your level of technological ignorance- like an abacus.’

‘Sure.’

‘Are you familiar with the cloud?’

‘Of course.’ (What’s the weather got to do with it?)

My wife, bless her is quite the opposite and plays a computer keyboard like Liberace played the piano. We all too frequently have conversations that go like this-

Me- ‘The computers broken.’

Wife- ‘No it’s not.’

Me- ‘It’s just wiped out everything I’ve just been typing.’

Wife- ‘No it hasn’t.’

Me- ‘This is ridiculous. This is outrageous. I’m going to write and complain. Just as soon as I can get the computer to work. This is people’s lives they’re messing with. Don’t they unders-’

Wife- ‘Are you on the internet?’

Me- ‘Yes.’

Wife- ‘Close it down.’

Me- ‘What the hell will that do? I- Oh. It’s come back up. It was hiding behind the Internet.’

Wife- ‘Yes it was.’

Me- ‘I’m an idiot.’

Wife- ‘Yes you are.’

Of course everything is done on the Internet now and as a result the biggest bain of my life is passwords and their close cousin, usernames. I have, at last estimate, approximately twenty different passwords. I’m convinced that my computer has a worse memory than me because in spite of the fact that I whenever I log into a website, I tick that little box that says ‘remember me’, without fail by the time I return it will have forgotten me.

Often it will give me a chance to have my password sent to my e-mail address. Terrific, but instead of reminding me it asks me to change it. But if I change it to something obvious and that I might remember, like my hometown, it scolds me for being an unimaginative nitwit and risking having my identity stolen (a welcome possibility during these moments). So I change it to something less obvious and equally less memorable and because we are advised not to write anything down something that I will promptly forget.

So I try again. This time I forget my username. The website decides to ask me some highly confidential questions to verify who I am:

What is your hometown?

So eventually after completing the worlds shittest pub quiz on my personal life it agrees to send my username to my e-mail address.

I try again and… success!

Now I have access to the site I decide I want to purchase something. I enter my bank account details. The website has a think about it and decides I’m still not to be trusted and so my bank asks me to enter my authorising bank code.

I smash my head off the wall and decide to ring the bank for my bank code.  They ask for one of my direct debits as proof of who I am. My direct debits are set up so I don’t have to remember who to pay and how much every month. I confess I’m not sure. They advise me to use my online banking to find out what they are.

After I’ve finished crying I get in the car and drive to the shops to purchase what I want.

Apparently there is an app that allows you to store all your passwords but almost certainly it would require a password and equally as certain I would forget it. I often wonder just how much longer I’ll be haunted by this security nightmare. Knowing my luck when my time on earth is at an end I’ll arrive at the pearly gates only to be met by St Peter who’ll request I enter my password and username into a consol before being admitted.

And on that sombre note, I’ll sign off. I apologise this blog was a bit late and I hope to have next weeks done on time. Unless of course I forget my computers password. In which case I’ll be too busy trying to remember my home town, my first car, my mothers maiden name or any other indiscriminate facts I and pretty much any of my friends would know..

Tipping and other social etiquette

Hand holding coins

So, we received a wedding invite recently and since it arrived from down under, it’s one I’m very much looking forward to attending. But this would be a pretty redundant column if I didn’t have something to constructively criticise (bitch) about, so strap yourself in.

Let me state for the record that in spite of my Yorkshire heritage I am not tight fisted (though I can at least guarantee one laugh from this blog when my dear wife and possibly others who know me, read that last line) but regardless of, on occasions, a slight disinclination for my fingertips to reach the bottom of my pockets, my gripe is not a financial one. What caught my attention is the line I have seen on a number of wedding invites- including my own- that state:

‘We value your presence more than your presents but if you’d like to contribute a little something to our special day, we’ve included a gift registry that would quite frankly make Bill Gates accountant reach for oxygen.’

Okay, I might have made that last bit up but you get the gist. I just love that; the idea that there’s no pressure not to turn up empty handed. Now don’t get me wrong my wife is a loving, patient (my turn to laugh) person but if our own wedding invite had actually been written without the flowery overtones as stated above she would have had it say something like:

‘We value your presence but since this ‘special day’ is costing more than it cost NASA to send the first space shuttle into orbit (simply because every time we mention the word wedding before booking the- venue/flowers/pianist who, incidentally, will piss off before the first glass of champagne is poured) note, if you do turn up empty handed expect to be hunted down by packs of rabid dogs for the rest of your life, I will find you!’

Kind of takes the edge off the whole special day thing doesn’t it.

But it’s not the only time we’re emotionally blackmailed into giving more than we should. Restaurants are a minefield of social etiquette. Specifically I’m talking about tipping. Now I can talk with some authority, as I spent my pimply teenage years in some backwater restaurant serving unsuspecting customers ‘home made’ cottage pie straight from Tesco’s. But I’m sorry unless you’re dining in downtown Calcutta is there really a need to give a tip anymore? Again I have no problem with the cost of the meal as a whole (and let the record show I have had open wallet surgery at Gordon Ramsey’s Hospital Road- I kept the receipt in case there comes a day when paramedics need something to shock start my heart) but if it’s unlikely the staff get it anyway why not incorporate it into the cost of the meal and raise their wages accordingly.

In this day and age of course most people pay by card allowing restaurants to enforce a little game called visa debit tipping. At some point you will be handed the card machine to put in your pin number. But it will also ask whether or not you wish to add a gratuity. The waiter, who only seconds ago appeared absorbed by something on the wall, is now staring flintily eyed at you and is so close to your shoulder you can feel his breath.  No matter that the meal may have tasted like baked leather, unless you have nerves of steel you are going to press ‘yes’. But the ordeal is not over and now you are about to reveal your crippling cheapness. It asks how much you wish to add. Suddenly you wish for the old days when everybody paid in cash and you could get to the exit before the waiter returned to find that you have left him twenty five pence and a button on a plate. Now however you must allow them to read what exactly you think they’re worth when you hand the machine back. Whatever you’ve put on, their expression will remain deadpan, but the difference is evident when they either bring you your coat and wish you a pleasant evening or smack the door into your kidneys as you leave and have you pick your coat up from the pavement.

An extension of this and no less subtle is to be found at certain fancy bars. I find this adding insult to injury because for ‘fancy’ read ‘one round of drinks is going to cost more than you make in a week pal’. If this wasn’t bad enough you will be handed your change, if any, on a little silver plate. Bar staff seem to be under the illusion that the fact your money is being presented to you in such a way will guilt you into leaving it for them to pocket. Again, this becomes a war of attrition whereby they pretend to become absorbed washing glasses only inches from the plate, ready to snatch it away as soon as you leave. If, by a Dynamo inspired slight of hand you take it, don’t expect to be served any time soon when it comes to getting the next round in.

In spite of the fact that it’s only recently I’ve been exposed to this level of drinking sophistication, my younger years were no better. Most of us in less reputable nightclubs will at some point have come across ‘toilet trogs’. Visiting the toilet is clearly unavoidable in this type of environment and it is during these alcohol driven visits you are forced to engage in a sort of subterranean haggle to take a piss. Going in is fine, but it awakens the golem strategically positioned near to the exit, who will demand payment for handing you a paper towel or pumping the soap dispenser as you leave. In some clubs he (or she so I’m led to believe on the other side- my research only go’s so far) will try to entice you with a spritz of cologne that blends beautifully with the stale smell of urinal cakes and vomit. I have had to employ Mission Impossible style diversions in order to escape these people.

But for sheer bambi’esque, doe eyed, guilt enforced tipping my final word goes to cab drivers. I’ve no problem with what they charge but tipping, it appears to me, is given either for an outstanding service or to compensate for a woefully underpaid job. The twelve pounds I give my cab driver for the ten minutes he takes to convey me four miles from train station to home appears to fall into neither. And yet on the odd occasion I’ve not given him more than the agreed price (and in spite of my whinge, I tip quite frequently) I am looked at as if I’ve just informed him I wish to take a dump on the back seat. I’ve now become so paranoid about this that if we are being picked up at the airport, I refuse to let the driver load our suitcases into the boot for fear of being subjected to a heart rending- ‘Blimey that case is heavy, however will I feed little Timmy when I can barely reach the baked beans and gruel on the top shelf, deary deary me.’ This frequently results in an unseemly ‘It’s a knockout’ style competition between the driver and I as to who can load the most suitcases quickest. My wife alas, simply shakes her head and sits in the car.

And on that note I feel it’s time to sign off. I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s whinge. If you’d like to leave a tip, feel free, but not that one about ‘don’t eat yellow snow’. I’ve heard it before.

 

That social website

Facebook

So the missus and I were on holiday recently. Picture the scene: an idyllic tropical paradise in Sri Lanka. In a rare bout of rash expenditure that had my wallet begging for mercy, it was decided (and by that I mean my wife decided) that we splash out on a luxury hotel for our last few days away. Situated mere feet from the beach, the waves crashed over the rocks, sending moonlit forks of foamy water high into the air where they were dissolved into a fine mist. The sky was clear and the stars shone as tiny pinpricks of light. My excellent meal was happily digesting and in the distance the sea mixed with the sky in an inky blackness that made it impossible to tell where one ended and the other began. Across the table my wife looked more beautiful than ever. We held hands, our minds entwined as one on such a perfect evening. It required the most perfect of feelings to be expressed and as my wife gently unclasped her hand from mine and leaned in to me, I anticipated that she felt the same and was about to convey it. She smiled and uttered those words all of us utter to a loved one sooner or later. She said…

‘Let’s check us in on Facebook.’

Now I realise I’m on dodgy ground whinging about an international institution (Facebook I mean not marriage- equally as dodgy but that comes later) But come on! Don’t get me wrong I’m a user myself but I have some serious reservations as to its appropriate use. For a start, the most important thing to remember is that men and women use it for different things. Women use it to stay in touch, to update their friends and to share and support each other. Men use it to call their mates a dickhead. Think I’m wrong?

Lets consider either a man or a woman posting a picture of something innocuous- say a dog looking happily up at the camera. The woman will instantly receive validation of such a cute picture from her friends. ‘So cute’- smiley face. Or ‘I want one’. Or ‘he’s booooootiful’.

Fair enough, I’m sure he is. Unfortunately any man stupid enough to post something quite so innocent I guarantee will receive the first comment from his friends as…

‘Did you shag it?’

Facebook is simply a continuation of pub etiquette. Men don’t generally greet friends at the bar with a ‘hello’ so often as an ‘A’wight wanker!’  It’s just not in our DNA to be nice to one another, at least not overtly. Any picture put on Facebook will have our male ‘friends’ clambering to outdo each other posting the most offensive comment. If it’s witty that’s a bonus but we’re never not going to let that get in the way of a decent roasting.

There are caveats. Men posting pictures of themselves with their children will have friends hovering over the ‘post’ button cursing the fact that such a witty but blatantly inappropriate comment will never be heard. But usually common sense prevails. Not because we’re worried about offending our friend but because we’re worried about offending the wife of said friend, which in turn will put you in the dog house with your other half. Let us not forget Facebook is a deeply incestuous community. Whatever you put will always make its way to someone you didn’t want it to.

But even joining Facebook is fraught with danger. For a start you don’t have to comment on peoples pictures to run the risk of offending someone. It all begins with the dreaded ‘friend request’. Again the rules are different for men and women. If you’re a woman, receiving a request from anyone will immediately be balanced with how well you know that person, if they can be trusted to know your personal details, or if they might be a friend of a friend that somehow will benefit you in the gossip stakes or more importantly the potential to bitch smugly about how fat they look in their wedding dress/bikini/profile picture.

On the other hand, men are actually slightly more selective and will only accept those who they have at least a passing acquaintance with. Unless of course they’ve got big tits and in that case all friends requested are accepted under the lightest association. A refusal on either part however is risky because a Friend ‘decline’ has become one of the biggest slaps in the face of the modern age. Clearly you have nothing to gain from being friends with some person you worked with ten years ago, and is a bit odd, and you always suspected was a closet cross dresser But if there’s even a chance you may see them at work again, having delivered a Facebook fuck off tablet, you must live in fear of that awkward moment. If this happens then the default position is to blame technology-

You’re on Facebook? I had no idea. You know you’re the third person whose said they’ve contacted me- I think I’m having problems with my page. Anyway how are you? Long time no see’.

This situation is magnified of course when your number of friends exceeds something beyond the number of atoms in the universe and you realise you have to have a Facebook cull. Following that your only option is to leave the country.

The other side of the coin is making a request yourself. Even though you’ve rejected many people who’ve had the temerity to consider you a friend, when you realise others have been equally blunt to you it’s hard not to take it personally. ‘Snooty cow/wanker’ you think to yourself and immediately try to access their photos anyway in the hope of finding one so unflattering as to confirm your low opinion of them.

A personal bugbear of mine is being invited to play games or join groups. Let me state for the record I have no interest in playing Jellybelly farm or whatever ridiculous name it’s called but I appreciate each to their own. For the life of me however I don’t understand why it is necessary to update others when you play it.

‘Lisa just bought two magic dragons that fart lemon tasting diamonds’ or ‘Ronald suggests you like boyband The Diesel shifters’. To which I would like to make my own suggestion to Ronald. A more sinister posting is one that states to those who read but don’t re-post will have bad luck for the rest of the year. Facebook was bad enough without turning it into the technological equivalent of gypsies trying to sell you lucky heather. At least some satisfaction can be derived from those who try to emotionally blackmail their friends by stating ninety percent won’t care enough to re-post some deeply personal cause. I’ve no problem with using Facebook to further worthwhile causes but when there are those who threaten to de-friend you because you don’t feel the same, I only wish they’d carry out their threat so I have less to do during my cull.

And on that note, I notice reading through what I’ve just written that my wife’s habit of updating what we’re up to isn’t the worst thing she could be doing on Facebook. Apart from being awfully considerate enough to update any potential burglars that it’s open season at our house whilst we’re away, on reflection I guess it can’t do any harm.

Now please re-post this blog or may a thousand diamond farting dragons visit upon you.

Cry Wolf

BBQSo, for a tantalisingly brief spell last week, the clouds parted, the sun shined and in a scene reminiscent of that from ‘Twenty Eight Days Later’, hordes of barbecue deprived Brits converged as one, on every charcoal selling garage or DIY shop they could find. Never mind the mercury barely reached beyond nineteen degrees, that a chill wind made it feel considerably less. England expects, so Nelson said, though in this case I would suggest, England expects showers to follow so best cremate those burgers now whilst we have a chance.

I’m not complaining (yet), I was one of them and like many others took the opportunity to sit outside reinforcing layer upon layer of insulation around my shivering body as the evening wore on whilst pretending to enjoy a rare bout of alfresco dining. Actually I would have enjoyed it a lot more had it not been for the fact that our tranquillity was suddenly broken by the shrill, painfully annoying not to mention utterly pointless onset of the next door neighbours burglar alarm. I say pointless because- and I’d love you to be honest here- do you ever hear a burglar alarm, particularly in the middle of the day and think ‘What ho, there’s skulduggery a foot. Fetch my whip, my crucifix, and my lifetime membership to the neighbourhood watch scheme. It’s time to be a hero’?

No? Or do you think, ‘Jesus that’s the third time this year that’s gone off; the footballs on, I’ve just got the baby/wife/mother in law off to sleep why in Christ’s name can’t he get it fixed? I hope the old coot is getting robbed this time. It’ll teach him a lesson.’ Well?

Yeah I know, don’t be ashamed. The truth is there are actually quite a few things that when invented gained our admiration so inexplicably that we could never have imagined losing all respect for them. Unfortunately, familiarity has bread contempt or rather encouraged us to dismiss what they are telling us. Take the burglar alarms close cousin, the car alarm. It is true that they are a great deal more reliable than once they were. Ten years ago a farting fly would have had the average Ford Mondeo erupting in a paroxysm of bells, whistles and laughably robotic verbal’s ‘Warning this vehicle is alarmed!’ To which I say ‘Warning I don’t give a shit’. Unfortunately for more moderate vehicle security systems that were yet to follow the previous models had cried wolf once too often. Our reaction would be forever tainted and nothing short of the sight of a man wearing a black eye mask, carrying a bag of ‘swag’ and pushing a coat hanger down the crack of the door was ever going to rekindle our interest. And whilst we’re on vehicles can anybody please tell me why certain manufacturers have taken to instigating a nanny state of driving? My dear wife’s car, and I’m sure it’s not the only one, has the annoying habit of beeping loudly at me should I have had the temerity to have driven forward two feet without putting on my seatbelt. Yes I know there are terminally dull, real ale drinking bores who are about to tell me that wearing a seatbelt is non-negotiable, but do we really need cars that nag us- I’m married for Christ’s sake. What next? Will it tell me off for not emptying the bins or refuse to disengage the hand brake because I used the best towel to wipe toothpaste off my face that morning? Anyway I digress-

Motorway speed restrictions are also frequently implicated in the cry wolf syndrome. Now don’t get me wrong, road safety is incredibly important and highway or police instruction should always be adhered to. But I’ve lost count of the number of times a temporary and quite frankly, ludicrously low speed limit for several miles has come and gone with no apparent reason. Oh I know that by the time I’ve got to the cause it’s quite possible it’s been cleared up, but I have on more than one occasion, come back the other way half an hour later to find it still implemented, still, for no apparent reason. It does feel at times like our typically British need to follow all the rules is sometimes being taken advantage of.

But it’s not all about technology. I find it worrying how in today’s age, more and more things are heard but not listened to because they have sunk further and further into what is every day background noise. In London the sound of a woman screaming in the night will only occasionally precipitate a call to the Police. We’ve become so attuned to such a noise being everyday, or at least being misinterpreted, that like many things that probably should be listened to they are not.

And on that note I see the sun is shining, the barbecue (Barby- sic Australian) is warming up nicely and I’ve a fresh pair of earplugs ready and waiting. If you need me I’ll be cremating burgers.

A Debut Whinge

airportsSo I married an Australian. I didn’t plan to but you can’t fight these things and apart from a propensity to turn any word with the letter ‘I’ in it into an ‘O’ (can you turn the loyt out honey?) I must say she’s been a rather sporting addition to my life. Anyway apparently I complain about things far too much and so she suggested, possibly a little unkindly, that I bother some others with my incessant bleating. Well misery loves company so here is the first of a few short (ish) ramblings each week about some things that some of you might nod your head in familiarity at. For the rest of you I apologise but why should my wife be the only one to suffer? Let’s start with Airports-

I think they’re terrific which is hardly in keeping with the spirit of this blog but you see I was relatively late to the whole travel thing. Yes I appreciate some of you were born clutching a passport (being antipodean my wife’s first act as she entered this world was probably to offer it to the midwife as proof of identity) but for those of us born into more modest means an Aeroplane was something whose sleek confines I didn’t experience until the advanced age of twenty four. The up side is that for me flying is still a relative novelty and that even now I step onto the plane with a feeling of privilege and ‘elan- or at least I do until I’m given my meal. But airline food is not my target, lets face facts- too easy; a bit like kicking a bag of kittens (tastes pretty similar too).

No, todays topic is security. Now for obvious reasons I’m all for it but I do feel a little more could be done to make the process more efficient. I haven’t had an experience yet that’s not had me craning my neck wondering if at any point I’m going to see Richard Hammond commentating on my progress through the Airport in the vein of some painfully misguided contestant in Total Wipout.

Firstly there’s the luggage drop. Fraught with tension because you know that the suitcase you so carefully stood on the scales with that morning will have inexplicably gained at least three pounds by the time you plonk it on the conveyor belt. I’m at a loss as to how the gravity in airports, particularly around the check in desk, seems to act so much more vociferously around your luggage than it did at home but there you go. Oh and whilst we’re on that point never argue with the staff over any discrepancy in weight or joke with them as to why. A pithy suggestion of ‘water retention?’ doesn’t go down well.  Anyway once you’ve negotiated the scolding from the check in clerk about how your bag will no doubt handicap a baggage handler and orphan his children you move onto the security check at departures. Once somebody from customs has pretended to check your passport by staring flintily eyed at you whilst barely glancing at your picture, you are presented, rather gamely, with a scene from the crystal maze.

The challenge- find your way by the quickest possible means to the x-ray machines at the other side- is an engaging quest; but be warned the guardians of the maze are bound to block and redirect your passage by roping off your route just as you think you’re getting somewhere. Never mind either if there is no one else there, you are still forced to walk from left to right, making painfully slow progress toward your destination as if the only participant in the worlds shittest conga.

Anyway I digress. Just to make it even more challenging, at some point you’re going to have to take your shoes and, if wearing one, belt off. This will inevitably happen at the precise moment another x-ray station is opened or the guardian of the maze allows approximately three hundred people through a new gap ahead of you. Reluctant to become the pariah of the Airport responsible for holding everybody up, and the star of some reality program entitled Airline doofus’s, you are forced to immediately hop along wearing one shoe, holding your jeans up and in the manner of some dispossessed refugee, clutching the rest of your meager belongings in an ill assorted jumble in front of you. When you reach the front you are presented with what can only be described as a prison canteen tray. Ribbed along the surface (for whose pleasure I have no idea) it will be laughingly too small for everything you planned to take on board. The padded jacket you thought would be necessary, just in case you have to embark on that arduously long journey from terminal to plane in the open air, hangs over the side like some lop sided meringue, and for those men who find a wallet one step too organised, spare change will, in a variety of currencies, suddenly mix into a completely unusable combination that will have shop assistants sighing as they wait for you to sort your life out at the till, for weeks to come. Then as you wave your belongings goodbye you must pass through the portal of truth. Never mind that you have, as far as you are aware, diligently removed any metal item you can possibly imagine from your possession. You know with a crushing inevitability that somewhere on your person is the smallest fleck of metallic substance just waiting to activate the arch’s screaming alarms and send you back through to whence you came, smothered in shame. But finally you’re through and it’s all worth it.

It’s over, except you must repeat the process in reverse only now it’s under a time limit. As you wait for your tray to reappear, you limber up. You’ll have only seconds to gather your belongings and replace your clothing before the next tray smashes yours into oblivion. You eye the competition. So far there’s no one who can withstand a crushing elbow strike should anyone try to claim your prime position (it’s a technique you’ve perfected over the years when waiting for your luggage at the baggage carousel as well) and you smile internally. Then more people are fed through the arch and you begin to sweat. In spite of the fact your trays went through in order they appear to have spontaneously rearranged themselves whilst passing through their subterranean tunnel, and yours is now no longer a part of time or space. More trays arrive until you are forced to peer suspiciously at the X-ray supervisor in case he has been replaced by the magician Dynamo, willfully engaged in a case of hand luggage misdirection. Eventually it appears and quickly you prioritise what needs to be taken first. Your partner is doing the same and between you, you salvage as much as you can. Monopolising your spot you determinedly defend what is yours until finally the weight of numbers is too much. ‘Leave it’ your partner cries. ‘Never!’ you reply and make a pathetic grab for the last discarded euro’s at the bottom of the tray before its’ whisked away to tray heaven.

In spite of this I truly enjoy going to the Airport. My wife thinks I’m beyond help and treats the whole process as contemptuously as she does when commuting to work. I enjoy the fact that for a few blissful hours, depending on your flight time you are categorically unavailable to the rest of the world. Some airlines, incredibly, offer (at a cost) wifi on their flights now and I think that’s a shame as in such a modern world there are increasingly few times when you are not at the demand of others via technology. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time however before that becomes a thing of the past. At least then, however I’ll have something else to whinge about but that, alas, is another blog.