Monday, 27 February 2012

No chocolate aeroplane required

So Baldy Bain, as it turns out, did go to Spain.

My ingrained post-Presbyterian work ethic - you're off on the sick, you're not supposed to be enjoying yourself - rebelled a little, but after being signed off for a further three weeks for radiation recovery I decided to take my own advice and go on holiday.

So as I write this, Clare and I are sunning ourselves in the gentle low-to-mid 20s of Gran Canaria. It's very nice, thanks.

I usually regard hotels as places to sleep, not really to be revisited between breakfast and midnight, but since I'm weirdly gubbed at odd times of the day and have to break off from whatever I'm doing to go and sleep, Clare insisted on going for a cut above my norm, a hotel with a pool with sunloungers and a room with a balcony. Which was nice of her, I thought, as I paid for it.

Still, it is very pleasant. The journey here, not so much.

We were told at check-in that we were facing nearly four hours of a delay. We were early, too, having for once actually more-or-less taken the advice to check in two hours in advance. This isn't, for me at least, necessarily a problem. For someone who is otherwise fairly easily bored, I'm quite good at dealing with Airport Time, that weird twist in the fourth dimension that only occurs in transport hubs, in which minutes stretch to hours and yet hours truncate to seconds, sometimes simultaneously. I have a stoic mode which allows me to wander through this with a certain sense of calm, as others are twitching and pacing around me.

Except when those others are whistlers.

We went for something to eat, and stretched that out for two courses, drinks and a newspaper. Fortunately, for a Saturday, it was quiet, so we weren't chased out of the table. But I couldn't settle. The waiter, you see, was a whistler. 

So we wandered to the place where our gate would eventually open and settled onto those weirdly hard and flat seats Glasgow Airport has had installed for its passengers' incremental discomfort. There was a whistler there, too. Possibly more than one, or maybe he was just moving about a lot. Perhaps he was a Wandering Whistler, some kind of semi-mystical being doomed for some forgotten Biblical-age slight to wander the earth for eternity, irritating people. I don't know. I couldn't get a fix on him/them. But he/they were there. Just within earshot.

Apparently you can't report men whistling in airports as terror suspects. I personally think that if tweeting a joke about blowing up a tiny airport in the Midlands can get you remanded in custody, then whistling around the departure gates of a hub the size of Glasgow International should be a one-way ticket to Gitmo. But it seems the law is not behind me on this one.

What is it with whistlers? I can only assume they realise they're not entertaining those around them, so there must be another reason for this social aberration. Possibly they think they're sending out a message that says "I'm a cheery, chirpy chap", although, frankly, it just reads as "bastard". More likely, it's just a shrill, repeated, "Look at me! Look at me!" with a desperate subtext of "I don't care if you think I'm an arse, just look at me! LOOK AT ME!"

I don't know. I merely think there's scope for a new type of airport animal, here. In the same way dogs are used to sniff out drugs and explosives, I'm suggesting using something with a few more legs to deal with whistlers. A crack team of funnel-web spiders could, I'm sure, be trained to pick up on the vibrations of the passing whistler and drop onto him from the ceiling. The downside to this is that even with the world's most venomous spider, the minimum time from bite to death is 15 minutes, and the perp might continue to whistle through that period, or at least scream inconsiderately. Which is why you'd need a squad of spiders. The upside is that the airport would also save on fly-spray.

Anyway, ulcerous fuming and sotto voce swearing kept me occupied until the plane arrived, after which the journey itself was uneventful. Basic 757, no obvious chocolate used in its construction. No obvious leg-room, either, but at least we were at the back of the plane, which meant we could slam our seats back with impunity and no screams of outrage from behind. It's a generally a good place to sit; planes rarely reverse into anything.

Thomson's had thoughtfully handed us a couple of £5 vouchers on the announcement of the delay, each of which we found translated pretty much exactly into a gin and tonic on the plane. Four and a half hours, another couple of these, a game of travel Scrabble and a chunk of a novel later, and we were in Gran Canaria.

I like it here. Las Palmas is a nice city with a pleasant old quarter as well as its own beach up-town on the isthmus. The dunes of Maspalomas are a short bus-ride away for the more serious sun-seeker, too, but I'm happy enough in the city. I have to watch the sun, anyway - what with my current follicular deficit and the fact that I must be one of the few winter-holidaying Glasgowegians to take his own sunburn with him (another little side effect of the daily head-zapping), I'm tied to a regime of hats and factor 30.

That, the fatigue, and the stack of medicines on my bedside table keep me reminded that not all is entirely well. But otherwise, I feel more relaxed than I have for perhaps three months, and that's welcome. I think the fatigue is lessening, too, so I'm hoping that by the end of this little break, when I have a final week at home then a return to work, everything will seem pretty much back to normal.

I could do with that.

1 comment:

  1. I stumbled over this in the Herald this morning and enjoyed it very much. As suggested, I'll make a donation to the Beatson at the earliest opportunity.

    Your recent blogs are really graceful and funny: so much so that it's easy to forget what prompted them in the first place. I'm sure you'll be delighted to turn your thoughts back to something else, whether scripts or allotments.

    I hope that you enjoy your holiday and that, on returning, you and your family can all start moving "back to normal".

    Anyway, I don't mean to haver but, having enjoyed its content, I didn't want to leave your page without passing on kind thoughts and best wishes for a much happier spring.