Sunday was to be my last day with company for about one and a half weeks as, in the evening, Carol was off up to Edinburgh to look after her niece, Vanessa. Normally, Vanessa is perfectly capable of looking after herself, you understand, but now, at a tender young age (mustn’t ask about ladies’ ages), she was in hospital having an operation on her hip. Since Vanessa and her partner, Francesco, run two shops in Edinburgh and live upstairs in a flat (not above either of the shops), Carol had offered some tender loving care while Vanessa began the recovery process on crutches when she was kicked out (sorry, discharged) on Monday.
So, at 6:30 PM on Sunday evening, after an unusually early dinner, guess where I was off to? Yes, good ol’ Luton airport again to drop Carol off for her easyJet flight up to Edinburgh. I’m getting quite used to airport runs but this one was a relative dream, if anything concerning Luton can be said to be dreamlike (nightmare is the term that usually springs to mind); the roads were very quiet so the trip was straightforward. Even the usual queues and confusion to get into and out of Luton airport’s 10-minute drop-off area were notable by their absence.
For all Luton’s faults, the airport has a very useful facility that I have yet to see anywhere else (and recently I’ve been becoming pretty familiar with airport facilities): a drop-off area which is free for 10 minutes. This is wonderful, or should be, because it avoids the need for paying extortionate fees in short-term parking areas when simply kicking some poor, unfortunate traveller out with a bag or two. Other airports take note! This facility is barrier-controlled both in and out and spits out a presumably timed ticket (I’ve never actually read one) on entry to be be used in the barrier on exit. Automatic, simple, or so you’d think. Apparently not. The confusion this causes normally rational human beings leads to fearsome queues which cause you to fear exceeding your 10 minute time limit, whereupon swingeing penalties kick in (£5 over 10 minutes). Perhaps this is why there is always some poor, hapless attendant, wrapped in arctic-grade clothing against the howling winds and lashing rain (the airport is atop a hill and quite exposed to any passing elements), taking the motorists tickets and inserting them into the exit barrier on their behalf. This process seems to slow proceedings down somewhat and causes the queues to be worse than they otherwise might. Sometimes, the attendant can even been seen helping motorists take their ticket on the way in. Amazing! I suspect the trouble is that there is a deterrent penalty for out-staying your 10 minute welcome but no suitable way of levying the charge. Hence the need for Scott-of-the-Antarctic at the exit barrier. They might at least build a weather-proof booth for the poor devils. Better yet, how about a machine that swaps your entry ticket for an exit ticket and makes you pay if you stay too long? I’m sure I’ve seen those used in all similar situations.
Duty done, it was back home to get used to the idea of drinking alone for 10 days, or so. Curiously, I had something of a honey-do list to keep me occupied during the cat’s absence. Little chance of the mouse playing, methinks.