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Thursday, 30 April 2009

Wednesday 22 April 2009

We leave early for the airport in Rome, making sure we’ll have enough time to relax before the flight. The journey seems to take forever; Smart car’s not being the most comfortable mode of transport. We see very little traffic en route this early in the morning, and I take several snaps of us travelling through the many tunnels that are carved into the mountains. We pass the sign that reads Abruzzo with a diagonal line through it, and our hearts fall as we leave the region and enter into Lazio and onwards towards Roma. The journey is marred by the fact that the final 4 km into Rome take an hour, with inconsiderate drives weaving in and out of lanes at random only to merge back into the one they came from originally.

We are processed fairly quickly at the airport, my treasured cargo takes our case over the allotted 15kg to 16.9, the girl behind the desk smiles and I say “Olive oil”, she smiles back, a knowing curl of the mouth and sends the suitcase on its way through without a word. We join the throng of travellers all queuing like cattle ready to be disrobed and de-belted and scanned. My tray of odds and ends is x rayed without cause for concern, however my hand luggage is passed through again then searched, the offending item being a round of pecorino cheese, which is placed back inside and passed without concern. We eat some sandwiches we’d prepared earlier and have a look around the shops. Ciampino airport doesn’t have a plethora of shops to waste… sorry pass the time in so before long we’re sat at gate number two waiting as fellow travellers join us. I find myself unable to stop looking at a girl sat opposite who has a very big face but small features, giving the impression that there’s a lot of visage surplus to requirements. Her friend on the other hand has an enormous mouth, so large that if she laughed I’m sure she’d have a flip top head. I switch on my iPod to distract me; Kate Nash pops up singing ‘Dickhead’, as I watch one in the distance annoying his girlfriend by waving his boarding pass in her face, over and over again. I start to play my counting game, which I play quite often as I walk around Tesco when I’m doing the shopping. The objective of the game is to count how many people that you see that you’d sleep with, I’m up to seven when a short man wearing built up shoes sits next to me, I become distracted and hear myself thinking, ‘I didn’t think they still made those for short arses’.

Boarding begins and people who have stood for an hour in hope of being the first on the plane are suddenly caught up in the stampede as the mass of people who have been sat down jump to their feet and push into the queue. We are ferried to the blue and yellow aeroplane and are held up by a man who can’t seem to fit his case into the overhead locker. The stewardess sighs noticeably and takes the case and stows it away six rows back from the man, who now looks visibly distressed to be separated from his luggage. We take off and the seat belt sign pings telling me it’s now okay to switch on the pod, the disembodied sound of an electronic drum machine announces ‘Pink Orange Red’ by the Cocteau Twins, Elizabeth Fraser’s vocals hover above the jangle of guitars, perfect as we float above the clouds too. Before long we’re landing and people begin to clap, almost as if they didn’t really expect the pilot to get us down and in one piece. This clapping on aeroplanes annoys the hell out me, when did the local bus driver get a round of applause for delivering a load of pensioners into the town centre?

Back home, the oil is released from it’s confines and the washer filled with laundry as two excited Jack Russell’s bounce around welcoming us home, and a steaming cup of Yorkshire tea is being stirred.

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