We swallowed up the M25 tarmac with unusual efficiency. Silence deafened the inside of the car. I felt horrible; I had spent the last two days with my family trying to say goodbye in a way that meant something. But it was two days of silence.
It wasn’t just the past two days. We had barely talked about my year away since it was mentioned. Maybe our silence was a conscious decision, we were perhaps too used to each other. Everything that we wanted to say had been said at more frivolous times. Perhaps when I went off to Tesco’s one day to get some bread and mum told me to take care, come back safe and that I was going to be missed… that was the moment spent grieving my absence. Back in 1999.
The car could not fit anymore of my life or anymore of Jime’s wardrobe inside. If my brother and I weren’t separated by 4 years it would have been like being twins in the womb again as we reacquainted ourselves on the back seat. Should have had that shower – not a great start to 36 hours without one. Songs came and went in typical MP3 fashion; a mismatch of 70’s Driving Rock, Drive-time 80’s Rock and 90’s Rock Music for Driving. They sparked the only conversation that we had – memories of concerts past and concerts to come and promises of concerts when I return.
And then; complete silence. We had reached Heathrow.. Well, we were ensnarled in its environs. The possibility of successfully navigating the Heathrow traffic system are approximately 3720 to 1. Trust was placed with my dad at the helm. Confidence sweated from him, all he needed from us was complete silence… all he needed from his car was the sound of the sat nav. We were there. Almost.
We grabbed a trolley, unloaded and wandered into the terminal. A last minute weigh-in, wrapping of cases and a remortgaging of the flat to cover the cost of additional baggage and we were ready… for coffee.
And so we sat to enjoy the moment. And we did. The silence was golden.
I’ve found my own way of dealing with the slowness of tourists in London. Even though they maybe the last bastions of hope to Britain’s crumbling economy I will never see eye-to-eye with someone who’d want to take a photo of themselves next to a lamppost or a bin in central London. My mechanism of coping with such hideousness at rush hour is to swear, under my breath in Spanish. No one is any the wiser of my frustration and I feel I have done my bit
Unless they’re from a Spanish speaking country. In which case I pretend I am singing some reggaeton, or equally colourful Latin based sex-tune.
OK, so this doesn’t work in Mendoza. I have had to resort to swearing in English again. It started in Buenos Aires Aeroparque airport where I had to collect my 103kg of luggage from the Generation Game conveyor belt before checking back in. I had to queue behind case trolleys. TROLLEYS – not even people, presumably they’d nipped out for a quick mate or there was football on somewhere. Dropped a few ‘C’ bombs at this point and if anyone heard me I simply smiled at them. None the wiser.
Anyway, people say that us Brits love to queue. I hate it. I love theme parks – hate queuing, so I don’t go to theme parks. I don’t think my life is any less rich as a result. So, do we love queuing? No, we love tutting. And nothing promotes a percussion of tutting more than seeing the same neglected case wobbling along the conveyor slats. A case that has been casually bumping and revolving its way repeatedly in front of our eyes like a drunken catwalk model vying for our attention. And I do give it attention; even though it bears no resemblance to my case I check it on every rotation. And then tut.
Well, they all arrived in various formations. These cases look like they’d had one hell of a party. All strewn across the belt like fucked-up rock stars in an 80’s hotel room. The cling-wrap the only thing preventing them from vomiting my clothes across the Aeroparque floor. But I was a grateful roadie to this bad boy band baggage who had at least managed to stay in one piece and turn up at the same airport as me.
So I took my band of cases and followed signs to somewhere, then somewhere else. And then back again to find the correct check-in desk. And the bags were sent back onto another belt and off to San Juan. And it was there that the horrors the abandoned fairground carousel came back to haunt me… One plane, one terminal, one conveyor, 20 passengers… and endless bags that seemed to belong to no one.