End of the line – monday

0530 get alarm call from reception. 0550 get into taxi.

0620 I have checked in and cleared security. Given how paranoid they are, this has to be something of a record.

Stop off at Chanel but they don’t stock Pour Monsieur and what they do have is more expensive than London prices. Make do with a litre of Tanqueray Traveller’s which turns out to cost less than the marked shelf price!

Breakfast is an insipid coffee and a large slice of good lemon cake.

Sit staring out at early morning misty airport. Thoughts go back to our first trip here in 99 when Jaipur was fog bound and we had a nightmare trying to get back to Goa for our return flight.

Manage to write up Sunday before heading down to the gate. I have 265/-left. There is a proper coffee booth there and even allowing for the never-stated taxes it will cover an espresso and a bun. Or so I think. The girl tells me it will be 290/-. I point out that it is 114 us 95 so how come. “the computer does t register espresso so you have to have a latte or Americano”

“But I don’t have enough money for that” “I can’t make an espresso because the computer hasn’t been updated”

“But you use the same coffee for all of the different coffees”

“I’ll phone the manager” After a long explanation I can catch amongst the hindi phrases like 25% so I guess he is giving her a way round the system failure. She puts the phone down and starts making an espresso at which point mistertubby manager appears to check on her. She hands me a largish espresso, saying “double shot” and has even warmed up the bun. She relieves me of all 265/-which seems an entirely satisfactory result. Boarding is so slow I have plenty of time to consume my ill-gotten gains.

Takeoff is only 15 minutes late but after half an hour it feels an awful long way to Heathrow. Somehow it passes. I finish the last 150 pages of the Jo Nesbo – “The Son” and watch a play I downloaded before leaving about a New Year’s Eve family gathering in a castle in Dorset called “Colin Bursted”. It’s entertaining for 90 minutes and enlivened by Charles Dance’s cameo as a transvestite beloved uncle.

Time passes and eventually we land after being stacked for 15 minutes. Oddly the plane is about to Dock when they appear to move it to another gate which takes 10 minutes. So from a scheduled 15 minute early landing we are now 20 minutes behind. Having only a small rucksack I get to passport control ahead of the crowd and am straight through without waiting. The bags start to come off but it is 20 minutes before mine appears. The coach leaves at 3.30. A one stop to terminal 2 and a longish walk get me to the coach station by 3.05 in time to put on shoes and socks and a sweater.

The coach leaves on the dot. Staring out at grey skies and greenish fields, it is hard to register the so sudden change. Only this morning I was in Mumbai. The cold is refreshing and it’s not raining.

The coach arrives virtually on time in Sidwell Street and a 57 is soon rushing headlong towards Exmouth. At this time of day no traffic means 30 minutes. Striding up Fore Street with the rucksack on brings home that whatever the state of the rest of my body, my legs are currently in pretty good nick.

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