While eating delectable chocolate and amaretto cake the other evening at a family friend's house, enjoying some fine sweet Australian white and gazing at the glorious spring sunset over the Nova Scotian countryside, I happened to be recounting a tale of travelling woe.
For the Mermaid of Moorgate does not always swim everywhere; no, indeed, she often takes the flying machine and hence increases her likelihood of heart attacks by still flying with British Airways. Death by Stress. What Mermaid hates is people who arrive late for things. She used to go out with someone who was always late, leaving at the last minute, unable to get ready on time. Lovely chap, but infuriating to go anywhere with as, with three minutes to go before the train/coach would leave, we'd still be on the underground because boyo wasn't ready.
Well one time, Mermaid and aforementioned boyo were due to fly out (with British Airwazzocks) to a European destination. The plane left at 2:30 from Heathrow. We needed to be checked in by 1:45. It takes 1 hour and 40 minutes from boyo's house to the airport. Mermaid was all packed and ready to leave by 12. Boyo enticed her round to his with the kind proffer of breakfast. I arrived. Breakfast was not cooked. Boyo asked Merms if she would kindly cook it. I started to do so, under the misapprehension we would have time to eat it. It was on the plates. Boyo was eating, but there was not sign of activity. Merms got suspicious.
At 12:30 she peeked into Boyo's room. He had only just decided which suitcase he was going to take. He had not packed. Had only just started to get his clothes ready. And there he was, trying to decide whether to put brown sauce or ketchup on his second piece of bacon.
It was the last straw. Each time we'd almost been late for a plane and he'd promised to sort it out. No more broken promises
"WE HAVE TO LEAVE NOW" I thundered.
"We have to leave NOW!"
I've never seen anyone with apoplexy. I think I approached an apoplectic state however. I think my tail even turned black.
Boyo, boiled egg in one hand, pair of socks in the other, proceeded to pack his case with a dervishly frenzied manner. I think he was sulking.
He ran into the kitchen, put lots of food into a plastic bag.. sorry, he did not RUN, that would convey the impression that he was now starting to hurry up. The more I hurried, the slower he got. It was now almost 1. We managed to get the tube and change for the Piccadilly line to Heathrow.
Now you must remember that this is in the days just after the bombings at airports. We were allowed just to take our credit card, money and passports on board. Nothing should be taken on. Airports were in a whirlwind of confusion - lines everywhere, baggage missing for months, planes delayed - chaos.
It was into this chaos that we descended at nearly 2 pm. Although it was past original check-in time, the flight had been delayed by 20 minutes. We had EIGHT minutes to CHECK IN, PASS SECURITY AND BOARD OUR PLANE.
Merms kicked into action. I found a worker who put us through immediately at the front of the queue. "Good luck" he called, as he told us to cut through the first class/executive flight security point.
The security guard at the railings told us to go to the back of the queue. Again, Merms took to work and flirted with him outrageously and explained the situation. Immediately he unhooked the rope and let us through the fast track. Or would have done.
"Excuse me sir" I heard him say.
There was boyo, with a big plastic Tesco's bag of cold breakfast.
Boyo was drinking Custard.
"You can't take that in there" he said to Boyo.
"But it's food. I'll finish it before we get to security."
"I can't allow you to... what are you drinking? Custard?" The security guard looked like he'd been hit in the face with a kipper.
"I like custard. It's a waste to throw it away."
"Boyo" I said, "There are bomb scares everywhere. There are massive signs up saying not to take any liquids or bags onto the plane. you can't get through security with that food, you have to throw it away!"
"But it's only custard" Boyo said, continuing to drink from the container as if it was the last food he would ever eat in his life.
"Is he with you?" the security guard said. I almost died of mortification. "Is he your boyfriend? And he's drinking CUSTARD?" He called his security guard friend over.
"This kid is drinking custard from a carton. Look."
"THROW IT AWAY NOW!"
"I've almost finished it" he pleaded, glugging away at the cardboard opening. I pulled it from him, threw it into the bag and tossed all the food into the nearest bin.
"We have three minutes to get our plane and you're worried about bloody custard!!!!!!!!!" I was so angry.
The security guard patted me on the shoulder. "Good luck" he said. By now there were three guards, all pointing and laughing. People in the queue behind were taking photos.
By some fluke, we made it to the plane with literally seconds to spare. everyone else was boarded and sitting down, glaring at us. I hardly dared to look up.
As we put on our seatbelts, Moron turned to me and said: "See, I told you we'd make it."
I wished he'd choked on his custard. I mean, really, which moron eats custard in public anyway?