Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Back from Lanzarote

Scenery, food and weather were well up to the mark in Lanzarote, where cultural delights are mainly inaccessible except by car, so I passed the week in a daze: walking by the sea, reading and eating fish dinners.

The two-mile stretch known as the 'strip' alongside the main beach at Puerto del Carmen was undergoing repairs to pipelines. They were laying new ones , for all I know, a bit like central London.

It was weird coming back on a kind of ghost plane, with fewer than 20 passengers, all of us spaced evenly with an entire row of seats each. The pilot said it would equalise the weight.

Down to earth with a bump at Gatwick (literally - the landing approach was over-speedy, and the brakes were jammed on, jolting us foward.)

If I'd been wondering which country it was, exchanges with bad-tempered officials would have soon put me straight. At deserted Gatwick I remarked to the passport checker that it was very quiet. 'Do you want to make a complaint about it?' he snapped. I said that he must have had quite a few already that day. Fortunately, he was trapped in his glass box. so couldn't get out to arrest me and there were no spares about. I put it down to worries about pending unemployment.

We took the Victoria stopping train. A surly guard sold us singles to Coulsdon South, the outer-most stop covered by our Freedom Passes. He quoted £11 60 for the two of us, then got stroppy when R asked him if there were concessions for OAPs. He said he could charge us more if it had been later than 4.30am . R fronted him up, which is a bit unusual for him, and said in answer to his exasperation, 'The answer is 'No', then'. By way of aplogising, I suppose, the man grumbled that it was 1am, which we couldn't dispute. It was 1am for all of us.

The queue for the night bus was a mix of mainly foreign young men with backpacks, a few loungers and a couple of wasted-looking characters crouched on steps in shop doorways. The temperature was a balmy 10 degrees. We had an interesting half-hour journey in 'reserved for the elderly' seats -interesting because I read a thriller whilst listening to a young man with a guitar case, dressed in bright 70s clothes with a full 'afro' hair-do. He was talking to an older man about gigs they'd been to.

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