Stop this Nerk (two)

So I’ve delivered the hire car back to the young man who resembles Jeff Brazier, even down to the same accent and spent the morning mooching around the arrivals hall at Stansted airport. It’s only 11.20 a.m. and I’ve noticed that there’s quite a lot of people speaking German and that the group of Eastern European men opposite me, who are swigging neat vodka out of a bottle they’re passing around are reinforcing their own stereotype. I decide it’s time to choose what will be lunch today, and having already decided it will be something healthy, I head to Pret a Manger and select a crayfish and avocado salad and return to my original seat. Opposite me now is a small boy, just a toddler and he’s eating a ham baguette that is the same length and thickness as his arms; he looks so funny dwarfed by his giant bread-stick. All around me people have their laptops open to Facebook, I switch on my iPod and it shuffles forward and Little Boots sings Motorway, as I tuck into my salad.

Motorway

I mooch some more and as I’m getting bored decide to ask if I can enter the departure lounge, as at least there’s shops to spend time in. The woman on the Ryanair desk says it’s okay and asks me to keep an eye out for the departure gate for the Pescara flight as all the information boards have malfunctioned. I join the queue at security, take off my belt: I have never understood why we have to do this. When my turn comes, the sign above my head reading, ‘stop this nerk and check his case’ must have lit up as my case has caused the machine to bleep and it’s been diverted to another bench. I’m called over and am asked if the case contains any liquids or creams. I respond in the negative but do tell the man who’s opening it that there’s a six-month supply of prescription drugs and a metal loaf tin inside. He removes the loaf tin and takes the case back to be x-rayed. The machine bleeps again and he comes back and asks me again if there’s any liquids or creams inside, again i reply, no and he smiles. “There’s deodorant inside,” he says. Recollection crosses my face and I tell him I’d forgotten it was there.

There’s now a small crowd all wanting to see what contraband is inside my case, they watch as the security guard removes two animal themed onsies, four packets of Colman’s chilli con carne mix, a retractable washing-line, a large orange rubber hoop and what looks like bags of powder. A woman leans in to see as the bags of powder are revealed and is visibly disappointed to see the bags contain turmeric, garam masala and cumin. (I’ll admit it: I’m a culinary powder trafficker). The man then retrieves three aerosols and two roll-on deodorants, “They had a sale in Asda,” I say as if that’ll make everything all right. He then swabs the case for narcotics, I assume and takes off the deodorants to be tested, before returning them to me in a plastic bag. I re-pack my case and am skulking off in the direction of departures when he calls me back. The nosey woman stops and turns to watch as he says, “You forgot these.” and I watch as he holds up a clear plastic bag containing three tubes of water-based lubricant with the words ‘Sensual Lube’ emblazoned across them. I take them from him and then say, “They had a sale on at …” I don’t go into any further details and remove myself from the security section and melt into the duty free shopping area.

Finally it’s time to join the queue for my flight, a man with a clipboard tells me it’s gate 57 and off I go, I join the long line of people waiting and just by chance catch sight of the person in front’s boarding pass and see that it says, Seville, I have no desire to go to Spain so I ask another steward with a clip board where the Pescara flight leaves and he tells me gate 55. I’m delighted to see I’m at the front of the queue, I’m joined by several Italians and before long there’s around 150 people behind me. The operative opens the gate and I hand in my passport and boarding pass, she looks at it, shakes her head and tells me I’m in the wrong place, as this is the gate for the 16.15 flight to Kaunas, Lithuania. I explain to the handful of Italians with me that we are in the wrong place and they follow me to another man with a clip-board, he checks and tells us gate 59, and we all head off hoping it’s the correct one. It was, thankfully but in all the confusion I not only lost my place at the front of the queue but found myself standing behind the nosey woman from security, who when we come to board the plane makes sure she’s several seats away rom mine.

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Sign of the Day

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Stop this Nerk (one)

I’ve recently returned from a trip back to the UK to see family and friends and although it was great to catch up I couldn’t wait to return to Italy and be back home.

Now, whenever I’m travelling by aeroplane, I’m sure I have a sign that flashes above my head that reads, ‘can’t be trusted’ or ‘bloody liability’ or possibly, ‘stop this nerk and check his case’.

As we checked in at the airport in Pescara a man who had enjoyed a few drinks asked us if we’d carry his brothers’ case on for him, obviously we said no, and despite him slotting it in-between mine and my friends cases he didn’t succeed in getting an extra case past the security team. My hand-luggage went through the scanner and the machine beeped, the woman looking on the x-ray mentioned the word, coltello (blade/knife) to her colleague and my case was taken to another bench. I remembered then that in a gift box inside my luggage was a pizza cutter. A different man came over and opened my case, the first thing he found was my deodorant and as it was larger than 100ml, he confiscated it as he shook his head at me. He pointed to the gift box that was exquisitely wrapped in expensive wrapping paper: (for expensive wrapping paper, read, free newspaper of offers from supermarket) .

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Photo by Becky Tickle.

“What’s this?” he asked, so I told him it was a gift of cups and saucers, he smiled and closed up my case and I went on my way with the pizza cutter still inside. Well after making such an effort with the wrapping paper it’d be a shame to have to remove it in the airport just because of a simple little circular blade, it’s not as if they were delivering pizza on board the 20.35 to Stansted.

Sign of the Day

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How Odd ( a short scene taken from reality)

Time: 21.30

Place: An Italian House

Man 1. Pours himself a glass of wine.

A car horn sounds.

Man 1. Puts down the wine bottle and walks to the door and opens it as he restrains his dog.

Man 1. Sees a car containing 2 men.

Man 1. Can I help you?

Man 2. Are you English?

Man 1. Yes.

Man 2. We come for you.

Man 1. What?

Man 2. Hands Man 1 a sheet of paper.

Man 1. Looks at paper. On it written in English is directions from Ciampino airport in Rome to this lane in the Abruzzi countryside.

Man 3. We take you to the airport?

Man 1. No.

Man 2. Is there three English for the airport?

Man 1. Not here mate.

General confusion, man 1 reads again and sees it says ‘our friends live at this house’

Man 3. Is this from your friends?

Man 1. No.

Man 2. Will your dog attack.

Man 1. (Lies) Yes. It mentions a yellow house.

Man 3. Is there a yellow house.

Man 1. Yes, but not up this end of the road.

Man 2. Where is a yellow house?

Man 1. Down the road, that way.

Car reverses up lane and drives away in the direction of the yellow house

Man 1. Goes back into the house and resumes the pouring of the wine.

This happened here on 27th August 2013. Odd doesn’t cover it.

Swedish Meatballs, Storms and the Electric Mosquito Box

Last week when the weather was good, we replaced the horrible tiled living room floor with a new wooden one. The weekend arrived and with it rain. A thunderstorm raged throughout Saturday night, great forks of lightning skittered across the night sky, and sporadic sheets of lightning lit up the Abruzzi countryside like a stadium. Now I like a good storm and it helps to clear the air, which has been quite humid for the past few days, I see storms as nature’s thermostat so to speak.

Sunday arrived and reports of a tornado causing some devastation up in northern Italy are in the news. Thankfully the most distressing thing we’ve had here in Chieti is a neglected bag of cement that is now sodden and useless. So we eat breakfast as the iPod shuffles and Petula Clark, sings Downtown. “That’s what we’ll do,” I chip in, interrupting Ms Clark, “we’ll go downtown, so to speak. Let’s have a trip out to Pescara.” As we need some essentials, milk, bread, wine etc. we head first to the large Auchan supermarket near the airport; what a mistake this is. The store is packed with shoppers and the handful of checkouts open have queues fifteen people deep. Oh well, as I’ve already said previously, waiting is the Italian national pastime. Back in the car with our purchases stowed in the boot, the iPod shuffles and Marilyn Manson, starts to play, A Place in the Dirt. I’m not in the mood for Mr Manson’s rock on such a sunny day, so do something I rarely do, I manually move to the next track, and Sting, sings, Fields of Gold.

We have lunch in Ikea, the canteen is spacious, much bigger than any I’ve seen in any of their English stores, but the Italian’s take lunch seriously, it’s a time to relax over a plate of pasta and chat. The store has a clever little trolley device that means one person can stack and wheel up to four trays of food from counter to checkout to table. We have a small beer and Swedish meatballs with skinny fries, before clearing our table and heading into the store. One thing I’ve noticed that’s very different to self-clear restaurants in the UK, is that the Italian people actually do clear away their trays. In UK branches of fast food stores, I’m always amazed by the people who leave their table covered with the remains of their lunch, expecting someone else to clear away the table detritus for them.100_6291-crop

Back home I look at the electric anti-mosquito device I’ve purchased, it’s a sort of light attached to a speaker that emits a high pitched sound that I can’t hear but apparently repels the vicious little insects. I’m dubious but at just five euro, I’ll give it a go. The dinner dishes are put away just as the rain starts again, it’s coming down in great sheets, big fat blobs of liquid pelt the ground tossing up dust and sand. With video and TV watching quickly eating up the temporary internet connection’s meagre monthly allowance, we’ve resorted to watching DVD’s in the evening and at the moment we are almost at the end of the second season of the eighties TV drama, Dynasty. Joan Collins plays a great TV villain while Linda Evans has spent much of season two, either weeping or mostly doing rabbit-in-the-headlights face acting.

Monday morning arrives after a night of constant rain, the only good thing is no extra mosquito bites, so did the device actually work or did the rain keep them away – only time will tell. I lie in bed listening to the plop, plop of rain coming down the chimney before getting up and poking my head outside. My herb planter is submerged, the plughole in the sink cum planter hasn’t been able to cope with the deluge. Suddenly there’s more rain, a heavier burst pelts the house and drives itself sideways against the windows. Oh well, I think I wasn’t planning on doing anything special today. Water is running down the lane and I’m half expecting to see Noah come around the bend in his ark.100_6289

I’m about to make breakfast when more, plop plopping is heard, this time it’s in the living room, water seems to have been forced under the tiles and is now dripping into several pools on my nice new wooden floor. Where’s Noah now, I think, I heard he was handy with wood. Maybe he can sort out this new problem.