It started off well with the usual breeze through security at Almeria airport and yet again the water machine kindly gave me two bottles instead of one. Arriving in Blighty I knew a delay at UK passport control was likely and 30 minutes of queuing later I was gently stewing as I had missed my connecting train. It’s not the poor staff’s fault that the powers on high have slashed staffing levels. I joked to a supervisor that at least the phrase ‘I blame the Tories’ can be used again.
Needing to exchange some Euros at the airport MoneyCorp kindly offered to take them off my hands in exchange for the shirt of my back! The rate was only1.47, later the post Office gave me 1.37. Next time I shall use my Spanish debit card as I think this way is the most cost effective and currently the rate is around 1.27.
Train tickets can now be paid for in Euros. Well I know UK PLC is hard up (aren’t we all?!?) But when I tried to pay with a 50€ note for a £25 train ticket the amount I would have been charged was 39€! Last time I checked the exchange rate was about 1.24 not 1.56 the robbing bleep bleeps!
On the way back at Gatwick airport at first all was well as the new boarding pass readers speed people through ready to be humiliated by the Gestapo; sorry I mean the security staff. I always make sure I have nothing in my pockets yet the light flashed and the buzzer sounded and I won a free body rub down by a security guy. He pawed every part of my body and put both hands down the inside of my trousers. As I recovered my poise he then told me to remove my shoes so that they could also be scanned.
I was given the usual excuse ‘well the borders have to be kept safe!’ Walking away someone else gave me a free chemical swab and analysis of my wallet! I walked into the shopping area and a lady offered me a shopping guide. Stupidly assuming she had read the darn thing I asked her where I could buy a CD as HMV is now a sunglasses shop. The computer said NO!
I slumped into a chair to wait for my flight and a lovely lady came over asking me to answer a survey about The Gatwick Experience. I said I was not the best person to ask yet she persevered. She listened to my moans about strange men putting their hands down my trousers; the lack of any clocks in the departure lounge; and finally I asked just how much perfume and bottles of whisky can they seriously expect their customers to buy as there seems to be nothing else on offer. She agreed and said that most complaints recently were about HMV and Next closing.
I arrived in Rome and I was almost out of arrivals when a plain clothes policeman stopped me and did the strangest thing. Firstly he asked where I was coming from then he picked my suitcase up seemingly to weigh it and said ‘on your way’ or it could have been Ciao. I must stop dressing like an arms smuggler in future.