Saturday 27 December 2014

The long journey home

Nina McCarthy

Published 17/09/2013 | 12:28

Braving the wild and rocky terrain of long distance travel can play havoc with your state of mind - and your appearance.

You’re on the last leg of your journey.  The third and final flight, the shortest one. 

For 24 hours now you’ve done the checking in, security, looking into the camera, standing behind the line, the waiting, queueing up, stowing and unstowing overhead bags. 

You’ve plodded along miles of interminable airport corridors, you’ve run the wrong way down a travelator just for a bit of proper exercise, and you’ve waited 40 minutes in a foreign airport for a go off the ‘western’ toilet. 

You’ve spent 12 hours moulded against the fuselage to avoid having to touch the fat man with the flaky skin spilling over into your seat.  You’ve drunk a little too much wine & a little too little water. 

Your nerves are shot from the baby two rows back whose vocal abilities far outsoar both the roar of the engines of a 767 and the Friends re-runs you’re blaring into your headset at max volume. 

You’ve eaten airplane ‘food’ (except of course the rubber ‘omelette’, which isn’t really food, ha ha Emirates, funny). 

You’ve gone through immigration, found your bag, been thoroughly sniffed in customs by a Bassett hound with no concept of personal space, re-checked your bag. 

You smell worse than a hippie after Glastonbury and you almost don’t care anymore.  Your eyes are dry and gritty,  your tongue looks like you’ve eaten a piece of chalk.  You get the picture.

Meanwhile, in international arrivals at Dublin airport, your family and friends are waiting.  Well, mine don’t, but I have heard that other people’s do...with balloons. Banners with your name on. Flags. 

They have been waiting for this moment for more than a year.  They had a shower this morning, and they’re in their best rigouts. 

They’ve had two extra hours at arrivals to whip themselves into a real frenzy because at Heathrow, Aerlingus (bless them) decided to wait on Mrs Murphy (who got side-tracked in Duty Free) to join her bag on the aircraft, missed their spot with air traffic control and had to sit on the tarmac and wait for another one.

You finally get to Dublin, the Guards laugh at you at passport control because you look like an undead version of your passport photo.  ‘Ah you’re coming from Australia are ya, sure where’s your tan?’. 

I left it somewhere over Turkey, along with the will to live.  You find your bags again (phew) - the wheel has broken on your big suitcase (lifetime guarantee my a**e.

You stop to compose yourself in the loo just on the other side of the arrivals door, you douse yourself in deodorant and gobble a few breath mints.

It’s like hanging an airfreshener in a slurry truck.  You look in the mirror.  There’s no way they will be pleased to see you in this state. 

Will they even recognise you...?

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