Celtic Illumination, part 140, John Denver lied
I suppose you could describe my return to Carols flat as a sort of James Cagney moment. For, I can assure you, I was on top of the world Ma. Carol was very clever; in fact she had received a special award from Trinity College in Dublin for achieving the highest marks ever at Trinity. She specialised in languages and therefore knew a lot of words. She seemed to have made a list of all the nasty ones she knew and was aiming them at me, as I collected my various bits and pieces from around her flat and stuffed them into my bag. One of the names she called me, which I shall never understand why, was ‘Heretic’.
I really was on top of the world and I knew I was unstoppable. Carol would never forget that my IQ was far higher than hers and that was something she would never forgive me for. I however, was looking forward to getting back, for the failed fast jet pilots would have a different sort of fellow to deal with on my return. This grand tour stuff, or in my case, the big stagger, certainly worked. I ignored my sisters name calling and double checked my itinerary.
Our Flight was leaving Venice at a quarter past midnight. The train services thinned out in the evenings so we should get to Venice about seven o clock. Which meant leaving Trento about five, ish. It was four o clock now, so I decided we should leave, just to be on the safe side and to get away from Carol and her persistent nagging. My sky high IQ may have put me in the genius category and my military training saw me approach most things in a precise and practical manner, so a little buffer zone in the timetable could never be a bad thing.
Karen was reasonably quiet, however as we sat opposite each other on the train heading for Venice, in a packed carriage, she reached into her bag and produced a pair of my underpants. She handed them to me announcing that I had forgotten to pack them. I think she thought she would embarrass me and I could see that the people around us smirked as her gesture. I don’t think she expected me to put them on my head but to be fair I didn’t wear them there too long.
It was sad having to pass Venice by on our way to the airport. I really wanted to get back inside it and discover much more about the place, but I knew I would have to leave that for another day. The airport was empty so I approached a check in desk and presented my documents. As I looked about, trying to decide the best place to wait, I heard the stewardess apologise as the flight had been delayed. Luckily I wasn’t the sort of person who would begin to bluster and complain.
The stewardess looked quite nervous. “I’m sorry,” she said. “This flight was delayed for four hours.” I began to calculate exactly how long I would have to wait. “Nine hours!” I said. “No,” she said, and I could see her begin to calculate in her head. “Thirteen hours.” I don’t think she knew that I had the IQ of a genius. It was seven o clock in the evening, the aircraft would be leaving at four in the morning so I would have to wait, seven from twelve plus four, nine hours. I knew I was right, I always was. “The aircraft left thirteen hours ago,” she said.
Now admittedly certain forms of information take longer than others to sink in and I can confirm I had a sort of sinking feeling. I looked at the paperwork and my mistake stood out like the proverbial dogs doo dahs. My flight, sorry, our flight, was programmed to leave at zero zero one five hours. A quarter past midnight on the twenty seventh. It was now nineteen hundred hours on the twenty seventh. Karen of course was now asking what the problem was, she had picked up on the fact that our flight had been delayed and was now entering most pissed off English woman of the decade territory.
Carol and Karen had made a decent job of spending all of my money so we only had a few bob left. We may have had enough to buy one cup of coffee but most definitely not two. I knew I had to act fast so I did what any young gentleman in a fix, in Venice, would do, I rang Carol. The train service in Italy was quite good but the ticket process was a bit silly. You couldn’t buy one ticket from A to B. You had to buy a book of tickets which would cover your journey. We had enough tickets left over for one of us to return to Carol.
Karen left me at Venice airport and went back North, to Carol, where she would borrow some money and get a train to the French coast and then a ferry back to UK. I however had a slightly different problem. I would remain at Venice airport and thumb a lift to the UK. My memory of Venice airport is that it was like a number of portacabins that had been stapled together. It certainly wasn’t very big, shambolic might be more appropriate. I used the remaining daylight to scour the immediate area for somewhere to sleep.
I didn’t mind sleeping rough, but I wasn’t familiar with the area so I needed somewhere that would protect me from the elements, should the weather turn nasty, and from dogs, and pick pockets, or both or God forbid, all three. I saw a small guard post which would be used during the day for a ticket collector, or supervisor, at the entrance to the car park. I checked my money and saw that I had thirty shillings in UK money and about fifty pence in Lira.
Marissa had taken me to a friend of hers who owned a farm, up in the mountains. It could have been an elderly relative I’m not sure. I do remember the farmer showing me his still where he made grappa, a sort of schnapps. It was a dingy old barn and there were about six of these bright shiny tanks which he proudly pointed out were legal and tagged by the customs men. He then brightened up and swung a door open showing another six tanks which he proudly announced that the revenue men didn’t know existed. It was nice to see that the good ol boy traditions were not just confined to Ireland or Hazzard county.
The farmer produce a basic, unflavoured, grappa which he allowed me to taste but he then showed me a bottle into which he had put a handfull of aniseed. It looked quite dirty but tasted exactly like Pernod so I bought half a dozen bottles, at about one pound each, which were now lying in my bag and was all that I was going to have to eat or drink while at Venice airport. I didn’t have enough money to get back into Venice where I am sure that Salvatore would have put me up, so I was very much stuck at Venice airport and there was no point in feeling depressed about it.
I sat and watched the lights in Venice reflecting off the water and took a few sips of my grappa. I may have had no money, or no food, and no way of getting home, but I can promise you I was a happy little boy. I had certainly achieved what I had set out to achieve and had enjoyed the best birthday party any one could wish for. The situation I was in would cause lesser men to fret and worry, but I was trained by the best. If I could survive being a novice on mountain rescue this would be a walk in the park. All I had to do was Improvise, Adapt and Overcome. First thing was to sneak into the little car park office and try to get a decent night’s sleep. Tomorrow was another day.