Friday, July 02, 2004

Hazelblackberry: The Lion and the Unicorn

Dear Nick

Yesterday we had a family gathering at the international airport to farewell Don Mary & Aunty Aroma who are off for a six-week jaunt in England. They're spending their inheritance from my Aunty Tilly. Profligate, wanton old biddies. There's always something exciting about the international airport, isn't there? Gateway to other worlds. Even though the shops are never open and the coffee shops are dreadful and you always have about a three hour wait before you can shovel the passengers through the door, it's still exciting to be there. On the cusp of adventure.

I just love going to the newsagents at the airport. Even at the domestic terminal. The books and magazines all take on a fresher, more intriguing or entertaining aspect to them. And if the reading matter fails to move me I can always purchase a couple of packets of Tic Tacs or Mentos. When time drags, mints are your friend!

Fortunately the flight was a night time one. This meant that Don Mary, who favours wearing sun glasses indoors, was devoid of her Polaroid eyewear. She has these dark, square wrap-around numbers that make her look like she's just heading out to the stables with a rather large knife.

Anyway, it was all very exciting to be waving someone off on an overseas trip. Aunty Aroma has never been out of Australia and I do admire her trooping off at seventy-eight, with only her macular-degenerated eighty-four year old sister as her guide. Don Mary is a seasoned, and some would say hardened, traveller but they both had pre-flight jitters. Bloody Ern was full of bonhomie and bon mots for the cautious traveller; commenting on fire balls and way of achieving zero-gravity in flight. He clapped a beefy arm around the shoulders of each woman and said, "Now, girls, be sensible; I don't want to hear about you losing your heads in Dubai." Boom boom. He was running round the airport imitating planes banking sharply left and right. He'd had two cappuccinos and his face had a rather ruddy and over-excited aspect to it. I expected him to start vomiting and screaming for his teddy at any moment.

I offered him a mint, just to be sharing and caring. His exuberant face fell; his hand flew to his mouth. "Crocodile breath?" he whispered anxiously.

Chit chat can really flag when you're waiting for something to be over. Like boarding a plane. Or a hanging, I suppose. Finally after numerous cups of tea and dwindling conversation, the first call for their flight was made. From sitting around mumbling and looking down at outstretched legs, everyone suddenly sprang to their feet, clapping hands together: "Here we go then!" Don Mary may have passed on to me her jutting D'Entrecasteaux chin but, god bless her, we share the same genetic material that makes responding to that first boarding call A MUST. And it's only practical - after all, the sooner you get in, the sooner your oversize carry-on luggage can hog up the space in the overhead compartment. Don Mary was hustling Aunty Aroma towards the doors. She could smell all that empty space. There was a cacophony of farewells and last minute waves and then the two of them disappeared around the corner and were on their way.

I just hope she thinks to bring me home some Blackpool Rock.

Until next time, Nick.


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