It was about 5am when I realised I hadn’t packed yet, and about fifteen minutes later when I discovered how much I hate packing. How can anyone possibly fit everything they may or may not need for the foreseeable future into one bag? Yes, that bag is bigger than my wardrobe, but it takes surprisingly little to fill it. I’ve repacked it seven times already, each time with lower expectations, and it looks like I’m going to have to go without my Playstation, the vast majority of my shoes and the dog. I just can’t get them in.
Bloody hell, Mum is yelling at me AGAIN.
“KEVIN! Put that bloody diary down and give me one last hug!”
I keep telling her I’ll be there in a minute, but she’s been shouting up the stairs every half hour or so anyway. I dunno what she’s so upset about. She’ll have the dog for company AND my sister is only up the road, and that’s more than I’ll have. A guilt trip is one journey I DON’T need, thank you very much.
Gulp. Bev just text. They’re outside. (I love that it would never even occur to her to get out of the car and ring the doorbell.) Can’t go back now. The girls have been saving up for this for over a year, whereas I, on the other hand, have two empty credit cards and the urge to be reckless.
Fuck it. I’m off.
2pm – Heathrow, Terminal 3
It’s all going on here! Customs made Bev down her ‘Lipton’s Iced Tea’ because it was a ‘suspicious liquid’, then I had to take off my belt and shoes and got a thorough ‘wanding’. It’s more action than I’ve had in ages!
7.45pm – Somewhere over Europe
So far on this ‘trip of a lifetime’ I’ve done a lot of sitting around. In cars, in airports, and now in the arse-end of a plane. I’d planned on killing some time reading Bill Bryson’s ‘Down Under’ book, but on the first page he points out that there are more things to kill you in Australia than anywhere else on Earth. That it’s full of the world’s most poisonous snakes, the world’s most dangerous mammals and the world’s most lethal insects, and that even the fluffiest of caterpillars can kill you “with a single toxic nip.” I’ve had to put it down as I was getting palpitations. What the hell am I doing going there by choice?
The three of us have donned natty airline-supplied surgical stockings, which I’m told will stop us from dying in mid-air due to blood clots (I’ve put on two pairs just in case). The first of several airplane meals has arrived, and it resembles the offspring of a roast dinner and a Rubik’s cube. It’s all very exciting. Bev just picked up what looks to be a tiny square Yorkshire pudding between her long pink nails, and muttered in awe, “Is this what it feels like to be a giant?”
Everything has gone smoothly so far, although Rachel caused a scene when we were boarding the plane as she’d suddenly dropped her bags like she’d been caught coming out of Primark. She’d thrown herself into the aisle to ferociously dig through them and had held up the whole plane, muttering and swearing like only an Essex girl can.
“I’ve left me bleedin chewing gum in the car!” she’d wailed, red-faced and breathless.
And they have the cheek to say that I’m the drama queen?
So far, I’ve not been dramatic at all. OK, so every time there is a judder of turbulence, a wobble of wing or a mechanical buzz from below I’m convinced the plane is about to go down, but other than thinking we’re all about to die I’m doing fine. We’ve only been out of Essex a few hours and I can already feel the weight lifting from my shoulders. I’ve broken into spontaneous whistling twice already (Rachel is counting, which is not a good sign), and although I’m not yet as good as I could be, I’m nowhere near as bad as I was. Besides, who can possibly stay miserable with Bev sitting next to them?
“Ooh listen!” she just shouted, excited at an announcement from the pilot. “We’re about to land in Hong Kong! I had NO idea that was in Australia!”