It was my son's 29th birthday on 30th August and though I wasn't able to see him on his birthday I met up with him later at "band practice" near my home to give him his birthday present. He told me that he and his girlfriend had spent the night in a château near here to celebrate so he was a bit "fragile"! So, I gave him his present and said I would see him when I got back.
On Monday I left my car at work and caught the bus to Geneva airport for my flight to London. Once I had gotten through security I had a couple of hours to wait so thought I would treat myself at their snazzy "smoked salmon-ish" kinda place. You know the place where the food tastes really, really good but then you have to sell a kidney to pay for it - but I digress! While I was sitting there I looked at my phone and saw that I had missed two calls from my ex in the US and two from my son. I thought "oh my God what has happened" so called my son back immediately (never bothered calling the ex back - tee, hee)! It turns out that André and Lily had actually gotten engaged over the weekend and the little shit hadn't told me when I gave him his present (hence the night in the château)! I'm embarrassed to say this but I actually shed a tear. "Embarrassed" because I'm not usually sentimental but this just felt so good. Lily is Swiss and they met at college and have been together nine years I think. More to the point she is lovely so I guess I can be excused a little soppyness.
|André and Lily in Iceland|
I have never actually met Lily's family (she is an only child) so we are having a get-together brunch on October 16th (what do you think are my chances of losing 4 kg by then? Shave my legs - oh right!). Actually, her maternal grandmother is from Guyana (granddad was Austrian but died a few years ago) so that set of grandparents only ever spoke English to each other. Not that it is a problem as I speak French anyway, but I am looking forward to getting to know them. They are planning to get married next September/October time so that gives them a year to sort out what kind of wedding they want. As sod's law would have it, my other son and his girlfriend are getting PACSed this month (civil partnership) and then will be getting married when they can afford it - just hope it's not next September/October time!!! I have already put in an order for three grandchildren each (and am definitely looking forward to that prospect), but I may be jumping the gun a bit I suppose.
I have mentioned before that I go to a patchwork club on a Monday night. I am very much a beginner but I reckon if I start now I might have a baby quilt ready in due course - or am I getting ahead of myself?
Anyway, while I was sitting at the restaurant in the airport I saw another English woman sitting opposite me. She started talking to a man eating his lunch next to her and it turned out he was Iraki. She then proceeded to very rudely berate him for "all that is wrong with the way women are treated in Irak, and she should know because she works for a charity that saves parakeets"!!!! WTF!!! She went on and on in a very loud, posh English voice and the poor bugger kept trying to eat his lunch in peace. I think if it would have been me I would have politely told her to piss off. Who the hell did she think she was. Of course there are problems in Irak but talking to this poor guy trying to mind his own business like he was Satan's spawn was appalling! It turns out in the end she wasn't English (thank God) but Danish (her English was that good), so Denmark you get the kudos for that bore unfortunately but at least the parakeets are safe!
The flight to London only takes about 90 minutes and I was booked in to spend the night at an airport hotel in order to get a very early flight the next morning to Greece. On the way out the terminal I thought I should just get a bit of money from the ATM. I punched in my code but after a few minutes of gurgling by the machine no money came out. There was a chap standing next to me and he said that he could witness for me that the machine had malfunctioned so I went straight to the desk and explained that while my account had been debited 200 pounds no money had come out. The girl there really wasn't that interested (very poor customer service attitude) so I asked her for a form to fill out to document what had happened. And yes she did have such a form so why the hell didn't she volunteer it I wonder. When I got to my hotel I immediately sent an email to their customer service saying what had happened but couldn't do anything more about it as my UK bank details were all at home. It makes me wonder though what would have happened if that was the only money I had access to. I would have been totally screwed.
So this morning I called my bank and got the never-ending "for deposits, press 1, for internet banking, press 2, para espanol, marque el no. 3". Those things drive me MAAAADDD but it seems you never get through to an actual person any more do you! Eventually I did get through to India (I suppose) and to be fair a very helpful lady went through all the details with me and said that they would sort it out and re-credit my account. When I hung up, my colleague burst out laughing saying that while I would probably get my 200 pounds back, that call alone would probably cost me 300!! Yeah, thanks for that!
Anyway, I spent the night at the Premier Inn at Heathrow's Terminal 5 and I have to say I am very impressed with their efficiency. The rooms are basic but spotlessly clean, the restaurant has good food and the staff hustle (again 50/50 Brits and Eastern Europeans - Brexit be damned)! I had to get up at the crack of dawn to get my flight the next day and while I was waiting for the "Hoppa" bus back to the airport I got talking to the desk clerk. He told me that he was (also) Iraki and had got out of Irak 10 years ago and managed to come to the UK. He was incredibly polite and helpful so I didn't bore him with how it was all his fault the way women were treated in Irak. Yet again I think that while the problem of immigration is indeed very real, the gutter press making out all immigrants to be sponging scroungers does nobody any favours at all!