Friday, December 16, 2005

Hello Tenerife

“Daaaad… I’m boooored…” Oh, isn’t it great to share all that quality time with the little darlings? I try to conceal my obvious relief as the apple of my eye grunts …headphones are inserted into ears and eyes glaze over. Head bobs back and forth rather like a pigeon walking, but obviously in a manner carefully nurtured to look terribly cool. Despite the tinny headphone leakage, the rumble of the aircraft jets and the inane babbling of my fellow passengers, I close my eyes and find peace in the barrage of white noise.

An elbow jabs my ribs. Not for the first time. “Are we there yet?” I shake my head. Two more hours to go. I calculate that at the present rate of elbow jabs, natural erosion should wear away my entire lower rib by the time we land in Tenerife. My wife looks at me smugly. She has managed to bag the seat on the other side of the aisle, between us sit two teenagers. I hesitate to call them ‘our’ teenagers because in public they stand around facing walls and trying their hardest to appear to have nothing to do with us. I cast my mind back to the holiday shopping trip last weekend. At first I enjoyed the look of horror as I proudly showed them my bright orange swimming shorts. I was gurgling with delight by the time I got to the pink and green Hawaiian shirt and explained my incredible luck in finding socks to match. I may have gone too far. My wife keeps looking at me with pity and shaking her head.

I am woken from my reverie. Tannoy, elbow, then my blocked ears tell of our imminent landing. The teenagers become children as they babble excitedly to each other. They have researched Tenerife extensively on the internet. They each have a list of things they want to do, compiled like terrorist’s demands. I daresay they would have more chance of negotiating the unconditional release of Sadaam Hussein than persuading their mother that paragliding is as safe as ping pong. But they are teenagers, so they will try. I plan to make myself scarce as soon as the topic is raised.

We muddle our way off the aircraft. Thirteen year old daughter claims a baggage trolley and shoots off down the tunnel. Parental decision time: Do I shout loud enough for her rapidly diminishing form to hear me (as well as the rest of the airport) ? Or do I pretend that she is nothing to do with me? I choose the latter, and smile meekly at two dazed old ladies caught in the slipstream.

We stand at the baggage check as the teenagers loudly discuss the insurance scam they intend to pull off if the luggage has been lost. Apparently my daughter is carrying a diamond tiara. I turn my back on them and engage my wife in a meaningful discussion about the benefits of military schools. Then, for a brief moment, I find an advantage in having teenagers as our baggage appears on our trolley in a sudden burst of youthful enthusiasm. My daughter is only slightly disappointed not to have lost her tiara; she has decided that she would prefer to lose it on the return journey.

I check the assorted bags. “There’s one missing!” I exclaim.
“Which one?” Asks my wife, in wide eyed wonder.
“The small one that you told me to pack all my new stuff in.” I reply.
“Oh no!” Consoles my wife, in Oscar winning form. My loyal offspring snigger. I smell a rat. The baggage slips in our ticket match the luggage that we have. The bag was never checked in. My cool Hawaiian shirt is still sitting at home in the hall.

I mutter to myself, frowning at my grinning family. Round one to the family… let the Tenerife holiday begin!

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