Home sweet home?
Trip Start Sep 28, 2011
333Trip End Ongoing
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My $300 bottle of exclusive, celebration red wine (that I paid $40 for), from the best grape year in Mendoza of 2003 has been confiscated. I'm not allowed it though. I watch in horror as the little bastard controlling the x-ray machine takes it out of the gift box, marches over and slams it into the bottle bank. A US retail 300 dollar bottle of red that you cannot buy anywhere but the vineyard. I was beside myself with fury. "Can I get my shoes back?" I angrily exclaim, but the not so subtle sarcasm is lost on him. "Yes of course" comes his overly courteous response. I don't even get a rise when I call him a cunt. There's a tear in my eye as I turn away dejected, knowing full well there is nothing I can do about it. I had no room in my back pack and was assured I would get through by the wineries. Then again, they would say that wouldn't they?
In hindsight I should have taken it back off him and tanked it before I got on the plane. I never even got to taste it. It was the next level above the sample I did taste, and that was one of the best reds that have ever graced my lips. Writing this I'm still not properly over it. It's not like it was a bottle of shampoo; that's the most I've ever spent on a bottle of wine. It was meant to be special. Yet there is was, leaking out between broken glass in a bottle bank. Sad, sad times indeed.
Some time later we touch down in London and while I'm relieved to discover my ruck sack has made it, I've noticed my tennis trainers have been stolen from the webbing straps. I can only assume this was back in BA. Fair enough I suppose, I had no room for them inside and they were falling apart. Someone must be really desperate. I guess then need them more than I do. Still the list of stolen items grows ever larger on this round the world trip. I long to catch someone in the act.
Thoughts of shoes and wine are put asunder as the coach pulls away into England's green and pleasant land. There is a quote from T.S Elliot that reads a little something like this:
"We shall not cease from exploration! And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."
It seems a little apt here. While London never has nor never will be my home, it's outer towns and villages remind me of the England I grew up with. I'm surprised to note my love of hedgerows. I've not seen such greenery in months, and the lush colours hark back to bygone summers with scraped knees and stinging nettles. Town halls demand I join amateur dramatic groups, while street name signs blur to read Dearne Croft, Esk Gardens and Foxthill. I relish that I can understand the language again, and it's a joy to recognise uniquely British companies and shops. Even that annoying fat opera singer from the Go Compare commercial brings a smile to my face. I really have been away too long.
I suppose I could continue to wax lyrical about my return to the familiar, but the buck stops while out on the town later in a random Whetstone bar. I should quickly mention here that it was nice to see my sister and her husband, blah, blah, blah. Yet the day was tarnished by one short exchange in the local boozer, after a couple of beers in, chatting to some lad about where I'd just come from:
Me: I got this Alpaca hoodie in Bolivia.
Young cockney geezer: Yeah it's fahkin' 'orrible mate.
I allowed the comment to slip past, but it really did remind me of the ignorant English wanker, bothered about nobody but himself, loud, obnoxious, drunk and cocky. Both him and his buddy disappeared soon after, even when I'd gone in for a couple of rounds. Clearly my Bolivian dress sense wouldn't have made an impression at the party they'd previously suggested, so I walked home in the wind and rain shortly after, following my exclusion from a table of twenty somethings debating films and I'm left to rue a distinct lack of friendliness from my fellow Brits. Morgan Freeman's Azeem put it best in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves: "The hospitality in this country is as warm as the weather."