Yeah right, by ship, BigFoot

2012-07-23 10:24

I’ve developed this fear of flying. Actually, that’s not strictly correct. I love flying, but it’s airports that are starting to make my palms sweat.

This weird feeling started last December. My sister – a school principal with way more university degrees than brains and an appalling taste in men – decides to embark on a second career as a cocaine mule.

Apparently she and hubby number two, a science teacher with a taste for other people’s money and an aversion to paying his gambling and devil’s dandruff debts, had run up some serious owings with members of a West African yeyo mob operating out of Glenwood.

The Ginger Genius, rather than doing the right thing and walking away and leaving them to take a blowtorch to hubby number two’s gonads, decides she’s going to save the day.

From a suburban mommy she’s suddenly Johnny Depp in Blow.

Off she trundles to São Paolo, allegedly to study education in the favela (although the education department thought she was burying my uncle in Belfast who’s still very much alive and not very pleased at being ‘killed’ by his niece).

Two days later she merrily waltzes into Heathrow, arguably the hottest airport on the planet, with six kilos of gear ingeniously (we’re told) impregnated in a suitcase full of towels.

Needless to say, that all worked very well for the poor man’s Manuel Noriega and she’s currently doing a five-year stretch in Bronzefield, the UK’s first purpose-built, privatised prison.

Airports 1 – Harpers 0.

Fast-forward till last Wednesday. My parents, who usually won’t leave their own front garden – except for my mom’s punting expeditions – have sold up lock stock and barrel and are emigrating for the second time.

They’re on a mission to get my sister out on early parole. We say our tearful goodbyes. This stuff is really painful.

My younger son, Small James, takes them to the airport because we can’t all fit in the car.

My nephew Cuddles, the yeti-sized (redheaded, I’m sad to admit) spawn of the Ginger Genius, takes up too much space.

Small James is halfway home when his mobile rings. It’s my mom. They’ve been turned back at immigration because there’s an issue with their papers.

They tried to leave on their Irish passports, which is no longer permissible. They’re going nowhere.

Airports 2 – Harpers 0.

The would-be geriatric globetrotters are looking kind of sheepish when they turn up at my spot.

Slowly we start to see the funny side of it and by the time the Red Scum take on AmaZulu, it’s giggle city.

This stuff should be in a movie, not in my life.

The next morning’s a mad blitzkrieg of begging, arguing, threatening and hustling. Home Affairs coughs up three emergency passports within an hour.

The travel agent (okay, I did make some really nasty threats about the cost of bad publicity and promise a blood feud against their families for generations to come) provides new tickets free of charge.

Then they’re off to King Shaka International. Somehow the airport gods are sleeping on duty and they make it through via Dubai and Birmingham to Belfast.

I get a Wassap from Cuddles, wanting to know when I’m coming to visit. I respond: “Yeah right, by ship, BigFoot.’’

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