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It was bound to happen eventually. Indeed it is what one gets for being smug.  Oscar Wilde’s definition of a selfish person is one who having plentiful corns and bunions themselves, stands all over other peoples’ feet. A smug person is one who, having the bare minimum of hand luggage, struts about the airport muttering, ‘That ain’t no hand luggage. It’s a jumbo trunk,’ full apologies to the Jazz Singer, about all those laboriously wheeled jumbo trunks.  

I mean, I am fed up getting half my leg knocked off, my ankles run over, my temples banjoed by jumbo trunks. And, if the steel-edged smiles and grunts of some of the cabin crew….indeed the little contretemps in row 21, flight blippity blip, the other day…. are anything to go by, I’m not entirely sure I’m alone. Those quite Spartan hand-luggage restrictions that existed in the weeks after the Glasgow airport attack, certainly made for faster, banjo-free boarding.  Why, oh why do people do this?

 Well, the answer was obvious really as we arrived in Rome last week with no baggage.  ‘Yes. But where is your baggage?” the older daughter texted. ‘On a carousel at Amsterdam,’ I messaged back. Perhaps it wasn’t these words exactly. There may have been a picturesque mention of some tulips with the carousel, Amsterdam being famous for them and myself being a little tired, not to mention emotional.  But I think you get the drift. As to how….how…the older daughter is very fond of treading in places untrampled by angels…. She had a point.  

 When I think of the places and the situations, we have travelled in and lugged baggage through, the trains, the planes, the boats, ferries, hydrofoils, donkey-carts, taxis, trailers, the aforementioned Glasgow airport, just after the attack,  scrammies at Athens, the time we were nearly put, by mistake,  on a plane to Beirut – all I could say was in this one, the airline said they would transfer the cases.  Did I say our recent trip to York was uneventful? What a mistake. Now, standing there at Rome airport, with my nice little handbag and not a lot else, I understood the value and importance of the jumbo trunk.

I understood it even better the next day having mistakenly brushed my teeth firstly, with the Alitalia shaving foam, and then the Alitalia wash gel on the Alitalia toothbrush we had been given, prior to tramping the many miles to the Sistine Chapel in my non Alitalia high heeled boots.  My contracted book is set in Genoa, so I tried to be happy about it, even imagining my hero and heroine doing much the same. Although as this was in 1820, well before Alitalia’s time, this was hard. Flint, being a privateer would just have lifted someone else’s bags for a start.

 However, the baggage had been removed from the carousel in Amsterdam…lucky it… and was now on its way to our hotel. There were one or two other drop offs first.

Anyway, just as I was lying there in an advanced  state of shock, thinking these must have been in Timbuktu, and wondering if it was possible to wear my top, perhaps back to front, or indeed do something with the rubbish bin liner – friend Irene, what did you once say about that? –  tie my scarf in some daringly exotic way, or entirely redesign the Alitalia t. shirt, by tearing holes in it with my freshly laundered teeth – where were the scissors after all? Voila…una  knock on the door. Le baggage had indeed arrived.

 

     (The Spanish Steps avec the shaving foam enhanced smile…not to mention the newly, especially purchased flat shoes.)

When I looked in the case I couldn’t help thinking how like writing a book it was. I mean does anyone think I seriously set out to tramp the Vatican museum in high heeled boots? Not in their right mind they wouldn’t. Me neither.  I had little flat shoes for that.

In writing you equip for the journey, in that you have an idea and you may even have a plan. You see this. You see that. But what happens when your story ends up like the baggage. Circling the carousel, or going off course in the back roads, because something changed? Do you stick rigidly, insisting on the plan? Or do you cut and fashion, watching to see what happens, hoping it will all come out right in the end and that just maybe you will have something better? Praying it won’t be worse?

The chapter one I see, is never the chapter one I write. I tell it no, no. But it goes its own way anyway, leaving me a ton of pieces to pick up by chapter three. A bit like the baggage this trip. And, while next time I fully plan on going with the flow and taking a jumbo trunk….who knows what way the flow might go.

  …………it could have been worse, the baggage could have gone round this place…..and been eaten by lions.