Monday, 20 August 2007

Jolly Hols

I was jolted out of my doze on the train to Katowice when some guy got on at a provincial station and started lurching up and down the aisle with a large hold-all crying:
- 'Cold beer, ladies and gentlemen, cold beer!'
It was nine thirty in the morning.

Travelling in Poland is fun: I've now got to the stage where I can ask questions and understand an average of one word in every seven. My current strategy is to say of course, yes, fine, and smile and nod to give the frantically spinning cogs and gears in my head time to fill in the rest of what the sentence might have been. Then I march off following the approximate trajectory indicated by the ticket lady, faking an air of confidence. This usually wastes about half an hour based on the time it would have taken me if I'd simply asked in English.

I flew Lufthansa again and changed in Frankfurt. This time was not nearly as satisfactory. No Toblerone or Bombay Sapphire gin. But, bizarrely, sparkling wine. Again I had to run to catch my connection: not because of any misunderstandings (or alcoholic stupor), but because I was just getting to the exciting bit in Harry Potter and my hearing suddenly became selective.

Given the amount of trouble that book has got me into so far, I thought it expedient to leave it in capable hands in St Andrews.

Walking around the town early on Thursday morning, I had to agree with the school of opinion which reckons St Andrews has a decent amount in common with Hogwarts. Did I really attend the School of Modern Languages? Or was it the Faculty for Tongues and Incantations? How much easier would my life be now if I'd only taken a module or two in wand-flicking:
Textboxium auto-formattiarmus!
Recordio vocabulem slavonicus!
Accio synonym-for-'in terms of'!
It would also go some way towards explaining why I always walk into pillars at Kings Cross Station (or any station for that matter). Even without a nine thirty cold beer break.

Oddly, while in St A, four and a half months of being landlocked in Central Europe hit me, and I found myself demonstrating premature mad-old-biddy behaviour on the beach. An oddly physical need for the sea and water (as if we didn't get enough of it in Krakow last weekend) found me inhaling the scent of the stones on the pier (and then pretending to be scrutinising them for a lost contact lens to avoid embarassment in the face of early-morning dog walkers) and sloshing through the breakers on West Sands, under cover of drizzle. Thank goodness there are plenty of places to get hot chocolate and scones in town.
And thank goodness for my sister's oh-so-normal lovely flat in Edinburgh, and bad Chinese takeaway and home-made sex on the beach (there's a reason- I had forgotten- why I haven't touched Archers since I was seventeen).

My beloved spaniel and I were briefly reunited: I was assigned to the sofa on Wednesday night and she considerately curled up at around the level of my knees, forcing me to fold myself into a sort of zig-zag position, like someone trying to sleep across the armrests at Stansted Airport (now where did that image come from?).
Still, for a fellow neurotic old bitch I'm prepared to make some allowances...

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