So, here we go again, once more traversing the continent, this time not so much jet-setting, more chugging along to the monotonous drone of propellers, a stone’s throw above the clouds. At least we are airborne now, having had the usual 2-hour delay that gets Fly-Maybe its’ well-appointed nickname. A drop into Southampton and a rearranged transfer flight won’t quite see me into Fife by nightfall. And there it was, that month of sleepless nights all done and dusted in the name of lambing. 18 new lives later, the poor creatures must wonder why they are born into a swamp, such has been the endurance of daily downpours. Maybe, were they blessed with enough intelligence, they would pin it on global warming, taking up their placards and following one another angrily in single-file towards the powers-that-be in their floral wellingtons. Thankfully sheep don’t all have a university education to bias their outlook on life into a blame and claim culture, unlike their human counterparts who are stealthily conditioned into the sheep-like mentality of complaint. They don’t have wellingtons either, sadly.
Anyway, it’s goodbye mud and wool, hello to brick-dust and the woolly-minded. It seems that our little project in East Fife has put an unwanted expandable ski-pole into the spokes of regression in these parts. Not content with having a superb and well equipped museum telling us all about the hey-days of the defunct fishing industry which was so prevalent in East Scotland, East Fife, and Cellardyke in particular, now wishes to revert the whole town back into the 19th century. Despite my reminders to faceless objectors that ‘nostalgia really is a thing of the past’, I anticipate my arrival back to the seaside will be met with pitchforks and banners demanding my head on a spike, because I dare to use modern materials in my renovation project instead of wattle-and-daub and barrel-tar. Honestly, I even have to keep the fire-place a certain size so a small child can be sent up it in case of an emergency blockage. Meanwhile, once the locals have swept down the cart-tracks, lit up the gas-lamps, retired to their plague-ridden hovels and donned their nightgowns, the irony of their hanging out flags of independence in a hope to become part of a progressive Europe passes comically over their historically blinkered heads. But I love them all the same - it is this very quaintness that attracts the likes of us bombastic outsiders, bringing with us our filthy lucre to dilute their wanton poverty.
Arrgh, I’m in Manchester. How did that happen? And, more importantly, how do I get out? Seemingly Flybe are sky-diving to new lows, diverting us weary travellers to nightmare destinations, and then leaving us there. As I write, after 3 delayed/cancelled flights, the smug departures board suggests that I will still make it to Edinburgh before eleven, but its recent track record isn’t great, so its booking-dot-com at the ready. Were I not so tired I would gracefully accept my defeat on this trip and make the most of it, perhaps fitting in a trip to the Trocadero for some late night dancing - is it still open, or was it burned down decades ago? I have to admit, this is a city I have deliberately avoided for 30 years, so I am not au fait with its recent geography nor its customs – but I believe it may be a hot contender for ‘tattoo central’ of UK. Eventually I reach Edinburgh at 30 minutes past midnight and check into a hotel, after an 11 hour journey. Not exactly the leisurely sort of Sunday I was looking for, and certainly not a scheduled overnight stop I had planned for in the underwear department!
And so, on my last leg of this epic adventure, I am now crossing the iconic Forth Bridge and entering the Kingdom by rail, backwards. A brief bit of business sorted out and a few moments to ponder, and I might still be on site by lunchtime, only a day late. And here’s what I am pondering. Why don’t people change their mobile phone messages from the generic, to a simple, ‘Hi, this is me, leave a message.’ Instead we get a patronising voice saying: ‘Welcome to Blahblah network mobile phone messaging service. The person you have called is not available to take your call at the moment (you don’t say?). Please leave a message and don’t forget to hang up afterwards as you obviously are a technically challenged numpty who hasn’t quite grasped the concept of mobile technology, despite it being around since the eighties.’ And then we get: ‘Or press hash for more options.’ More options? What other bl**dy options are there? I just phoned someone up to speak to them! Has anyone ever pressed hash for more options? Does option one send a fax, per chance, or order a pizza or dial the fire-brigade? Please folks, this is a plea, if you can’t be bothered to answer your phone, at least let people hear your voice so they know that it is really you that is ignoring them!