Home for Christmas – And now, Leaving

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Classes started yesterday, the 10th January 2011, but since my dog (my flatmate’s dog) managed to eat half of my passport the night before my flight to England for Christmas, I am returning to Barcelona tomorrow, Tuesday 11th January 2011, for when I booked a later flight, whilst waiting for my new passport to arrive (not by magic either – at a cost of £112.50, and painstaking form filling, passport photo acquiring… &c.). This date is better known to me as the magical 11-1-11 ! On my flight to England from Barcelona, I had concealed that Zeta had gnawed off the top right hand corner of my passport (of every single page, so the shape had changed of the travel document) by putting it into a passport case on my flight here. I went through three checks in the Barcelona Aiport (Terminal 2) unscrutinised, since I had been cunning with the concealing of it. Only at the final check before going to the boarding lounge (might not be called that, I’m not very good at flying, never know what to do or where to go) was I asked “Where were you born” (in Spanish) and I was flustered and could barely respond, “Reino Unido”, to a response of “Oh, Peterborough, I’ve not heard of that place”, and I thought “oh no, I gave the wrong place!” befor saying “it is not a very interesting place” and he said “well no, surely not, that’s not possible” and I ushered myself out, round and down the escalators. I met a lovely family from New Zealand, who I chatted with happily, calming my airport/travel fears, until the delayed flight was boarding. We were lucky it was only delayed, what with all the end-of-the-world cold weather, snow, frost, bitter winds, in England. A kind lady who sat next to me on the flight had had a stressed holiday because of this but she calmed down and we had a lovely flight, chatting away about things like travel, studies, grandchildren… She was travelling with her mother who insisted on getting me some food. I chose an egg sandwich and a cup of tea (which was Starbucks – on the plane!? What a business they are). Landing in Doncaster, it was there I met with stern voices and a furrowed brow, since everyone had to take out their passport from its case, ready for inspection. I waited in the winding queue with excitement and hope – I’d made friends on the flight so I was not so scared as I could have been. I suppose Spain had hardened me – in the worst scenario, I was already in England and they would tell me whatever was the case in ENGLISH:

Me: [Handing over passport] My dog ate my passport.

Man: They let you through on this ?

Me: Yep.

Man: And, where is your dog now?

Me: Well, it’s my flatmate’s dog, it’s still in Barcelona.

I don’t remember more details. I enquired about where I could get a new passport, he mentioned a fast-track service in Liverpool (there turned out to be one closer to home, in Peterborough City Centre), and said nothing more as he handed me back my ‘passport’ and I walked past the many officials not knowing what to do with my face, should I smile? (I’d look like a criminal then..) I was certainly pleased but tried to restrain myself. All was well.

A friend met me and the whole trip played out like a movie. We had a coffee in the airport and I revelled in being British again, like a spinning top with falling ribbons and confetti. I spent a fun night in Doncaster and returned home through the bitter cold the next day, clutching a gingerbread coffee from Costa on the train platform with my friend, who stayed with me, in the cold, til the delayed trains finally let one through for my homeward bound final leg.

Tomorrow the return journey begins. I have an assignment due in tomorrow I am painstakingly completing now. I had wanted to spend more of this time with my family, but I’d not had a chance to finish (or start) this in the day. I have 5 more essays to do, one is almost complete, just needs an improved conclusion; the others just need time and grace. They are not due in tomorrow, but need to be finished sharpish. The loose topics of the essays (all due in approximately the same time, when I suspect I will also have exams):

– Donne and Marvell – “embroilment in action”

– The success of the adaptation of Heart of Darkness in the movie Apocalypse Now

– Hero/witness in War literature – With Goodbye to Berlin & Slaughterhouse 5 (Novels)

– On A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Contemporary Novels

– Something on India, perhaps on Passage to India

I don’t especially want to return, I am looking forward to writing the essays and then finishing them, preferably enjoyably so that it is not drawn out, and painful. The library at UAB is only open til 9pm, which is good and bad. I have had bad experiences with libraries, though this one is better. Here, I have walked smack bang into the glass door of the printer room – and not discreetly – and was not allowed to take out books when I tried to leave at 9.02pm one night. There had been too many people in the library, and I’d been having trouble concentrating, and printing correctly. With their strange scanner that is used for ALL printing, I almost printed off the entire scanner’s log (because one sends one’s work to the scanner and then selects for printing – but I had selected the whole log by accident), and had one card eaten, or lost, and the other, decimated of money. But I will face new attempts with courage. I just don’t like the library, which is a shame.

My new passport had arrived on Wednesday; it has birds on it. I hope something exciting happens with it tomorrow, and I wonder what my teachers say when they see the half-eaten old one.

I will go now, to return soon, hopefully. I keep forgetting the password for this, and I keep forgetting where to find the LOG IN button, but I endeavour to return sooner rather than later. Til then, goodbye.

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