In a Word . . . passport

As I arrived into Aldergrove airport, I realised – horror of horrors – I had left my passport in Dublin

 

It’s that time of year again when people become preoccupied with their passports as holidays draw near. Finding them. Renewing them. Fretting over them. As someone who travels a bit you’d imagine my passport and I would be inseparable. Not so. It has let me down badly on occasions.

One such example took place some years ago when I was at the end of my tether with exhaustion. I booked a last minute cheap holiday to the Canaries through Belfast.

As I arrived into Aldergrove airport with an English-accented taxi man weeping into my ear because his Falls Road wife wanted a divorce, I realised – horror of horrors – I had left my passport in Dublin. I felt like joining the taxi man in one long weep.

With nothing to lose I decided to attempt to persuade the woman on the check-in desk to allow me through (I know. I know. But I was demented with tiredness). Soon I realised that too was hopeless thanks to a young couple in front of me.

The girl had forgotten her passport but insisted her boyfriend go on without her and she would follow. Gallantly, he said he couldn’t do that. She insisted. Finally, he relented. And she bawled “. . . you’d leave me here like that.”

Both went back to get her passport.

By then I knew my goose was cooked, but myself and the woman at check-out had by then established an amused rapport as he, and she who would be obeyed, struggled to know what he would do.

The woman was most apologetic and promised me first standby on a flight out of Manchester about 36 hours later. Knowing no one in Belfast then and as it was very late, I “slept” on a bench at the airport.

The following morning I took the train to Dublin, got my passport (almost causing a flatmate and his girlfriend to have the first mutual cardiac arrests in history), got the ferry from Dún Laoghaire to Holyhead, the train to Crewe, changed for the train to Manchester, got to the airport where the US Superbowl was on, and slept there on an airport bench for the second night in a row.

When I got to the Canaries I slept for three whole days, only rising to eat.

Passport. From Middle French passeport, for “authorization to pass through a port”. From Latin passus, step

inaword@irishtimes.com

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