Nick’s Barmy Wales Trip in the Baking Baku Heat

18 Jun

Back at the flat, the following morning, I packed up the last of my things, showered and got myself going. I booked a Bolt to the airport with good time. About halfway there, there was a hold up of about twenty minutes for no apparent reason. This meant I was one of the last of the Wonky Sheep lot to arrive. No worries I thought. I was given my bloody negative Corona result. The queue for boarding passes took quite some time, but when it was my turn, someone just quickly checked my passport and I was waved through, which was a relief as I wasn’t sure if I’d properly completed my “Passenger Location Form” because I’d had a problem with the form the night before.

Contemplated a quick McDonald’s but didn’t bother, had a very quick check for a brand of brandy a friend had wanted me to try and get called Ararat. He reckoned it was Azerbaijani, but I’d already been told it was from Armenia, who Azerbaijan had recently been engaged in a war with so pretty fkn unlikely I was going to find it on sale here. Considered buying a drink, but I only had a couple of manat left, so I thought I might as well keep these as sort-of souvenirs. I had hoped to speak to Huw and Laura, just to say goodbyes, perhaps offer to stay in touch. But we were all quite quickly ushered on to the plane.

I took my seat at the back again. After about an hour, I got up and offered Huw and Laura one of my two physical tickets. I was a bit surprised that they didn’t seem too bothered about having it. I was about to give them one of my fiskbook cards as well, just so they’d have my email address in case they wanted to stay in touch, but one of the air stewards said I should sit down.

So I thought I’d leave exchanging details to the baggage reclaim in Cardiff and just listened to a bit of music most of the way. Read some more of the second issue of the Alternative Wales magazine, which is quite a well put together magazine.

We were at last back in Wales. I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to be back to be honest, what with the fkn isolation thing and all that nonsense. At least the June 21 date had been put back for whatever reason, which in a way I was glad of so I didn’t have to worry about missing parties in London etc but I can’t for the life of me see what the delay was intended for.

Anyway, I was just thinking, or hoping, that the form I hadn’t quite filled in completely wasn’t going to be a problem. Why I had not made certain that I got this sorted for definite, I have no idea. I quickly checked it on my phone, and now I could see that it said “Incomplete”, which it had not done before, and it appeared, where there hadn’t been, there was a way of accessing the second screen to continue completing the form. I could not believe it. Everybody else – literally, I expect I was the only one – it seemed had somehow or other completed this stupid form. I was nearing the customs official and as I still had not completed the form while in the queue. I was going to have to hope that he’d let me through by just showing my passport, as had happened in Azerbaijan.

This Welsh guard insisted I needed to show a completed form. I had paid the £170 to have the two additional tests on return for Christ’s sake. I had paid an extortionate amount for the privilege of having to stay in my own home for two weeks. And just because the stupid Government website hadn’t worked for me the night before, I could not immediately get through customs. He made me sit down to one side to try and complete it. I had to find some bloody code that was on another form. This form had four different codes on it. I had to hunt around for my reading glasses. I tried three of the four codes. They weren’t being very helpful. One of the passport officials offered to get me a tablet if I couldn’t read it properly on my phone. I did not need to be patronised, I informed her.

I finally found the code – actually at the top of the other form which I’d scrolled down looking through, and I was finally let through the security. Everyone had left. There was just my solitary bag there. I had not even got to say goodbye and to talk about staying in touch with Huw and Laura. Well, maybe they wouldn’t have wanted to. I had been a bit of an idiot at times. But I don’t know, I thought we’d hit it off okay. I was just angry, more with myself than anything, that on a trip that for the most part I’d enjoyed, I’d conspired to make things more difficult and worse for myself.

Well, at least my dad was there. He’d panicked that I hadn’t even made the flight. He then had a slight concern about paying a fine of £50 due to waiting an hour I think. It just seems like everywhere and everything in this country is designed around extracting money from people. The complete opposite in Azerbaijan, which I expect is not such a wealthy country, but one where people are relaxed and often refuse offers of money when it’s not needed.

And so then I got home to contemplate ten days of solitary confinement. I swear, I felt like going on hunger strike. So much for being returning heroes.


Footnote: One bit of good news – at least via Dave of Wonky Sheep, who forwarded my email address, I am back in touch, and now facebook friends with Huw and Laura.

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