“I’ve left my passport on the plane.”
This was my conclusion after searching my bag and pockets to no avail. I had just landed in Helsinki airport but wasn’t too deterred as there were two attractive women sitting at the Finnair lounge just waiting to save my bacon. I placed my hat on the desk as though I was here to stay until the matter was resolved.
The lady at the desk was bewildered and then hypnotised me for a moment with her magnificent eyes, pool blue with a dark rim to frame the delicate light tones as though she’d gone round them with a pencil.
“……What?” She had asked me a question whilst I was swimming.
“Where did you fly from?” She looked up at me directly from her seat . I regained my composure.
“Leeds, uh, n…., Londo…., ah yes, Manchester.” My composure had failed me. “Yes, Manchester. I was seat 19 A.” Remembering my seat number immediately filled me with renewed confidence and I could not disguise my pride as a well deserved smirk crept from my mouth. “What is your name?” “Jamie Wardley” I remembered that OK. She smiled.
“Okay, we will need to find it or else you will not be able to get out of the airport, there is security just down the corridor, but then they won’t start cleaning the plane until later.” I was beginning to feel that I was to spend quite a bit of time in the company of this young lady for all the wrong reasons. She rummaged around her keyboard and then picked up the phone and began to babble in Finnish. She got up from her desk and was obviously trying to get hold of the right person, one of her contacts on the ground no doubt. She then began to pace up and down and I followed her with my eyes which wasn’t a chore. Occasionally she would give me a neutral glance as if to say all is under control. And then she went into the back office and everything changed. She came out pulling all kinds of faces which weren’t encouraging. There was a slight pause in her babbling so I took the opportunity to give more information:
“…..There was a newspaper on my seat and the passport will be under that.” This I was sure of.
“What was the newspaper?”
“It was the ….Daily Mail.” My memory was in overdrive, “In fact there may have been a book with it as well,” my god I was on a roll. Oh dear, I had left my book.
There was renewed hope in her voice at my new information but then this gradually faded away as she began to pull faces again accompanied by babbling, starring at me with those deep blue eyes as though I should understand something. This was not good. I began to fondle my hat still sat on the desk. There was a bar down the way. I had only 5 euros.
She pulled a face and with an apologetic grimace said “They cannot find your passport.” I mumbled an appropriate expletive under my breath at the thought of been an airport refugee, wandering around in the same underpants for weeks on end until a new passport could be issued; and only 5 euros to my name.
And then the other rather more humiliating possibility dawned on me. I could feel my bag next to my feet. ”….maybe I have it?” The girl looked at me with a tilted head expressing her thought that ‘maybe you do.’ I leant down and slowly unzipped a pocket. Three week old underpants and 5 euros were looking more and more appealing. I had already checked this pocket earlier and was now hoping not to find it. As I peeled back the fabric there was revealed a clutter of items, wallets, hard drives and a small burgundy book with the emblem of my protector her majesty the Queen of England plastered across it. Oh dear. I pulled it out and held it in my hand sheepishly.
By this time the girl with the pool blue eyes had come round my side of the desk and gave a roar of laughter, I indulged in a slight moment of humiliation and then shrugged off my shame and merrily joined in laughing at myself. I’m quite fortunate that I don’t dwell too much on my foolish mistakes as I make so many of them. Practice makes perfect I always say. Just before I made my farewells she checked me with her blue eyes for the last time. I paused to take in the moment and then realised that she was testing me to see if I would remember my straw hat neatly propped on the table. I had not. She took it and placed it on my head. “Welcome to Finland!” she said with delight and another roar of laughter. How to make an impression by JS Wardley.
I smiled my broadest smile, “Thank you very much.” I was back in my second home.
P.s A sculpture I have made since I’ve been here:)