Laurence Inman has been away – not so far from Olympia – and returns to find he should have stayed there.
Exactly fifteen days.
Fortunately I spent only fourteen days in the glorious, fortune-kissed Mani, the shimmering, turquoise Messenian Gulf. One more day after that, I know, and I would have ceased to see any point in holidays. Three weeks and I would have seen no point in the universe.
We flew out with our chums from Muswell Hill. We also met some new people, a charming couple from Vienna called Helmut and Eva. Helmut is a computer expert and Eva writes books on advanced mathematics. We taught them Bridge, which they swore they’d never played before. They thrashed us; by lunchtime on the second day they were ranked 179th in the world. Perhaps we should be a little more thorough about things in this country.
I was musing on this as I shuffled through passport control at Gatwick last Sunday, and didn’t notice the bangs, whistles, sirens, red lights and cymbal crashes which accompanied my re-entry to GB.
A hand lightly touched my elbow.
‘Excuse me sir,’ said a quiet voice. ‘Would you mind coming with me for a moment ?’
‘Are you selling something ?’
‘Is it a questionaire ?’
‘Just a couple of questions sir.’
He sat me down in a little office.
‘I’m afraid you were flagged up on FLUFFY sir.’
‘FLUFFY ? What’s that ?’
‘If I had a pound for every time I’ve been asked that sir, and yet I can never remember the whole thing. Frontline something something flying eye….’
‘A spy satellite ?’
‘In a sense sir.’
‘Am I on it ?’
‘Oh yes, sir, you are. Do you remember playing Bridge with a German couple in Greece last week ?’
‘They were Austrian.’
‘And do you recall discussing an article from the Daily Telegraph newspaper ?’
‘About security staff being ordered to confiscate crisps from people if they weren’t brands by officially sanctioned sponsors ? Sir ?’
‘I want a lawyer.’
‘And you laughed about it, didn’t you, sir ? You held it up to ridicule sir. With these Austrians sir.’
He leaned towards me.
‘These are un-Olympic activities sir.’
‘Contrary to part five, sub-section 8(b) of the Emergency Olympic Powers Act 2012 sir.’
‘What will I get ?’
‘Oh don’t worry sir. We’re not monsters in the Olympic Thought Advisory Service. You won’t be transported to the Falklands for ten years.’
He flicked through a little booklet.
‘Ooh, I tell a lie….’