Last week, Mrs P and I managed to escape the country for four blissful nights in Malta. The weather was glorious, so we didn’t need to pack much. Some shorts, t-shirts, sandals, toothbrush, sun cream, passports and my camera. We got our hotel and unpacked. Toiletries in the bathroom, clothes stayed in the suitcases to be used as needed. The passports and camera were popped into the safe. Which is where they all stayed until we packed our bags again a few days later.
I’ve not used my camera much this year, but I think this is the first time I’ve gone on a holiday and just not used it at all. Quite frankly, I can’t be bothered with lugging it around. My iPhone takes pretty decent images, and more and more of the time I’m happy with the photos I get from that. There’s a graph out there waiting to be drawn, balancing the effort I am willing to put in and quality I am willing to accept. I clearly now spend most of my time on the ‘can’t be bothered’ side of the curve. Shall we call it the Mexile Curve?
The sad thing is that I foolishly economised when buying a new iPhone last September. I bought the standard iPhone 12 and not the Pro version with the better camera. I’ve regretted it all year. The good news is that on Friday I will be able to put that mistake right. The most significant upgrade for the iPhone 13 Pro is the camera module. It’s magnificent. I think I can hear my Fuji XT20 quietly sobbing to itself in the darkness of the back of the drawer.
Once upon a time, a short break to somewhere nice in Europe, or perhaps even North Africa, was a doddle. Even New York or Boston were doable three or four night getaways. There were plenty of cheap flights and hotels. Pack a small bag, double check you’ve got your passport and toothbrush and off you go. I have spent decades mastering the art of the shoestring short break.
Those days are gone, for now. Short breaks are still possible, of course. But they’re not the doddle they once were. As I type this, I am aboard a RyanAir flight from Bournemouth to Malta for a five day holiday. I have a window seat on the left hand side of the plane. A window seat is the best. It gives you a window on the world, tens of thousands of feet below. Or, given that we are still in U.K. airspace, a view of the sunny side of the constant cloud cover.
A holiday in 2021 is far from the easy, stress free process of yore. The good old days do seem so long ago that we can refer to them as ‘yore’. The aggravation starts with the raft of new rules and regulations. Do the Maltese require a Covid test for entry? Most countries do, but happily Malta are one of the exceptions. If you’ve been double jabbed then come on in. They are strict on jabs though. No jab, no entry.
I do have to wear a mask in the airport and on the flight. Five or six hours of mask wearing is a bit tiresome. But it’s not an entirely unreasonable request, nor is it a great hardship. But it is a little annoying. You’d not wear one for fun. But it’s a small price to pay for a view from a window on the world. Are those the Alps I can now see? They must be.
I had to complete a Maltese digital passenger locator form, to be both submitted and printed. I’ll have to do the same when I come back for U.K. Border Force. And despite being double jabbed, I will need tests to re-enter the U.K. one just before we fly back and another within two days of landing. It’s a farce, probably designed to put people off travel as much as it is to prevent spread of Covid. The cost of the tests? A total of £160 for the pair of us. The return flights could be had for £29.99…
There are other types of stress to cope with in the run up to the trip. Hard stares have been dished out to everyone and anyone who has dared to sniff, sneeze, cough or snort within my presence for the last week. By ‘hard stare’, I do of course mean a look that clearly conveyed a sincere wish that they were dead already. Then there’s the matter of my own health. Is that a headache I feel coming on? Is that just tiredness from the run of early shifts at work? Or is it.….you know.
But one must keep things in perspective. Mrs P and I have our health and we are getting a trip away, and we are grateful for that. It’s third time lucky for this particular holiday, originally booked for March 2020 and then rearranged in vain for October of last year. It’s a year and a half late, but better late than never. The new queues, bits of paperwork and whatnot will be suffered with a smile.
It’s nice being able to look down at the world from an airplane window once again. We’re over Sicily now, little more than a half hour away from our destination. I’ve already read my digital paper so I shall now watch the second part of a new National Geographic documentary on 9/11 on my iPad. It’s a further reminder that no matter how inconvenient things may sometimes seem, they could always be worse.
Nearly twenty years ago, a whole load of people with their own window on the world, and a whole load of people in the Windows on the World, had it much, much worse. The captain on my plane has just announced we land in ten minutes. The plan is to do so using the landing gear and a tarmac runway, which is always my preferred method.
Another month, another batch of images. Another thirty one snap shots, which will one day form fond memories. There’s a screenshot in there, to mix things up a little. It’s a tweet, from a royal twit. Laurence Fox comes from a famous acting family, but he’s rather sullied the family name. He attracted attention when he appeared on the Beeb’s Question Time a couple of years ago. He had a bit of a meltdown, to say the least.
He’s antivax, anti lockdown, anti-woke, anti kneeling, anti decency, anti common sense, pro bigotry. He killed his acting career so has now ventured into politics, running in the recent election for London Mayor. He scored less than 2% of the vote, finishing just ahead of an anti Semitic podcaster and Count Binface. And yet, he remains in the limelight, thanks to both nefarious funding and a growing ‘white victim’ audience.
He recently posted a photo of a black Premier League footballer who had just been arrested for rape, with the comment ‘Get kneeling f*ckers’. He was censured by Twitter and berated by the online community at large for what was clearly a racist gesture. My screenshot of a tweet was part of his response to being ‘censored’, insisting that it was only disguised as racism and actually, it meant somethingelse entirely. Or so he attempted in vain to excuse his bigotry. He is the flag bearer of the right wing, free speech, anti-woke brigade. The mind boggles.
The extreme fringes of society are supposed to be sparsely populated. The election results in London suggests that that holds true, although the digital world would have us believe otherwise.