After I made the decision to get back to get straight back to Stonehenge for the Vernal Equinox…. well…. as straight as is possible when your circumnavigating the world by plane, train and automobile…. and in the hope of not bumbing into John Candy going the wrong way!!!! 🙂 …….. I literally left straight away!!! I’d been writing in my digs for several weeks….
The digs I’d been given when I’d accepted an apple picking job, but after a few days of picking, and hearing on the radio news that the British Home Secretary, Jack Straw, had announced his intention to introduce “National Identity Cards” in the United Kingdom, I simply couldn’t focus on the job of picking apples as I – along with many other free and liberty loving Britons – had other intentions…. I can tell you!!!! I’d heard that bulletin around lunchtime and for the rest of the day, while climbing up and down ladders or using a mechanical picking machine, that’s all I could think about…. what the fuck was happening to my country?!!!! I weren’t having it or standing for that kind fascism, along with most other Britons, in my country!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I felt compelled to do something…. but what? …. What the fuck could I do?….. I could write….. I could continue writing about these adventures because they were relevant to that issue….. and so for the rest of the day, that’s what I felt compelled to do and by the end of it I knew I’d picked my last apple.
I explained myself to the owner…. the guvnor!!! 🙂 ….. at the end of the working day and he was so understanding “Sometimes you’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do” is all he said and he allowed me to keep renting a room from him at the same low rent and he even lent me his mountain bike so that I could cycle into Moteoka whenever I needed to!!!! 🙂 Bloody Kiwi’s man….. I swear…. they’re the salt of the Earth and I find it so bloody hard to fault anyone of them that I’ve ever bloody met!!!! 🙂 Will you all stop being so nice already!!!!! 🙂 Only joking!!!! 🙂 You carry right on…. good and proper!!!! 🙂
….. and I was on the bus within an hour or so and heading for Nelson!!!! 🙂 I arrived in the late afternoon, sorted out a hostel and then went on the internet to arrange my travel to Wellington from there. I’d heard about the possibility of a direct flight on a small seater plane, across the channel from the South Island to Auckland, and, seeing as I felt like I was in such a rush, seeing as it would save some time going “around the houses” by bus and ferry to Wellington and seeing as I felt like I fancied the adventure of travelling that way anyway…. I booked it no matter what the cost was!!!…. and although it was a lot more expensive it wasn’t terribly expensive….. so it was all good…. I was flying man!!!! 🙂
That popped out on the town that evening, met a couple of Kiwi birds, whom made me feel very welcome and at home, and we had a bit of a craic…. but the nights always end early in Kiwiland, and it was lucky because I had a reasonably early start in the morning and I couldn’t risk missing my plane!!!!
And it was a great experience going to the small airport and catching that small aircraft with only a small amount of people…. It was just me and a couple of other passengers!!!! J What was really funny, though, was that when you checked in…. to the small check in area…. of the small hanger…. at the small airport…. they put your luggage on a small trolley, and then they wheel your luggage, on that small trolley with small wheels, across to the small plane, and then they put your luggage in a small holding place on the small aircraft…. and while all this is being done you’re walking right next to the small trolley, on its small wheels, being wheeled across to the small holding area on the small aircraft….. and…. all of that short while….. while you’re walking that short distance with the small trolley…… you’re thinking to yourself…. “Well…. I could have bloody done that!!!!” 🙂
Anyways, insane rules and regulation rules aside, the flight was awesome!!!! I really got to see some amazing sights and the ticket was certainly worth its price!!!! 🙂 It was definitely the best way to travel back to Wellington and a great way to see more of New Zealand in the process. What was a bit disturbing, though, was seeing some areas around the most northern part of the South Island that had been forested and harvested for trees. The area looked completely barren and even the untrained eye could see the desolation caused because of continued soil erosion. From the air it looked as if the land was failing to recover and, quite frankly, it looked like an alien landscape and not something you expected to see in New Zealand. But, desolation aside, it was a great journey and I was so very pleased that I’d gone with my gut feeling and not taken into consideration the health of my bank balance!!!! 🙂 And I was back in Wellington in next to no time!!!
As soon as I got into the city I made a beeline for the British Airways/Quantus office so I could sort out my air travel back to the other side of the world….. Wellington -Tahiti – LA – Vancouver – London!!!! 🙂 I was hoping that I may even be able to get I may even be able to fly to Tahiti that evening of even afternoon!!!! Things seemed already to be going my way and so I felt confident. Anyway, I tracked down the office and it still hadn’t opened yet so I waited outside, even more confident because it meant I would be the first customer of the day and should give me ample time to get everything sorted for the completion of my circumnavigation!!!! I tell you what…. Captain Cook would have been proud of my endeavour!!!! 🙂 ….. Fucking hell!!!!….. that’s such a “dad” joke!!!! 🙂 …… but fuck it…. I’m leaving it in!!!!!!! 🙂 ……. Oh….. and for all those unfortunate Souls whom have suffered the crippling historical and intellectual effects of a dumbed-down “modern” education…… one of the ships of explorer/navigator Captain Cook was called “Endeavour” and it was Captain Cook whom first mapped the coast of New Zealand…… (In fact his maps were so accurate that they are still used as reference today and he is, arguably, the greatest map maker in the history of humanity…… I fucking Love the geezer!!!!!! What a Legend!!!!! 🙂 )….. and if you didn’t know any of that best get yourself down the library, borrow some books and start educating yourself!!!! 🙂 With Much Love!!! 🙂
So the door opens, the BA/Quantus staff bid me a fine morning as they welcome me in and I approach the counter with my “Around The World” – not With Willy Fogg but Within A Year – Ticket already to go and be “sorted” unto its completion!!!! 🙂 …… And I hand it over, to the lovely lady, giving me a lovely smile, behind the lovely counter and I say “Can I arrange my flights back to England on my “around the world” ticket, please?” and she replies, with her lovely smile and with a lovely tone “Of course you can, Sir” and she takes the ticket while I smile while enjoying the pleasure of all the loveliness!!!! 🙂 But then….. Oh My God!!!!…… as she looked at my ticket her expression suddenly changed to that of concern and she said “I sorry, Sir, but it appears that you’ve missed all your flights.”
“What?!!!!” I replied, completely confused, “How could I have missed all my flights? I haven’t used them and I’m here?” I continued. She then showed me the ticket and pointed to the dates of the flights which were all lined-up, one after the other, on consecutive days in the first 10 days of February…. we were now in the first 10 days of March!!!! As she showed them to me I said “Yeah, but they’re fictitious dates, so what’s the problem?” Her expression then went from “concerned” to “very concerned” and she said “No, Mr. Miller, those dates were real, they were real flights and you’ve missed them.”
“WHAT THE FUUUUUUCCCCKKKKK!!!!!!” I thought, as my expression went from “confused” to “extremely confused”!!!! 🙂
“What do you mean they were real? I was told by the agent when I booked the ticket that the flight dates he was putting on the ticket were all fictitious and that I didn’t need to worry about them. He told me that he had to enter dates for the flights so that the ticket could be recorded on the system, but they didn’t matter as all I had to do was inform the airline of my intended days of travel when I chose to use them.” I explained. “No, you were meant to change the dates of the flights before you were due to take them” she replied, while trying to explain. “Well, if that was the case, then why wasn’t I informed when I booked my flight from Sydney to Wellington? That was on 28th January, so why didn’t the British Airways staff, in Sydney, inform me that I needed to change the rest of the “February” flight dates when I changed the Australia – New Zealand connecting flight from what I was told was the “fictitious” date of 5th February to the “real” date 28th January? Why didn’t the staff then advise me that the following flight dates on the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th February needed to be changed too?” I asked, while beginning to panic!!!! 🙂 “I don’t know, Sir” the lovely lady said….. while beginning to panic too!!!!! 🙂
“I actually questioned the guy I booked the ticket with on this and he did use the word “fictitious” to explain; and using the word “fictitious” implies that the flight dates don’t really exist” I continued to deliver my case!!!! “That does appear to be unfortunate wording” she expressed “No, Maam, that’s not unfortunate wording that’s an information directive. I was informed that the status of the flight dates were fictitious – and the word fictitious means “unreal” – and I was directed that I didn’t need to worry about those “fictitious” dates and only needed to change them when I chose to travel” I explained. “Also….” I added “….. if the flight dates were “real” then why did the agent book them all together at the beginning of February and not at the beginning of June, just before my ticket expired?”
To be fair, she didn’t argue with me and appeared to completely believe my testimony…. because it was true!!!! 🙂 ….. and she also appeared to not be able to comprehend how this had happened either. There was more as well because, although I could see that she was on my side, I also saw in her eyes that she had no idea how this matter was going to be resolved…. and if it was…. then it appeared that it was going to be bloody difficult!!!!! 🙂 “I’m so sorry about this, Mr. Miller, I understand what you’re saying and I’ll have to see what we can do about it.” She sympathised and caringly explained “If you’ll just take a seat and wait, I’ll go and consult my manager.”
With that she headed directly into a back office and I went to sit down, panicking, because I only, just about, had enough money to get home and not enough money to pay for another ticket too, but I also felt very reassured that at least I wasn’t being dismissed out of hand….. I had everything crossed….. even my eyes were crossed at that point!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂
I went to sit down and as I waited I could see a hive of “activity” behind the scenes, but none of the staff either looked at me or spoke with me…. so I waited some more. After more than half an hour the lady finally came over to inform and acknowledge me, but her expression of concern hadn’t departed her “Mr. Miller” she began “At the moment it’s not good news. This is proving to be a very difficult matter to resolve because, as it stands, British Airways officially regards your ticket as expired and you have no cause for recourse…. but we’re working on it….” she thankfully added!!!! 🙂 …. “In order to resolve it we’re going to need some authorisations and we’re also having to work directly with the British Airways Head Office in London, which, with the time difference, is making the situation even more problematic. At this stage, we cant promise you anything, but I can tell you that we are going to do our best for you…… but it’s going to take some time.”
She explained that it might be best if I went off and did something during the day and returned later, but I couldn’t go anywhere. I couldn’t focus on anything and all I felt to do was stay right there, in and by the office, and wait until I had an answer one way or the other. So that’s what I did, and in between the kind staff supplying me with copious amounts of tea, I waited…. in the office…. and in the street outside. I didn’t eat anything all day, I couldn’t, I just wasn’t hungry and in fact I actually felt a bit nauseous such was my unabating feeling of stress. I just zoned out… bewildered.
During the day one of the staff members had asked me what – if they could get authorisation – new dates would I like on the ticket? I thought about it and we went through them one by one, but then she told me that I couldn’t get on a flight to Tahiti for two weeks because they were fully booked and the best bet, if I wanted to get back to Stonehenge for the Equinox, was to go via Fiji as those flight dates would work out. I was gutted at the thought of not being able to get to Tahiti. After reading about Captain Cook’s visits to those Islands, and with Captain Cook being my hero when I was a kid, they were the absolute magical dream destination that I had “planned” on my “around the world” ticket. In fact, I’d even paid a bit extra for my ticket to include those Islands on my route! God…. that was a kick in the stomach….. but at that point I didn’t even have a ticket so it was the least of my worries!!!! “If Fiji’s the best bet, then Fiji it is then” I confirmed.
At around 4 pm I was sitting outside when one of the kind ladies came to the door of the office and said “Mr. Miller…. would you like to come in?” I got up “She had a smile on her face….. I swear she had a smile on her face…. she has got a smile on her face hasn’t she? She has got a smile on her face….. she got a fucking smile on her face!!!!!!!!!!…… fucking hell…… she’s got a fucking smile on her face!!!!!” I was thinking, as I walked through the door and towards the counter. Not only that, but I noticed that all the other members of British Airways and Qantus staff had quiet smiles on their faces too. This was looking good. 🙂
The lady member of staff went behind the other side of the counter and I approached the public side, and as I reached it she said “Mr. Miller….. it’s been a very difficult day today…. but…. here’s your ticket” as she “definitely” gave me a big smile and presented me with my ticket!!!!! 🙂 I picked it up and quickly checked it, and then I could have cried, kissed and cuddled her all at once!!!!!! 🙂 Instead I just gave her the biggest and most grateful and relieved smile I think I may have ever mustered, and, with tears in my eyes, I simply said “Thank you…. thank you so very much.” I was actually too emotionally exhausted to have said or done anything more, but the smile of quiet contentment that she gave me in reply…. and the quiet smiles, that I noticed were getting even quieter, amongst the other staff members in the office….. told me that that was all I needed to say or do. It was a lovely moment. I was wished well on the rest of my journey…. and I was off!!!! 🙂
I went and checked into a Youth Hostel and that evening I went for a quiet beer and I began to say my goodbyes to New Zealand, because, the very next day I would be saying hello to a most unexpected destination, and land, as I “knew”, by this time tomorrow, I’d be in Fiji.
You can never “know” exactly where life goes…. but I did get to Fiji! 🙂
Lots of Love,