Helen Martin: Drama’s key to a stressful trip

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IT will go down in our family history as The Day of Keys, otherwise known as How Not To Start a Holiday.

Everything had gone pretty smoothly... dog in kennels, trusty cat-loving neighbours organised on a feline feeding rota, Kindle loaded up with books, cases packed, boarding passes printed off and passports and euros safe in the security wallet. Stepson gallantly chauffeured us to the airport and we – surprisingly – were checked in within five minutes.

We’d gone through security to Duty Free, found everything we wanted and were just about to settle down for a coffee until the gate for our flight to Malaga came up on the board.

That was the moment when I screamed. Himself gave me one of those tolerant, manly, “calm down dear” looks, assuming I’d brought the wrong lipstick, or neglected to salt the in-flight sandwiches.

“The keys... I don’t have the keys!” I wailed. “It doesn’t matter, I’ve got mine,” he said, now thinking I had seriously lost it.

“No... the keys for the flat in Spain. They’re still hanging in the kitchen cupboard.”

This is not our flat, it belongs to my sister, so the bunch in the cupboard was the only set in Edinburgh.

There followed phone calls to track down one of the neighbours or my son who would have keys to our home, and to gallant stepson who was now being asked to get back across town to collect the Spanish keys and yet again drive out to the airport.

But in these days of airline security how were we to get back through the system to meet him?

I threw myself on the mercy of the first person who passed by with an airport ID. Turned out she was the manager of Duty Free aka my 
guardian angel.

Within moments (think here of a Mission Impossible soundtrack) she had whisked Himself back through security and to the Ryanair check-in who were told to print him out a boarding pass at no charge (usually it costs £70). It took about 60 seconds (which makes you wonder why it costs £70). She had also logged his details with security fast-track so that he could pass back to departure without hindrance.

Meanwhile (switch to Ice Cold in Alex soundtrack) stressed, hot and exhausted, I dragged both cabin bags plus my shoulder bag to the boarding gate which, as always, seemed to be located somewhere on the outskirts of Livingston. Needless to say I got chatting to others in the queue and soon half a dozen of us were scanning the horizon waiting for Himself.

Eventually (cue Chariots of Fire) he appeared in the distance, running and dodging through the crowds to the applause of our fellow passengers.

We had a great holiday. By the time we got back and I rang big sister to thank her for the flat and tell her about The Day of Keys, I was quite mellow. Then she topped it.

Apparently the same thing happened to her husband who had dropped the family off at the airport, driven to his place of work to leave the car for a fortnight and then took a taxi back to the airport. When he discovered he’d forgotten the keys, he got a taxi back to the car, drove home, tried to open the front door only to have his key break in the lock. They got there in the end. But clearly if our family has any holiday soundtrack it must be National Lampoon’s Vacation.

Tourists’ needs should be met

THERE is a price to pay for being a city that attracts tourists, especially far-travelled and wealthy, middle-aged and elderly ones, who stay in plush city centre hotels and buy expensive souvenirs. And that is meeting their needs, including allowing tour coaches to drop them at their hotel door, as happens in cities like New York and London.

The council’s proposed ban of tour buses from Princes Street will leave droves of bewildered ageing foreigners lugging their cases along the pavement. Wonder what they’d make of the Capital’s traditional welcoming motto “You’ll have had yer tea” translated into Japanese, Chinese, Russian and German? And what the council would make of them deciding to take their custom elsewhere?


I’M sure Björn Again are jolly good, but for the Capital’s Hogmanay Concert in the Gardens, it’s a bit of a come down to have to settle for a tribute act. If I was fellow headliner Lily Allen, left, I’d feel a bit peeved.

Lamont wanted Westminster rule

JOHANN Lamont’s accusations that the Labour Party in Westminster treats Scottish Labour as a branch office are to say the least, baffling. What on earth was she expecting? That’s what Scottish Labour is, because that is precisely what Johann and the Scottish Labour Party campaigned for... continuing governance of Scotland by Westminster rather than the national and thus party independence which she now seems to crave.

Nor is leadership candidate Jim Murphy likely to help matters much being a relatively right-wing Westminster Labour MP who won’t even be present for First Minister’s question sessions. In the current mood of Scotland it seems much more likely that Sarah Boyack or left winger Neil Findlay will bring home the leadership, albeit totally astonishing that any of them would want such a poisoned chalice.