I’m not sure why I get get surprised when the people at the airport check in desk try to fleece me out of another few hundred dollars. I’m not even sure why I’m indignant. It happens every time, every tour. This time I took the pathetic approach – I didn’t know, I wasn’t told. More specifically, I haven’t got the money. Wally and I are travelling with two bags each – an instrument and a suitcase, way below the 23 kilos that used to be the rule. But anyway, apparently my Qantas Club membership counts for nothing in regard to flying Finnair (even though everything else – lounge, ff points is just the same) and so the officious fellow in the Qantas uniform who is busy trying to tell me it’s not actually Qantas but some other ruling can only be persuaded into a $200 surcharge as opposed to the $400 they started with so is the glass half full, or half empty? Or am I half ripped off, or half way in front? Or is Alan Joyce only a bit of a cunt or a complete cunt with half decent people doing his bidding. Anyway, $200 worth of grief and myself and the esteemed Squeezebox Wally sail tonight for Singapore (leave your blankets by the door).
I have been reading a fantastic blog by a bloke called Nick Hunt where he has been recreating a journey by one of my favourite authors Patrick Leigh Fermor who walked across Europe in 1933. He has just reached Istanbul after nine months of tramping through the wind and rain and seems a little sheepish at the prospect of flying home to London. It is such a noble position to take but ultimately one I can’t afford to have any dalliance with so here I am on another Northern Hemisphere jaunt with a brand new iPad, my smug North Melbourne supporting cohort two seats over and eight hours to kill. And wine.
I am reading a novel lent to me by Barb Waters called Eleven Seasons by Paul D. Carter which seems to be as good as any book flying out of Melbourne three quarters through a football season. Funnily enough I woke early this morning to finish the Thea Astley book A Descant For Gossips recommended to me by Darren Hanlon (nothing worse than leaving on a tour with a book 80% finished). Both are concerned with the tribulations of early adolescence and at this stage all I can, say is that the Astley one was great and the Carter one seems very promising. Both seem to be about the loneliness faced by youngsters and as such are instructive but how in the hell would you get a bunch of year eights reading Thea Astley? Or as they might say – good luck with that. But it would be so good if you could. So much of it rings true to me, so many years after it was written.
I am sure there is a possibility I could have read the Carter book as some sort of on line download on this new device but I very much doubt the possibility I would be able to get the Thea Astley one. And you might say it’s not the point – they’re both really credible books and why not take advantage of the technology. But I guess it sort of is the point. Someone is going to be controlling the information however and whatever path it takes. You’ll get this one, but you won’ t get that one. And I suppose I happen to want both. No doubt I’ll succumb eventually. Still, at this stage, I like the thing of having the physical document in my hand. The cracked CD case, the dog eared book I read on the train. The scratched record we played in the house in East Geelong. I am still a person that enjoys reading books. Actual books. Like actual records – and if they are a little weight to carry then is that really a problem? Unless you wear a Qantas blazer at the check in during the period of the evil Joyce dynasty or you are the guy with the case full of CDs then of course it’s a not a problem and as my best friend in the world commented last week. If you found yourself reading 50 Shades of Grey on an iPad then you probably should just die. I probably should shut up now and proof read this in Singapore.
Mick Thomas 8/8/2012
Postscript: The people at Finnair on the return journey proved to be totally helpful and let Wally off with his extra bag and let me actually carry the guitar on board the cabin. Even if they had charged us their prescribed fee for an extra bag would have been 80 Euros so the claim by Qantas that the $200 surcharge was a Finnair thing is obviously, totally disingenuous rubbish. Mr Joyce just made his poor beleagured shareholders another few hundred clams. On the iPad front I have to admit in leiu of finding something to read in Vienna I actually downloaded a few old classics to have as a backup for the return flights and was glad of the chance to have something to read once my last book was finished so wonders never cease.