Remind me to avoid Geneva airport in the future. Coming back from a meeting about an exciting new book deal in London (which I will tell you all about once it is signed) I flew into the scene of my handbag abduction episode. When I parked that morning (at 6am so I was a little bleary-eyed) I opted for the unlimited car park. I carefully wrote down Red 17 so that I would be able to find my car again.
I trudge towards the car park in my pink heels which after a day in London are hurting like hell. It is odd, I think to myself, that when I arrived the car park seemed so close, and now it seems so far away. I finally get there, heave a hugh sigh of relief and put the ticket in the machine. “Your ticket is not valid in this car park” it tells me. I look at my ticket. Unlimited Car Park number 1 it says. I am in unlimited car park number 51. This could explain it.
So I trudge back, swearing at my own idiocy, unaware that this episode is totally minor compared with the self-inflicted suffering I am about to come up with.
It is now ten to nine. I landed at 8.20 pm. I have an hour and a half drive ahead of me. The children are waiting up to say goodnight. I am about to throw my shoes away they hurt so much. To say I am keen to get home is an understatement.
I finally get back to the right car park and put my ticket in. It won’t let me pay with a card and I root around my newly-found handbag for any Swiss francs in a total blind panic before I realise the machine takes euros. Phew. I find Red 17 without any further mishaps and sink thankfully into my car. I set Titty (the GPS navigator) to my beloved Blanchiniere and plug in my phone. Ready to go!
Now all I need is the car parking ticket. It has vanished. Much like my handbag days before, it has been abducted. I literally turn everything upside down. I even crawl under the car, cursing and shouting at myself. I am in total disbelief. It HAS to be here. But it’s not. So I look for the office of the car park, there is none. I decide to drive to the exit and explain what has happened.
But when I get there and the man asks me where my ticket is I am just too ashamed to tell the truth, to tell him (even if he is hidden inside a machine) that I have no idea, that somewhere between paying for it and getting to my car I lost it. He’d think I am a fool, which I am, but why should he know that? So I lie. I cross my fingers and tell him the machine ate it. I get very Italian and shout about the machine. And the fact that my handbag was stolen last time I was here, and that I just WANT TO GO HOME. Eventually he releases me. I blow kisses to the invisible man in the machine and head for the motorway.
At home the children are asleep but Rupert is waiting with candles and a glass of red wine. I am so relieved to be there I almost weep. On Wednesday we go back to Geneva Airport to drop Bea off. I think I might stay in the car.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2008