Away from it all

Is that the telephone? Whoever it is will just have to wait until I’ve washed my hands. What time is it? Seven o’clock. That’ll be Peter. What did his message on my answer phone say last night when I got in? ‘Suus, don’t forget that I’m going to pick you up at 6.30.’ I don’t know how many times I’ve told him my name’s Susan not ‘Suus’. And, ‘don’t forget’, me, that’s a laugh! This had better be a good excuse.

“Hello.”

“S-o-r-r-y, Suus.”

This is not going to be a good excuse. Think positive. “Peter.”

“I know I’m late.”

You shouldn’t have said 6.30. You know you can’t get up on time.

“I said 6.30 and I meant 6.30.”

But you have no sense of time, you never did have.

“However, we do have plenty of time …”

Yes, 6.30 leave, half an hour to the airport, for a flight that leaves at 10.30, we do have some time! It was your idea to pick me up at the same time you pick me up for work each day, ‘so we don’t have anything different in the routine’.

“… I am only half an hour late.”

Half an hour plus, Peter, you haven’t arrived yet. Where are you?

“I’ll be leaving soon.”

So, twenty minutes to get here, means fifty minutes late in leaving at least. I could have had an extra three-quarters of an hour in bed.

“ I overslept. I think my alarm clock’s on the blink again; perhaps it needs a new battery.”

No Peter, you used that excuse last month. I bought you a high-power battery, not the mini-life ones you usually buy.

“Anyhow, I’ve got most of my things in the suitcase.”

Correction, one and a half hours late in leaving; he hasn’t even packed yet. I would have thought Mummy would have done that for you.

“I know we said it would be hot, but I met Jamie last night and he told me it can get pretty cold at night. He was on Kos three years ago …”

Peter, we discussed all this. I told you it could be cold at night. What is it? Don’t you listen to me, or don’t you think I know about such things?

“… only had coffee, and bread and jam in the hotel, so they went out most mornings for something more…”

That reminds me, I must put marmalade on my shopping list for when I get back. I emptied the jar at breakfast this morning, one hour ago!

“So, anyhow, I thought I’d take a couple of sweaters.”

Think Peter, you’ve heard that suggestion before, from me! I’m sure you do listen, but your mind’s off in a dream world most of the time. It’s the thing that makes you so easy to get on with, but sometimes …

What do you think? How about those two my Mum knitted for me?”

Oh no, not those two. You have some nice sweaters; I bought them for you.

“I’ve also packed that bottle of extra strong sun cream Mum bought last year. I thought it might be useful.”

Another subject we’ve already discussed. Yes, bring the damn sun cream.

“I’ll be OK, I guess it’s the Italian blood in me, but you should be careful with your fair skin.”

You are dark, Peter, I’ll give you that, but you have as much Italian blood in you as that Welsh guy who runs the take-away Pizza shop downstairs.

“Don’t want you getting burned, and not being able to … eh … cuddle-up to me at night.”

Now, that’s something we didn’t already discuss. I’m still not sure that booking one room at this hotel was such a good idea. I like to be able to sleep by myself sometimes.

“Suus, are you still there?”

“Yes, I’m still here Peter.”

“Now, you’ve got the money, right? I’ve got the travellers cheques.”

Which I organised.

“Don’t forget your passport.”

Peter, get on with it. Just check what you bring against the list I gave you, get in the car, and get over here. Otherwise, we’ll never get to the airport.

“I’ve left the address and telephone number of the hotel with Mum: just in case anything comes up.”

Knowing your mum, it probably will. If I hadn’t persuaded you to go to Greece, she would be coming with us.

“She said, we’ll all have to go somewhere next year where they have food that she can eat, hee hee.”

Peter, I like you a lot, but your mum gives ‘three’s a crowd’ have real meaning for me.

I’ve made a list of who we’ll have to send postcards to …”

At this rate, we won’t be anywhere to send postcards from.

“There’s my mum and yours, of course, Jamie …”

My mum doesn’t care about what I do. That’s why I’m living in this miserable, one room flat, and need to get away on holiday.

“… and probably the people at the garage. What do you think? Well, we can decide that when we get there.”

‘If’ we get there.

“I still think we should have got some injections. Mum says you never know what’s going about in these countries.”

We are going to Greece, one of the oldest civilisations in history. The worst thing that can happen to you is a hangover from drinking too much Ouzo.

“Still, I’ve got the tablets …”

For every possible contingency including the plague and penguin bites, no doubt.

“… and if we need anything else we can always contact the British Embassy.”

I can just see the headlines now, ‘Royal Air Force flies emergency aspirin to British holiday-maker’.

“Well, time’s getting on, I’d better be on my way. See you in twenty minutes.”

That was a typical telephone ‘conversation’ with Peter: he spoke and I listened, or most of the time I listened.

Why is he so talkative on the telephone and not when we’re together? His quietness borders on silence most of the time. At first I thought it was because he was shy. It was one of the main things that attracted me to him. Well that’s not completely true, his looks were also a factor. OK, the major factor. WOW11 was how all three of my playing partners had rated him the first time he walked into the badminton club six months ago – one of the few times we had all agreed, and not bad on a scale of 1 to 10. There was a strong suspicion from most members that the four of us were only there because of the chance to meet one of the highflying executives the club attracted, and they were right. We quickly found out that Peter had something extra going for him: he was completely unattached! I must admit I played a bit unfair in the ‘ensnare Peter’ contest. I’d been saving my expensive, designer, badminton outfit with the slightly shorter skirt for a special occasion, because it was definitely something to be seen in and not spoilt by playing in, and this was it. Fair or not, I won.

I still think he’s WOW11 to look at, and he has a gentle, kind personality, but I’m slowly realising the quietness is probably because he has nothing much of interest to say. That combined with his lack of opportunity to practice conversation at home. Peter’s mother personifies several words that I had only vaguely understood before, domineering, possessive, incessant talker.

This holiday was supposed to be a test. Peter, away from his mum, in a romantic setting: do I feel enough about him to continue? I’m sure that Peter hasn’t thought of it in this sense.

And now, in the last few weeks, I’ve had more doubts, about Peter, and this holiday. The telephone call just now has not helped to eliminate any of them.

Perhaps I should have gone on holiday alone, to think things through.

There’s the telephone again. This had better not be Peter.

“Hello.”

“Suus, it’s me again.”

Who else? All my friends think I’ve gone on holiday by now.

“Mum just reminded me that there is a time difference between England and Greece.”

Yes, unfortunately it is only a matter of hours, not light years.

“I promised to call her as soon as we arrived. Do we arrive at 1.30 English time?”

“Yes.”

“Oh good, I was thinking that perhaps it was …”

Have I remembered to do everything? Cancelled the milk and papers, taken the cat to Janet’s, closed all the windows. I’m sure there’s something I’ve forgotten.

“ … and that would have made four hours difference. It’s more important coming back, because then we gain time.”

We haven’t got there yet. Why are you going on this holiday Peter? Wouldn’t you be better staying at home with mum? But we’ve bought the tickets now I guess.

“Mum says to remind you not to forget to bring the insurance policy for medical expenses. We don’t …”

The same policy that would allow you to get your money back …

“…want to find ourselves having second class…”

… if you didn’t go, for any reason. Surprising that.

“… treatment. Jamie knows someone who …”

I’ve got my ticket. I could get a taxi to the airport. No, don’t be silly.

“… and they were in the hospital here the same time as mum. You know, the time she went in for her …”

I just remembered, the last thing I always do before leaving: unplug the ’phone.

“Hello? Hello? Suus, are you there? Susan?”

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