Tony Allen: And finally ... Cauldron burn and cauldron bubble

Apr 20 | 2022

The only thing missing from my life at the moment is a plague of locusts; although my first born ought to be a bit careful I should think.

Tony Allen - And finallyMy last article was all about my having a painful bad tooth at a time close to when we were due to light-heartedly fly away on holiday. This, I should add, was all taking place during a fierce and biting wind - pun intended.

In addition, I was in a fit of high dudgeon over the fatuous bits of paper which I’d been required to fill in, print out and produce before travel was sanctioned at the boarding gate. I was concerned that I’d foolishly omitted something and that as a result our holiday would be abandoned. Bad tempered, moi?

“Holy moly what’s wrong with you? In another life you’d be able to carry out the most complicated of tasks with absolute insouciance!”

Actually I’ve been dying to fit in that last word for ages.

So, after a somewhat harrowing roller-coaster plane journey, and fully masked; here we were, finally at our destination … with a ninety-minute queue for the customs ahead of us and looking like a party of delegates heading for a bank robber’s convention. This reminds me of the bank robber who was ejected from a local bank because he wasn’t wearing a mask.

Enough I hear you cry!

Oh, and it was cold; early evening; still light; but rain where the sun should have been even though we’d paid good money for it.

“Welcome to Portugal,” says the harassed looking customs officer.

“It’s not your fault,” says I.

“Stop being so touchy,” says Mrs A

“Don’t you call me … never mind!”

I’m sure that he almost sniggered when he looked at my passport photo.

So here we were on holiday - in Portugal actually - looking forward to warmer weather with memories of ‘The Great February Gales’ receding into the background. Oh and talking of receding into the background, I really needed a good night’s sleep so that I could start working on the paperwork for the return journey home.

So it’s the morning of 24 February, 2022 and after that good night’s sleep, we awake to glorious sunshine. All’s right with the world …

Although it wasn’t! We learn on the news that Russia has invaded Ukraine and we are being made aware of all of the obvious contingent difficulties and miseries that this is likely to cause - and not long ago my biggest worry had been a mere toothache.

There’s an old phrase that says: Hopes are like sunbeams but a shadow destroys them. So here in our midst was our shadow.

It’s very easy when you’re a long way from home, to drift into a mood of escape from the real world, and of course that’s what holidays are for I suppose. But in these ‘hi tech’ times war is not a distantly remote event, it’s something that is there in your sitting room and it’s played out on 24-hour news - and it can make you feel guilty. That’s not a comfortable holiday feeling.

In the same way as when you are due to leave the office on holiday and that customary problem occurs which nags at you for a short while until it finally drifts into the background, we just had to get on with our holiday. But even so it was still on our minds.

Looking back on our history it becomes apparent that there have always been calamitous events that have been there to test us, and life has subsequently moved on. We have no right to expect constant happiness or freedom from worry as a given. The alternatives are also part of our existence. Alas, there will always be power hungry individuals who will attempt to ‘upset our apple cart’, to put it nicely. It’s the way of the world and we get through it somehow. Which, I might add, I’m sure is no consolation to the brave suffering inhabitants of Ukraine.

So, anyway, here we were,  it’s good to be back home, key in the door, alarm turned off and junk mail piled to the ceiling. Everything familiar, kettle on; nothing had changed … except, that when you come to think about it, maybe the whole world has changed!

Photo: Tony Allen.