Mrs Monk has been on constant watch for holiday options since our last adventure to Florida in the spring.
This is not something coveted by Mr Monk who nevertheless has never discouraged Mrs Monk from doing what she wants. Giving Mrs Monk a free choice obliges her to make up her mind, and that would not be one of Mrs Monks strong points, not that she is at all ambivalent on all occasions; if Mr Monk was brave enough to offer a suggestion, this would certainly provide Mrs Monk with the answer she was looking for, which would be to set about doing the very opposite.
Mr Monk is wise to leave the matter entirely to Mrs Monk and in that way he cannot be blamed for the inevitable disappointments, of sunshine holiday. So this is how the Monks found their way back to Quarteria for four days of sun and blisters since it turned out to be scorchio in Portugal in October, when it had rained in August.
Before the first day was complete Mrs Monk had expressed disappointment with hotel room, just as before on all other holidays for a lifetime. Accordingly she demanded, as always, to be moved to a better room and then became disappointed by intransigence of Hotel desk. This is all so familiar. What has also happened before is that Mrs. Monk began blaming Mr Monk as if he had chosen this Town and this hotel and this room in which to stay, when in fact he had no idea he was going there until after it was booked by Mrs Monk.
Allow me a flash back to the beginning of day one in Leigh on Sea. In the spring the Monks were stung by a £60 excess baggage charge which caused Mrs Monk a great deal of anguish. Mr Monk was mindful of this and set about weighing Mrs Monks bag on the bathroom scales, (not an exact science). Mr Monk was subsequently obliged to inform Mrs Monk that she had exceeded the 20 Kilogram limit by 2 Kilograms, and then to draw attention to unnecessary duplication of her packing requirements, the two swimsuits, two sweaters, and six pairs of short trousers that she would not wear, and two packs of playing cards she would not play, and then there were the books that she would not read, and which caused the collateral damage on the March trip, and so on and so on.
Before long Mr Monk had declared that he would never again share a bag with Mrs Monk for as long as he was alive enough to prevent it.
Mrs Monk did manage to convince Mr Monk to pack the tennis racquets, since Mr Monk would rather play tennis with a brick wall than sit around a pool staring at underdressed geriatrics, staring back at him. However, no tennis was played since a tournament was in progress where the Monks thought they might get a game.
To overcome Mrs Monk’s packing demands, the Monks found it necessary to take on a great deal of hand baggage. Mrs Monk insisted on having her very own backpack, where she could place her own selection of perceived essentials; more stuff. However, the last place you would expect to find Mrs Monk’s backpack, was on Mrs Monk’s back, and as they lined up in the never ending, barely moving queue at the Easy Jet check-in, Mrs Monk might be observed unencumbered in any way whatsoever. During this queuing process Mrs Monk would disappear to buy yet more stuff to accommodate in the hand baggage, and Mr Monk would be left to do the Check-in shuffle of the 20 KG suitcase, and the laptop bag. On his back would be Mrs Monk’s backpack, Mr Monk’s own man bag, and Mrs Monk’s fat SONY camera bag.
The laptop bag has a convenient and secure pocket where they have always kept their blue travel folder for passports and booking documents etc. On the drive to the airport Mr Monk asked Mrs Monk to empty the folder of all unnecessary documents that were unrelated to this trip to Portugal. Mr Monk was aware of Mrs Monk’s nostalgic desire to save all redundant paperwork and ticket stubs and other detritus from old trips and this has caused confusion in the past.
At the check-in the Monk’s were advised that they would only be allowed one piece of hand baggage each, and that they should juggle everything into just two bags before boarding the plane. Mrs Monk wondered, very out loud, why she should allow Mr Monk’s bag and contents to combine with her bag and contents hanging on Mr Monk’s back.
Once the Monks had successfully encountered the passage to the airside departure lounge, Mrs Monk was confronted with yet another variety of options to expand their hand baggage even further. Three newspapers and three books were stuffed into an already stuffed lap top bag, The secure pocket reserved for the blue travel document folder could no longer be made secure.
At the gate Mrs Monk decided that she could not stand in the gate line because she was a diabetic, and had to sit down, a familiar refrain and tactic for avoiding lines.
“Wait!” said Mr Monk before she disappeared, “You are now in charge of this.” and handed her the blue Monk travel folder.
Mr Monk did the chore of standing in line with the numerous bags and the shuffling passengers jostling for advantage over the other passengers. Easy Jet users will be aware of the survival-of-the-fittest mentality of the average Easy Jet passenger. Mr Monk knew from their position in the line that were likely to be separated on the plane. As they approached the gate people were scrambling and hustling and stuffing their bags to abide by the Easy Jet rule that only one bag per passenger would be allowed on board. Mr Monk was also required to performed this additional task and wondered why Easy Jet was so difficult.
The Monks found two seats separated by just the aisle, and the very last pair of seats that made this possible. Mrs Monk handed Mr Monk the passports and Mr Monk instinctively went to the laptop bag to put them away in the blue folder. But there was no blue folder in the laptop bag.
It is very hard to focus on what happened in the confusion created by difficult Easy Jet rules and Mrs Monk’s rules, particularly when Mrs Monk is not at all reluctant to attribute blame in Mr Monk’s direction, and very ostentatiously in very confined space packed with strangers all looking at you, like children of the damned.
Mr Monk managed to draw the loss to the attention of the Easy Jets stewardesses in orange. He said that this important folder was certainly at the gate and he would go fetch it. The girl in orange said that was not possible since he had boarded but that she would call the gate.
After ten or fifteen minutes Mr Monk wondered if they had made the call, because they had not reported back to the Monks, and because it seemed that they were getting ready to disembark. He got out of his seat and went up to the front.
“Have you found the Blue Folder.”
“No one has found a blue folder” said the stewardess.
“Have you called the Gate?”
“I didn't have to because Janet has just come from the gate and no one gave her a blue folder.”
“Did Janet know there was a missing folder?”
No answer. A shrug of the shoulders.
Mr Monk went back to his seat and got ready for take off.
The girl in Orange had failed to do what she said she would do.
So what was in the folder?
Needless to say that Mrs Monk did not clear out the folder as Mr Monk asked her to do so on the way to the airport, so it is hard to say, but certainly two old out of date passports were in the folder, Mrs Monk’s visa from the Home Office, some dollars, some bank account details and other important stuff that would enable an identity fraudster to have a field day.
Thank you Easy Jet, for giving the Monks something to worry about for the duration of the holiday.