Dorothy Cannell: My husband Julian and I like to plan our vacations well in advance. This is doable because we don’t toddle off from home very often and we relish the plotting and planning stage. A year ago we talked to our friends Cathy Pickens and her husband Bob about attending the St. Hilda’s mystery conference in Oxford this August. Julian and I have been once before, but this would be their first time, although they go frequently to England. They were hugely enthusiastic. Lots of emails back and forth and major fine tuning at Malice this year.
Julian decided in May that it was time to book our fares. This enterprise took four or five days. Should we fly into Gatwick or Heathrow? The timing had to be worked out to link up with Cathy and Bob who are flying from North Carolina to meet us at Boston. Reports were made to me hourly. Even in the middle of the night a voice would mutter in my ear: “I’m leaning to flying Norwegian, but …” It was all settled, then it wasn’t, settled again, then scratched. Finally, he emerged glowing with triumph. He had found a fabulous fare. British Airways, $380 round trip, Boston – Heathrow. I told him he was my hero. And I was delighted. His fiscal responsibility, a favorite phrase of his, meant I could return home with a caseload of English goodies. Instantly I started on my list of essentials.
A Marks & Spencer Christmas cake
6 Bakewell tarts
2 Malt bread
4 Battenberg cakes
1lb Aniceseed balls
Alas, A couple of weeks ago my hopes of bringing the England I love home with me were dashed. We were having dinner at the home of a couple who have become our closest local friends. Malcolm is English and Carol has lived there on and off through the years, making them particularly interested in our upcoming trip, what we would be doing, where we would be going, etc.. After several minutes of this sort of discussion, Julian tossed out the “amazingly low air fares he’d snatched seemingly out of ‘thin air’.
Carol and Malcolm were suitably amazed.
“Do you have to push the plane off the runway?” Malcolm asked.
“Would it be quicker for you to go by ship?” Enquired Carol.
“Everything just as usual,” said Julian with that beam in his eye. No limitations, other than you have to pay sixty dollars per suitcase you put through. But that’s no problem. We’re only going for ten days so carry-ons will be fine.”
Pregnant silence, before I squeaked … squealed out a response.
“You never told me about that little quirk.”
“I’m sure I did?” Apprehensive smile.
“I’m sure you didn’t.” If the coffee pot had been handy I’d have tapped him on the head with it.
“We’ll set up a Go-Fund-Me page for you,” said Carol.
Being placed in this pathetic position quite put me off the wonderful dessert she had made, and I could tell Malcolm was wondering what he could say that would douse the blaze in my eyes. Suddenly I saw the scene in a mystery novel setting – Carol and Malcolm being questioned by Detective Inspector Snarlish following an unpleasant event.
“You say she was angry. How angry?”
“This is so difficult … she’s a friend. Our dogs are friends.”
“If looks could kill angry?”
“We didn’t have our glasses on and the dining room light fixture was on the dimmer.”
“You know we could continue this conversation down at the station.”
I blinked back to reality to hear Julian saying that of course I could put my suitcase through, the sixty dollars was nothing.
Fiscal responsibility is not to me one of the Ten Commandments, but that’s not why I about-faced by saying a carry-on would be fine. I just couldn’t burst his ‘I’ve got a bargain bubble’. I’ve had those moments of rapture myself – pair of slacks marked down from $70 to $4. Ruined if there if there had been an added cost for alterations. Besides I’ve had my put-through luggage lost more than I can count.
I am writing this ahead of the blog due date because we will be gone then. I’m all packed with room to spare for the books I hope to find along with the edibles.