It’s weird, pre-travel anxiety. It’s that jittery feeling, not quite butterflies in the stomach, just a gentle fluttering of moths in your intestinal tract.

I don’t know if you get that feeling too before travel? Some people, those of the stuff-your-case-and-just-make-your-flight school of thought, won’t quite understand the continual checking and re-checking of the suitcase, the passport validity, the charger, the visas, the money. Checking how many socks to take on a 93 day trip. What about underpants? Shall I take a brolly? Did we calculate the mossie pills right, you have to take them after you leave the zone.

You catch the drift.

But it goes on. Does my insurance cover mopeds? Did I empty the fridge? If not that bread will become green fur and yield enough penicillin to disinfect infect a continent. We should wash the duvet but the launderette opens at 8.30 so I’m bound to be late for work today. Did I remember to change the batteries on the cat-flap? If not poor Silver will be destined to a feral lifestyle eating grass, wood shavings, sand and twigs.

We should switch off the central heating. What if we got a cold spell and the pipes froze and cracked and flooded the front room and what if that short- circuited the X-box. What if people got electrocuted. Talking of electricity, did I unplug the battery on the motorbike? How much time should I leave for check in? Where are those demanded boarding passes.

Did I unplug the iron?

STOP MAN. CHILL. AND. BREATH.

That’s enough of a brief foray in to the dark, nether-world of pre-travel anxiety. I am sure I will be fine once I am over there, passport stamped, ATM card working. As Marley said, every little thing’s gonna be all right.

***

This time there’s a little more to be anxious about because the country I am leaving, the United Kingdom might be a different country I return to. You see, with Brexit looming, the United Kingdom has become the Disunited Kingdom, riven by strife and factions. We are at a critical point in our country’s history and these next few days will shape the lives of generations to come.

It’s hard to be leaving a fabulous country like the UK (or the DK) in this desperate state, a country that has metamorphosed so radically over the last 7 years, so departed from those warm and homely vibes we felt hosting the 2012 Olympics.

During the Olympics people smiled, Londoners stopped huffing, country people mingled cozily with urbanites and the Queen parachuted down to us mortals in a peach dress. She even fooled all of us in to thinking it was a stunt double.

Yes, the opening ceremony reminded us of a glittering common past in the UK, of the suffragettes struggle, the birth of the free NHS, the Windrush, the Commonwealth, the industrial revolution and to top all of these achievements, David Beckham, he of the tattooed biceps and illustrious locks, on a speedboat.

The UK is a light year away from that parachuting monarch; Brexit split us like a chisel and poverty, education, the health service and crime have been sidelined for only a single issue: Brexit (and arguably, Love Island)

***

Anyway let’s please digress. I thought I would end this post with my Huckleberry friend, my blue and yellow backpack which I bought in the summer of 1988. I had saved enough money from a summer job selling luggage in Harrods to buy an ‘Inter-rail’ ticket from London to Athens via Italy. I eventually ended up in Egypt and returned behind the Iron Curtain.

It was a fascinating time in Europe in those years of Inter-railing. The youth of europe criss-crossed across the continent on railways, sleeping in carriages, tents, hostels, and parks, eating cheap food and seeing that world was so much bigger than their myopic upbringings. They learned how similar everyone beyond the horizon actually was.

It was something that young Europeans of a certain age and inclination would do, returning home with narrowed waistlines and broadened minds.

Everyone who loves travel has a journey like that, that one voyage of their youth, that sparked their wanderlust, that one voyage which returned them as someone else because their perception of the world had changed irrevocably and forever.

***

This post is part of the blog series

’90 Days in South East Asia’

<Previous post Next post>