And so, at long last, we come to the final instalment. This won’t take long because:
a) I’m still tired from writing the last part.
b) I’ve already covered the main activities (swimming and sunbathing) of the last day.
Suffice it to say that at just after 5pm we were in the remaining two hire cars and heading through the Friday evening traffic towards the Milanese equivalent of the M25 and north-westwards to Malpensa airport.
It is quite true what they say about Italian drivers – they are, indeed, UTTER maniacs on the road! We were followed at one stage by a large white van, the driver of which was quite obviously in a tearing hurry to get home for the weekend; he got so close that you couldn’t see his windscreen through our back window and I’m surprised he didn’t set off the proximity parking alarms! He stuck himself to our bumper for several miles while we were overtaking slower moving vehicles and it was fortunate that our driver, Engineer 1, was not fazed by this.
“Let the bugger wait” was his only comment.
We were also overtaken on the inside by a number of motorcycles – one of which had a scantily clad young lady perched on the pillion and who was holding her crash helmet on with one hand instead of using the chinstrap supplied for that purpose. It is, frankly, a mystery to me how manic motorcycling Italian adolescents ever survive to become manic ADULT Italian car drivers!
We did make it to the airport on time, with one “comfort break” at the side of the motorway for the benefit of Helpdesk who got bitten by mozzies while out of the car. Serves him right – he should have gone before we left!
The cars were returned without difficulty and after a brief refuelling stop at that quaint Italian restaurant chain, Burger King, the EasyJet Speedy Boarding system once again saw us at the front of the priority boarding queue and for a second time I had a front row seat with all the legroom a 6 foot 4 inch person could ask for!
Once again the baggage arrived within minutes of us reaching the carousel and I was soon saying goodbyes and hopping on the free bus to the long-stay car park, section L20. Having stated at the start of this series my misgivings over whether I had got the right pre-paid car park you may imagine my relief when, on my inserting the ticket given to me on arrival into the machine, the barrier lifted without further demands for payment!
It was something like 11.30pm UK time when I left the car park and set out on the 60-something mile drive around Luton, round the Bedford bypass and up the A1 to Peterborough. It was 00.40am when I arrived home to find Faith (who I had informed by mobile phone of my safe landing) still up and watching the tail end of the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games. So I sat down to watch the fireworks and listen to the final track of “Dark Side of the Moon” followed by Sir Paul McCartney singing “The End” from the “Abbey Road” album and leading the crowd in a spirited rendition of “Hey Jude”. And that’s all I saw of it until I caught up on the BBC iplayer about a week later.
Just to show how far behind this series of articles has got I should say that I started writing THIS while the closing ceremony was on!
I would like to close this series by thanking all of the anonymous Job titles mentioned through this series for helping me to have what was, on the whole, an extremely interesting and enjoyable experience. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world! You know who you are and how we all got on together and that’s all that matters.
Grazie e Buonanotte