I looked at my passport while waiting to go through Passport Control at St Pancras and the thought came to mind that I didn’t even have a passport ten years ago. How life changes, and how those changes make you realise the impermanence of life. It has been such a lucky ride and one can only appreciate it while one can.

I’m sitting in front of one of the original ugly Australians, probably called Dazza, whose voice is as musical as sawing corrugated iron and the conversation has yet to get beyond basic boofhead. Fantastic! Stupid old bastard. First trip overseas and I hope he falls off the Eiffel Tower. Rather a contrast to the woman who sat beside me at the phone-charging desks. Darling, I want to send some flowers to Nigella (yes, and it went on and on). In pots, if you can. I want the new house to be lovely. So hard moving out — even when the rent on the new place is astronomical). Oh no, I don’t think it will be a scandal, he’s too much the gentleman (to completely throttle her in public). And I won’t be in this afternoon, I have some important things to do (like pissing over to Paris on Eurostar). People are very strange and sometimes surprising.!

On the other hand, I’ve had some lovely conversations with perfect strangers since leaving Issoudun, a couple in broken Franglais, some encounters with Aussies, Kiwis, Poms, and Yanks. All good company and better when doing things that are a bit out there. The more interesting the activity, the better the company, I’ve decided. Boring people do boring things. And it’s amazing how far a simple compliment can get you. The young woman who sat beside me from Banbury this morning did an instant makeup transformation while I was turning pages and I joked about two minute magic. She saw the joke and we laughed about the superiority of women over men all the way to Marylebone.

So, in honour of a voyage that was not all fun, and remembering a home-coming that may not be all I want (thanks, Board of Studies), here are the best bits of the passport, because even I am losing track of the trips.

  1. Wien Schwechaf 18 November 2006, which s the first stamp, I think.
  2. immigration Officer Paris 2 Dec 2006, leaving Paris to go to London during the first trip.
  3. Immigration Officer Dublin Port 16 Dec 2006 — getting off the ferry in Dublin
  4. <lImmigration Officer Heathrow 27 Dec 2008

  5. Left Londres 27 Dec 2008 (the beginning of trip 2)
  6. Left Paris Nord 14 Jan 2009 (the end of trip 2)
  7. Immigration Officer Paris 14 Jan 2009 (UK Immigration at Paris Nord on the way to London)
  8. Immigration Australia 5 Jan 2010, which is the trip to Christchurch, I think.
  9. Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, ADMITTED, thank you America, 26 June 2010, San Francisco heading north
  10. Canada June 26 2010: Vancouver Airport
  11. Another stamp from Homeland Security, confusingly dated 24 Sept 2010.
  12. Immigration Thailand 23 Sept 2012, on the way to Koh Samui.
  13. Immigration Koh Samui 29 Sept 2012, coming back.
  14. Singapore Immigration Visit Pass
  15. Singapore immigration 29 Sept 2012 (that was the lightning tour of the city
  16. Roissy CDG 20 June 2013, arriving for the Issoudun Pilgrimage
  17. Left Paris Nord 29 June 2013, catching Eurostar to London this trip.
  18. The latest, 3 July 2013, homeward bound from London.

So there it is, and its a shame that one doesn’t always get a stamp. How can you win the prize if you can’t collect all the stamps? So there, New Zealand!

Fuck. He is called Dazza. The Ugly Australian Abroad. Time to go home.