The Suitcases Are Packed

My mum wrote. ‘What if they ask me about the piece of solid metal in my suitcase? How should I comment?’

Firstly, my mum is funny. And my aunt too. Those two are from the same branch of the witty tree. As much as I miss them, Quest gives me a keen appreciation of just how funny these identical twins are – and in particular when it comes to conversations about packing.

‘Tell them you need it to kill your son-in-law,’ I typed. ‘And that you need a large chunk of metal for the job.’

A few moments pass. ‘I suppose I can always drown myself with it.’

She’s talking about the sacrificial anode we are getting her to bring – tonight! Since my mum is officially on the way to Barbados. In fact, as I type, the BA 2153 is due to begin its descent. After three years, my mum is returning to Quest. The Cap has just taken another, very deep breath. Another woman to surround him onboard? He’s so lucky.

The metal anode currently in my mum’s bag is for Quest’s propellor. We had it shipped from Germany, where the propellor originates from, to my mum’s house. We had to have it done quickly too – she didn’t give us much notice of her upcoming visit.

My fingers are still fighting from making a list. Leads, knickers, workbooks. It’s been a busy week of us thinking, ‘What else do we need?’

It didn’t go past unnoticed. After another postal delivery went to Isleworth, West London, I received a message. ‘What am I – a camel?’

Uhhh. ‘You don’t need many clothes,’ I typed back.

Cheeky. Held my breath.

The phone pinged. ‘The way these suitcases are being packed, I’ll have to be naked. By the way, how on Earth do you expect me to bring this enormous thermos flask? It’s bigger than my own kettle.’

‘Could you put it in your hand luggage?’

I could hear her grrrr from 4,000 miles away. Really cheeky. My only defence being that my mum has a gift for packing. A gift which she is not shy about expressing. ‘I am the very best packer,’ she likes to say. I always nod my head obediently. After all, she did help my grandmother to once smuggle a live chicken on a flight from JFK to Warsaw. And in a hand bag donated by my aunt – of course. The chicken made it to Poland and lived there contentedly in my grandmother’s apartment for seven years.

But I didn’t have the last laugh. Three days ago, another message pinged through. ‘I just received 240 sachets of milk. How do you want me to pack them?’

Jack wrote immediately back. ‘Maybe take them in your hand baggage. They’re all less than 100ml for that reason.’

I stared at him. ‘How long are you going to keep it up?’

He grinned. ‘This is so worth the 12 quid.’

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