surinenglish

Guilt edged opportunities

Bumpety bump, bumpety bump, bumpety bump. Wherever you go in the world, trains sound more or less the same. Well, except for Japan, probably, where they almost certainly make a swooshing noise before delivering you to your destination half an hour before you left.

Anyway, up here in Barcelona, it's the old classic bumpety bump rhythm as we hurtle towards the airport in a train fairly plastered in graffiti. My, they do love their graffiti in these parts; opening a spray paint can business must be a sure fire winner. Bumpety bump, bumpety bump.

Once we reach the airport, I do hope I won't be pulled aside at security as I was on the way in. It's always rather nerve-racking although you know you've got nothing to hide. Sometimes, when I've been travelling with a guitar, I've received the dreaded beckoning finger signal and spent the next five minutes beaded with sweat, recalling random scenes from Midnight Express, as a customs or security official grabs my guitar in precisely the way you're not supposed to, before studying the tuner, plectrums, spare strings, capos and other attendant paraphernalia in minute detail with the puzzled expression of a labradoodle staring at its own reflection in the patio glass door window.

The worst thing is, despite your certainty that all will be well, a small yet persistent voice begins to whisper in your ear.

"What about that hippie on the bus who brushed past your guitar case? His pants looked like they were woven from hemp weed and cocaine."

"What if this is the bag your wife lent to your next door neighbour Joss Stick Jack or whatever his name was for his weekend trip to Bogotá?"

It's the same when the police stop you in your car and you begin to wonder if you should have cleaned it since that weird rock festival in 1978. Eventually the officer waves you off curtly but your smooth withdrawal from the scene is hampered by your nervous right leg shaking like Elvis Presley's during the Hound Dog years. So you bounce absurdly away in the manner of The Ant Hill Mob in The Wacky Races.

Even in supermarkets we're not immune, when that beeper thing goes of at the till and you sport your best it-wasn't-me-ref expression, vaguely worried that a tin of pilchards might have fallen down the back of your pants earlier in aisle six.

Maybe it's because I went to a Catholic school but, frankly, I just can't help feeling guilty even when I'm not.

Bumpety bu... oh no, we've arrived. Gulp!