We were having the time of our lives in Spain and we didn’t want it to end.
We had a plan on how to get home as everyone flew into Spain or out of Spain on a Tuesday. This was the change over day.
Mum had also totally underestimated the exchange rate of the British pound when converted into Spanish Pesetas.
She had one hundred pounds left in her purse and you have to remember this was 1987.
Even back home which was way more expensive than Spain one hundred pounds went a lot further than it does today.
In today’s money, it had the same spending power of two hundred and forty pounds but then we were in Spain so it went further still.
Spain lost the Peseta in 2002 when it changed over to Euros.
This for a time was great because the British pound was very strong and the euro was a new currency and not so stable.
I remember going to Zante with the lads in 2011 which I will write about in later blogs and the exchange rate was 1.5 so for example if you changed one thousand pounds you would get one thousand five hundred pounds back.
Exchange rates like this don’t last forever and with the pound getting weaker and the Euro getting strong I think currently the exchange rate is around 1.1.
So it’s a little bonus but certainly, nothing to write home about.
So we were spending our last couple of days by the pool with our new holiday friends really happy but a bit sad as we knew this would have to come to an end.
We packed our things on the last night and made our way to the airport.
I took one last look at the pool and the hotel and even as a kid thought to myself why wouldn’t everyone want to live here?
It was a big deal back then to leave the UK and come live in Spain or another country.
So many criminals of the time would make some money and disappear to Spain never to be seen again.
The world these days is a much smaller place and Spain is now not so far away.
Seventy-five of the eighty-six and Britain’s most wanted criminals who have fled to Spain have been caught and brought back to Britain.
People see movies like Sexy Beast with Ray Winstone and think that could be them but a lot has changed mainly due to technology.
Another film which captures the appeal of Spain to criminals in the 80s is called The Business see the trailers below and they are both fantastic films. The link below provides a very interesting insight on the changes in Spain over the years.
Many years ago people would move to Spain and they may call home once a week for five minutes. This call would cost about ten pounds and gradually people would lose touch with people from back home.
Now you can Skype, What’s App, Face time and it’s all for free.
That and apps such as Facebook and smartphones which can give our exact location unless you went totally off the grid its a lot harder to disappear now.
Even for people who are not criminals the rise of the internet you can book yourself a flight and leave the same night all in very little time and quite cheaply.
So a lot more ordinary people are taking more holidays and making memories but in 1987 this was not so common.
We get to the airport and wait in line normally as in there was nothing wrong and we come to check in our bags.
The agent tells us that we have missed our flights and that our flights were three days ago.
Then mum acting really surprised starts an argument nothing aggressive but saying surely you have made a mistake and I don’t understand this?
Then when this was going backward and forwards a little Carol went into the lie that we had prepared.
Oh my god I can’t believe it
Cat believe what
Look I am dyslexic and I’ve got the numbers mixed up
I don’t understand how that’s possible?
Look my son told me this morning as he has to read for me as I can’t understand a lot of this paperwork without him I would be lost
Then mum quickly adds which throws the agents off
Look I told the travel agent about this and they assured me that this wouldn’t be an issue. I can’t believe our first holiday away and this has happened.
Please don’t worry this is an unusual case but I’m sure we can figure something out.
Please I need to get home I don’t have the money for another ticket.
Ok go over there and let me speak to my boss we will figure this out don’t worry.
Thank you so much I’m so sorry.
Don’t worry we will fix this
Now we had to sit and wait and you better believe it we were here for hours and hours.
Now Carol hadn’t realised but she had completely fucked herself over.
In the cover story to get us home, she was completely illiterate.
She could not read a book or a magazine and that hundred pounds she had left was running out rapidly.
The airport is a very bleak place without money and especially with an 8-year-old who is full of energy.
After a couple of hours, the agent came back with some good news.
We can get you home on a flight but you have to pay a small charge.
That’s no problem thank you so much
The best we can do is Bristol airport
Why can’t you put us on standby for another flight?
The agent showed us a group of 200 people and explained they were all on standby before us and some of them had been waiting for 2 days.
With mum having me there it was not possible especially with no money.
People should understand there were no ATM machines around either and even if there was they would not accept a card from Britain so it was in many ways like the dark ages.
You could get people to send money via Western Union but it wasn’t straightforward whatsoever.
So we chilled out for a couple of hours and later that night we boarded our plane home.
Well home as in the UK clearly Bristol is a long way from home.
The only reason we were able to pull off this lie was due to poor technology.
In modern-day everything can be checked with the touch of a button and you cant get away with anything.
Even when you have made a genuine mistake most of the time the airlines will just tell you to fuck off.
We were back in the olden days though and people would actually post letters and it would take so much more planning to make these holidays happen.
There was a lot of miscommunication and a lot of times the travel companies and the airlines didn’t communicate well so we used this to our advantage.
I remember being sat on the plane ready to go home and there not being any of the initial excitement like when we were arriving.
This was the only family holiday me and mum had so thankfully it was the best experience ever.
When I moved to Zante in 2014 with the view of buying a bar she came out for a week to see me and that was also really nice but it was a big gap between holidays and it just reinforces what I’ve said in other blogs about making the most of the time you have.
We landed in Bristol and needed to get to the bus station and got into a conversation with a young couple just coming home from their honeymoon.
We ended up sharing a taxi to the bus station with them and they disappeared into the crowd of people all wanting to get home.
Unfortunately, all of the coaches to Liverpool were full so we had to get a coach to Birmingham and try again when we got there as this was the main bus depot and there would likely be more buses heading north.
I slept most of the way to Birmingham as I had been on many bus journeys and there was nothing exciting about hours of travel.
We got to Birmingham and got a connecting bus to Liverpool.
Carol was panicking at this stage as her money was disappearing fast.
We had also got back to Britain where everything was so expensive again so we had to get home and then she could walk into the bank and get some money out and be solvent again.
I honestly don’t understand how people used to manage like this.
If you run out of money on a night out if your mate couldn’t loan you then your night was over.
The flip side to that was that more people used to drink locally so it would be a case of walking home and getting more money.
A lot of the local pubs of the day have closed for good but below in the link shows some great Liverpool pubs that are still here and going strong.
Still people today really don’t understand how lucky they are with all of these things that we myself included are just taken for granted.
Another thing that is completely taken for granted is shops always being open.
I remember telling my mate’s sister whos 19 that on a Wednesday afternoon or on a Sunday everything was shut.
She thought this was hilarious and wasn’t really having it saying things like you could just go down to Asda.
Fucks sake girl Asda didn’t exist.
So we pull into Liverpool finally and get off the bus with all of our luggage.
England really didn’t let us down it was pissing down and freezing. You can always count on the British weather to bring you back to reality with a short sharp shock.
Carol had twenty pence left so she had to hope whoever she rang to come to pick us up would be home as this was long before the days of mobile phones.
She rang John Coomes and he came to pick us up and within twenty minutes he turned up in his van to take us home.
John was an interesting character but he died about 15 years ago, unfortunately.
I don’t have any pictures of him but mum bought me a He-Man money box which is the absolute ringer for him, well without the muscles.
John had made his money in the 60s and 70s smuggling hash from places like Morocco and Turkey back into the UK.
He was involved in antiques and had his fingers in a few pies.
He was a cool guy but shockingly mean he could peel an orange in his pocket.
He had so many cool stories and it was sad but no surprise when he died. He hadn’t taken care of himself and I think one day his heart just stopped.
I would have to get clarification on how he died but it was a shame either way.
We pulled into Parkfield road and I realised Knightrider was starting in 5 minutes.
This was my favorite TV show was huge in the 80s. It starred David Hasselhoff as a criminal who is assassinated.
In reality, though he isn’t and they fake his death and give him a new identity.
He then is given a talking car called KITT and him and his team fight criminals who are above the law.
I don’t care what anyone says but for an 8-year-old that’s good TV.
A word of warning they remade the series and it was given the name Knightrider 2000 and it’s awful.
Even if you only watch the first episode that’s thirty minutes of your life you will never get back.
The original series although it’s incredibly dated is still a great show. The intro music was my ringtone for about 2 years.
So we were home and had a great time and I was watching TV and going to be sleeping in my own bed that night.
All seemed a little bit too perfect and you better believe shit was going to be turned upside down very soon.