Mal voyage

Mal voyage

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In Competition No. 2397 you were invited to supply an acrostic poem, the first letter of each line to spell out TRAVEL TROUBLES.

I had my share of these recently. The Saturday flight to Milan was cancelled. Our tickets were adjusted (incorrectly, it turned out) for Sunday. On Sunday the flight is cancelled again, but a bus is promised to take us to Milan with a free overnight stay at a hotel — subito! Finalmente a bus appears and after a nine-hour journey deposits us at a frightful hotel at 3 a.m., where we are told that we shall be alarm-called in one hour’s time for further bussing to an airport 50 kilometres away. No apologies, no explanations, no food. I was tempted to make the acrostic DON’T FLY ALITALIA but thought better of it.

£30 to Godfrey Bullard and £25 each to the other prizewinners printed below.Tired of our weather, impatient for sun?

Restless, frustrated and wanting some fun?
Are you demanding a cure for the blues?
Voyage away on a tropical cruise!
Errors abound, though: insurance not paid,
Luggage unlabelled or tickets mislaid:
Threats of disaster encompass each trip;
Ruinous storms may imperil the ship,
Odious passengers, cheery or crude,
Ugly bacilli that lurk in the food ...
Berthing at last! Joy is swiftly diminished:
Luxury quarters? They’re barely half finished.
England’s the place for the bored and depressed;
Sensible people remain here and rest!
Godfrey Bullard

The desk clerk had no record of my booking.

Rude as he was, I’d no choice but to leave.
A hotel was my goal, so I went looking.
Violence was what the town had up its sleeve.
Enter, stage left, two opportunist muggers
Looking for easy pickings — which was me.
They took my wallet and my phone, the buggers;
Rough welcomes seemed to be my destiny.
On to the plod-shop, where two lazy coppers,
Unshaven and indifferent, took my name,
Behaving as if I were telling whoppers.
Legality to them was just a game.
Each moment of my visit was sheer pain.
Still, I’m not going to Basingstoke again.
G.M. Davis

Train cancelled; repairs to the track.

Road works in Watford, long tailback.
Air traffic stacked up; vast delay,
Vain hope our plane will leave today.
Even if journeys start as planned,
Luggage is X-rayed, we must stand
Through body searches, giant queues,
Rude, squawking infants, filthy loos,
Overhead voices bellowing shrill,
Unfathomable gibberish, till
Battered and numb we reach a seat —
Legroom restricted, swollen feet,
Eating dry chicken, movies ‘in-flight’
Soundless flashing through the night.
Shirley Curran

Tandem-riding in the Pyrenees

Removed knee cartilage from its rightful place,
Adventures with a donkey in Belize
Very nearly rearranged my face.
Estonia has my right incisor still
Left buried after one disastrous trip;
The virus that attacked me in Brazil
Retains a chronic, gut-contorting grip.
Oh, travel has its benefits, I know,
Untrammelling the narrow daily grind,
But why is it that everywhere I go
Lurk souvenirs I never had in mind?
Enticing as escape may sometimes seem,
So often it is better left as dream.
W.J. Webster

The tube? — on strike; take the replacement bus.

Road works mean gridlock though the suburbs,
And all traffic lights are red to Heathrow, plus
Violent storms mean inward flights can’t land.
Each check-in desk’s a shuffling, shambling queue
Losing their passports, tickets, wallets, wits;
The scanner’s down; they’ve closed the ladies’ loo;
Read about DVT, so, scared to bits,
Onboard, squashed in between two overweight
Unaware armrest-hoggers, I want home.
But then we’re off — and only ten hours late;
Luggage in Lima — shame that we’re in Rome,
Especially as it takes two weeks to track
Suitcases down, by which time we’ve come back.
D.A. Prince

Traffic controllers threaten flight delays.

Rough seas prevent the ferry setting sail.
At airports drunken yobbos lounge and laze.
Vandals ensure there’s danger going by rail.
Endless the searches to confirm you’re you;
Long, weary queues move slowly through each gate.
Then touring, when you photograph a view,
Robbers with skilful fingers lie in wait.
On foreign streets the world is in your face,
Urchins come begging, traders bid you buy.
Beaches are packed with crowds that cram each space,
Loud music blares, abandoned children cry.
Escape the pains of Paris, Athens, Rome;
Stay trouble-free and holiday at home.
Frank Mc Donald

No. 2400: Herculean task

You are invited to write a sonnet picturing one of Hercules’ labours. Entries to ‘Competition No. 2400’ by 7 July.