Giles had been looking forward to his weekend break after three weeks of continuous night shifts. Shortage of staff caused by Br….; he couldn’t bring himself to say the word. Things were not getting off to the best start; the taxi was late. He was just about to call in when his phone rang, “Sorry Mr Walker, but the driver has gone to Wood Lane instead of Wood Street, he will be with you in a moment”, and indeed just then, the taxi appeared. On route to the airport the driver talked incessant drivel. Why couldn’t they just drive and say nothing? As the taxi approached the airport turnoff, there was clearly a problem as the tailback came into view. Fortunately Giles, being the cautious type, had given himself plenty of time to check in. He was still relieved however, when the incident was quickly resolved and the taxi delivered him to departures.

Having previously mastered the on-line check in, he went immediately to security, to be met with the shoe and belt removal team. The procedure of disrobing resulted in his entire coin collection tipping from his pockets before he was able to get them into the tray and in the scramble to collect the escapees, his mobile phone deposited itself on the floor. Finally everything was in the tray and as it disappeared into the x-ray machine, he was called forward to the body scanner. By this stage he would have been disappointed if it had not screeched at his attempt to pass through. The human search operative waved his wand, gave him the all clear and Giles collected his belongings to escaped to the duty free area.

Ignoring the expensive tax-free offers, he found that the delay on route meant that the departure gate was already open and he went directly to the apparently newly installed passport checking machines. His frustration rose further as the device rejected his advances. He tried the passport one way, then the other, he stared at the screen with his glasses on and off, but still the infernal machine was saying “thou shall not pass.” He was rescued by a staff member who seemed to be very familiar with the vagaries of the device.

When, finally he boarded the aircraft, Giles wondered why he was surprised that the person in the seat next to him was XXL. Surely it was only to be expected. He was just beginning to prepare himself to fight for space on the three hour journey when his large neighbour was offered another seat, only to be replaced with a mother and child. Miraculously, the flight continued in relative calm and he prepared himself for the weekend in his three star garden view hotel room, near the beach As they began to descend, the pilot came on the cabin address system to give an update on the weather. There had been an unexpected thunderstorm and that, combined with exceptionally high tides, had resulted in some localised flooding.

In the taxi ride from the airport, Giles looked in horror at the biblical scene. He began to feel sick as he approached the front of the hotel which had clearly been affected by the flood and he could see damaged furniture strewn at the side of the main entrance. Even before he reached the reception desk, the manager approached. “I really am sorry but the room you booked has been damaged in the flood. However we have been able to get you into our Five Star All – Inclusive sister hotel, in a Garden View, Beachfront Room at no extra cost. I hope that will be satisfactory”.

The shock was too much and he felt himself tumble to the floor as the grey mist descended into darkness. There was always the hint of something around him and gradually the light at the end of the tunnel began to brighten and finally he could make out a plain white room where he was lying in a white bed and over him stood a woman in white; with a clip board.

“I’m afraid we will have to keep you in here for the rest of the weekend, do you have holiday insurance”?