Marni and I had filled our back packs to last the summer. It would be hot. We didn’t bother with sleeping bags – just two double pink floral sheets that Marni’s mum gave us. That would do for sleeping under, sunbathing on and drying ourselves. We took our necessary hair clippers, Walkman (with two inputs for two sets of headphones) and a pile of bootleg cassettes I’d been collecting. All set. I loved flying, I loved the food in the plastic trays and free drink, I loved surfing with the turbulence, I loved collecting the plastic cutlery/salt/pepper because I knew it would all come in useful at some point. We got to Gatwick early so we could check in and get the smoking seats at the back of the plane. The holiday had begun.
Arriving at Corfu airport was chaotic. At baggage reclaim there was only one conveyor belt and it was broken down, we waited for what seemed like hours (our baggage would have been small enough to take on the plane but in those days baggage came free with your flight). Our back packs were finally thrown out onto the now moving belt. I could see the barrel of my luminous green water pistol, poking out from the top of the sack amongst the club 18-30’s suitcases – I was sure I’d packed the gun at the bottom. We’d packed toys with us too, just like we’d done on Brownie pack holidays where Marni and I had become best friends. We had back gammon, Barbie and Ken dolls (with changes of clothes) and a dog lead if we needed to take our imaginary pet Spot for a run along the beach or a walk through the village. Our hair not enough to get the attention craved.
We walked out of the airport up to the main road, it was still morning despite the long wait. The heat hit us. We stopped at the side of the road to take t-shirts off and replace with bikini tops. Marni took longer, she always took longer, fumbling about in her rucksack. I lit a fag and waved my arms at an old Greek man with donkey and cart.
“How far is Corfu town?” I asked and the man stopped, beckoned us onto the back of the cart and we climbed aboard and sat among some large tins of what we thought would be olive oil. I sat on some sort of liquid that began to burn through the pvc of my mini skirt, it wasn’t olive oil.
“Fuck this Marni, it’ll take forever.” I had this sticky black stuff on my hands, Marni handed me a tissue, she was more patient than I. The donkey kept slowing down and stopping, the old man kept looking behind at us, chuckling with a no teeth grin. It was easy to jump out of the cart and we began walking again, with thumbs out. A young Greek lad on a moped stopped “Kalimera!” he beckoned us to get on the bike. He took my rucksack and put it in front of him and I squeezed between him and Marni. “Pelekas!” I said and after a short bumpy ride he dropped us off in a square in Corfu town.
“Pelekas beach!” he said pointing at the bus stop. We slid off the bike and he sped off. Buses pulled in and out from the square as new travellers joined us in the No. 11 bus queue for Pelekas.