The joys of Travel


O Muse, I sing of budget flights:
Packaged escapes to package delights . . .

Check-in at dawn: we’re walking dead,
Wishing we were at home in bed;
Haggard and pale, our bowels uneasy,
Our armpits moist, our stomachs queasy,
We shuffle in line to be X-rayed
And searched, and see our underwear displayed.
Once through, we drift obedientlee
From shopping-mall to Duty Free,
Where escalators softly rise and fall,
Endlessly going nowhere at all.
With time to kill and no escape,
We’re perfect targets for consumer rape:
We order breakfasts we don’t need,
Buy books and mags we’ll never read,
And, glumly gazing at a screen,
Await the words “PROCEED TO GATE 15”.


Aboard at last! We’re sandwiched in,
Our knees wedged up against our chins.
“Welcome to CheapoJet!” the speaker blares:&
“The no-frills airline with rock-bottom fares!
Fasten your belts: Flight 242
Is cleared for take-off to Corfu.
(We are not liable for diagnosis
Of subsequent Deep Vein Thrombosis)”.
The aisle vibrates, the cabin throbs
With bloated bodies and foul-mouthed yobs
All tanked up for a hard night’s binge.
Am I a snob? They make me cringe.
I wonder if it’s fair on poor old Greece
To export the mindless and morbidly obese?

I’ve been to this island once before,
In June, 1964.
The boat from Bari (there were no flights then)
Brought me here, and took me back again.
I went into a dockside bar
To get my bearings. A boozy old tar
Told me Nisáki, across the bay,
Would be a friendly place to stay.
I took a boat, and spent four happy weeks:

fishing, exploring, and loving Greeks.
My room was a tiny white-washed cell
Under the village shop (a bar as well).

Nisáki is gone now, vanished without trace:
Hotels have mushroomed in its place.
Trippers come in by CheapoJet in hordes;
Eat chips, get burnt, get drunk, and say they’re bored.

If Nisáki’s simple grace has not survived,
What else has been destroyed since we arrived?