In a flashback to the heady days of dot.com boom TPR and I flew to South Africa for an all-expenses paid incentive holiday in Pretoria. I was looking forward to comparing the twenty-first century experience of corporate excess with that of the 1990s, particularly now that it was possible to give a running commentary on the event to everyone back home, thanks to Twitter and Facebook.
Unfortunately not everything went to plan. Our first mishap at was at immigration, where we forgot to collect and fill in the correct forms. More serious was our entanglement with a family of professional baggage thieves. They crept up from behind and switched my shiny new John Lewis ruby suitcase for a battered black carry-on. The replacement was so light and flimsy that I spotted the change almost immediately. My shriek of “Thief!” spurred TPR to make chase and apprehend the culprits. He knew how important it was to retrieve my belongings: inside my suitcase were all the plugs and leads for my iPhone, iPad, MacAir, Kindle etc.
The rest of the thieving family looked on in horror when TPR grabbed the father and pinned him to the ground. They sensibly admitted their crime and agreed to take us to their make-shift home at the edge of the airport. Here my case would be found amongst their cache of stolen goods.
Inside the house the mother tried to win me over by boasting that one of her daughters had read the entire repertoire of Mills and Boon. I replied haughtily “I have a PhD in Computing. Why would that interest me?” I wasn’t there to make friends. I just wanted my suitcase back.
Mission accomplished, we returned to the terminal ready to start the next stage of the journey, travelling across the desert to meet everyone else at our 5 star resort hotel. TPR was keen to spot African wildlife from the coach window. Meanwhile I was distracted by my sparkly haul from the thieving family’s treasure trove. On every finger I wore at least one item of silver jewellery, including two Tiffany diamond engagement rings. Even more impressive was the huge medieval silver crown that I would wear on my head for the full duration of the holiday.