Today's Reading

The supervisor shrugs and checks his watch. He has a trillion people to get through to airside, and his decision is made.

'You're serious?' I ask him. 'I'm making this special trip to scatter the ashes and I've got to leave them here?'

'Yes. I'm afraid that's pretty much it. Unless you've got some form of proof that they are what you say they are.' He pauses, trying to soften the bad news. 'Why don't you just go anyway? Prague's a lovely place. Especially this time of year.'

'But there'll be no point. I can't scatter ashes I haven't got.'

'I'm afraid that's your problem, madam. We'll give you a proper receipt, of course. The process should take a couple of weeks. We can courier the container back to you but I'm afraid there'll be a charge.'

'And the test? The analysis?'

'We may be able to offer you a discount on that. I'll have to check.'

I'm getting angry now but the passengers behind me are beginning to stir. I'm an actress by profession, and while I'm no stranger to public performance, this particular script is starting to wear thin.

'I've changed my mind.' I reach for the container.

'I'll scatter him somewhere else. Anywhere round here you might recommend?'

My sarcasm is wasted on the supervisor. He makes a dismissive gesture towards the container and turns away. 'Poor Pavel', I think, screwing his top on again, and then repacking my suitcase.

I make my way back against the tidal wave of passengers, escorted by another security guard, and phone Malo from the main concourse. Pavel, I know, would have found the last ten minutes of my life richly entertaining. Ever subversive, he'd have loved the thought of his remains being tested for explosives. All his life, privately and professionally, he'd been unpredictable, dangerous, ignoring conventions, breaking new ground, and even in death, it turns out that his reputation won't leave him alone. 'Mum? You've landed already? That's gotta be a world record.' It's Malo.

'Sadly not.' I tell him about my encounter with airport security.

'You've got his ashes? And you want to drop them off some bridge?'

'I do.'

'That's gross.'

'That's what the supervisor thought.'

'I don't blame him. Why don't you scatter him on the garden of remembrance or whatever? Plant a rosebush on top? Just like everyone else?'

'Because he wasn't everyone else,' I say firmly. 'And neither am I. We're going to Prague, come what may.'


'Me and Pavel.'


'Listen...' I've had time to think this through. I want my darling boy to drive me to Folkestone. We can put his Audi on the Eurotunnel. There are virtually no checks and once we get to Calais, Pavel and I can take a train to Brussels, and then another to Prague.

'And me?'

'You pop back to Folkestone. Job done.' I try smiling at the phone. 'I'm seeing your father next week. We'll be discussing your new apartment.'

Malo mumbles something I don't fully catch about his mates in Brighton. He says he'll have to make a call, then phone me back. I say fine, and then hang up.

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