Pinky's Book Link

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Pinky and Scotto's European Vacation (Part Two)


“Do you think that’s a ghost?” I asked Lulu. 

Mr Darcy: Jane Austen Centre

I was showing her a photograph taken of Mr Darcy in the Jane Austen Centre in Bath. She grabbed my phone and inspected it with the intensity of a hard-core sceptic.

“Look!” I said, swiping the phone. “It’s in this photo as well.

And if you look closely it’s in this one on the right side of me.”

“Could be your thumbprint,” Lulu sniffed.

“No, it’s not because it’s not on any other photos.” I triumphantly showed her the other photos.

“I think I can make out a face,” Lulu said.

I quickly snatched the phone back from her and turned it off. Ghosts are okay if they’re just wispy bits of fog, but I didn’t want to know about any eerie faces appearing.

“I think it was Jane herself,” I said, hugging myself with contentment. “She knew it was me coming to pay homage, so she dropped down from the ether for a visit. You know, fellow writer and all that…”

I’d become all teary when we first walked into the centre because I’d wanted to go there for so long and I love her so much.

It was definitely Jane’s spirit and not a thumbprint. Besides, according to the Singapore authorities, I don’t have thumbprints.

I was nearly captured and imprisoned on the way through Singapore to London because no matter how many times I submitted my thumbprint to security, it drew a blank. 

Smooth as a baby’s bum my thumbs are. 

For all I know, I don’t have fingerprints either.

I was innocently standing behind Scotto at Changi Airport, (who merrily scanned his thumb and walked straight through the checkpoint) when I was detained. 

Scotto didn’t see me desperately poking my thumb in the machine as he was fiddling with the luggage. A machine gun attired guard grabbed me by the arm and escorted me into a side room, demanding my passport without a smile on his face.

Naturally, whenever something like that happens, I become sweaty, nervous and highly suspicious-looking.

‘Don’t talk, Pinky,’ I muttered to myself. ‘Whatever you do, don’t start babbling on and making stupid jokes about terrorists, like last time you did at Brisbane airport. This is Singapore. They shoot people here, idiot.’

“Do you come to Singapore a lot?” the guard asked, eyeing me up and down.

“Never,” I blurted. “Well, once I did. But that was twenty years ago. I mean thirty. Thirty years ago. Thirty years ago I was here.” I grinned sheepishly.

He continued to stare at me with hard beady eyes and I could feel heat rising up from the back of my neck and sweat trickling down my face. 

I didn’t want to sweat because they might have thought I’d swallowed heroin. I've seen Border Security on the telly.

“Not that there’s anything wrong with it. It’s nice. (cough) Singapore is lovely. I wonder why I don’t have thumbprints?” I wiped a thick streak of sweat from my top lip with the back of my hand.

I could see Scotto through a glass barrier. He was looking confused, worried and more than slightly irritated that I’d seemingly disappeared into thin air.

I think the guard took a photo of me. I can’t remember because I was so anxious and was obsessing about Schapelle Corby in Bali, and rats in prison cells, and having to use my Nicorettes as collateral in jail instead of cigarettes. 

I thought about how I might finally get a book published if I had a Singaporean prison story but then I thought about missing out on my holiday to London and felt a bit miffed.

Finally, they let me through, and I tumbled out of the secret room to find Scotto looking around in a bewildered state of fury.
“Where were you?” he hissed. “You’ve got to stop disappearing on me, Pinky. I thought you’d been abducted!”

Later on, after I’d calmed down, I googled why I might have no thumbprints. Apparently, four people in a hundred have difficulty at Singapore Airport because they have worn down prints. They wear off with age, so I’m told.