Before coming out here to Goa, I’d never left Europe.
All my holidays as a child were to France and Spain. I remember those fortnight-long vacations used to feel like I was travelling to another planet. The futuristic airport, the deafening sound of the jet engines and the strange warm breath of a new country as you stepped off the plane.
My name is Anne-Marie and I’ve worked for Theodore Henry Car & Son for the entirety of my working life – that’s over 30 years.
They’ve treated me well over the years, my pay has increased year-on-year and I’ve steadily rose through the ranks to become Manager of Packing. However, regardless of how well both Theodores have treated me over the decades – nothing had prepared me for my invitation to a Research trip to Goa.
The answer was always going to be ‘Yes’ – but I still faltered a little when Theo Sr. announced the team that would be going out to India.
For the last few years, the Old Man (I know he won’t mind me calling that) has come into the factory to make the big announcements.
Many of the more recent members of staff are always perplexed as to why a well dressed elderly gentleman visits the factory on a monthly basis, to talk to us all.
Those few of us who were hired by the man, all those years ago, always look forward to his rousing speeches – projected as if he were talking to a mass of a thousand.
When he mentioned my name as one of those flying out at the end of the month, I almost died. Everyone in the Department was there, they all knew who I was. So when my name was read out, they all turned to face me, with the same astounded look on their face. It wasn’t that they were jealous – they were incredulous.
My employees know me, they know I’m an old fashioned Cockney girl. I like walking my two dogs, Eastenders twice a week and a good old fashioned Fish’n’Chips on a Friday. I’m a creature of habit.
The idea of this (slightly plump) thoroughly British woman, being dumped in the heat of bustling Goa, would probably seem outlandish to anyone – let alone the ones that actually know me.
My husband almost had a heart-attack when I told him. He’s never been much of a traveller either. Forever my partner in crime, I think he was just uncomfortable with the idea of my being in a foreign country without him.
But here I am. At the age of 58, sweating, breathless but exhilarated and far, far away from home.
If you’re reading this Frankie – I’m having a ball.