Always eager for a bargain any particular deal, Mr Paterson, short plump, with a balding head, decided that once again the holiday to Sri Lanka was going to be on the cheap. Remembering that he’d read in the past in some irrelevant magazine that Pakistanis had a particular fetish for gold coins, Mr Paterson made it his mission to come across some gold coins and strike up a deal with the Pakistani travel agency. Finally retrieving an exceptionally bulky bag of coins from a tiny back street shop in the Portobello Road, he made his way to a Travel Agent above the laundrettes in Lambs Connate Street. Two Pakistani men ran the Travel Agent and as expected Mr Paterson was very susceptible to any convincing offer that came his way. The deal consisted of a change over flight in Karachi, Pakistan. Then on to Sri Lanka, this deal worked both ways.
So, once again Mr Paterson and his wife found themselves travelling economy class on a remarkably unusual airline that no one had ever heard of, which somehow only seemed to be surviving by the skin of its teeth. The deal had gone well for Mr Paterson; twenty gold coins in exchange for a trip for two for three weeks to Sri Lanka; the only slight annoyance was that they had to sit in transit for three hours at Karachi.
Once in Sri Lanka Mr Paterson’s weakness for bargains escalated to the extent that he began to invest in bundles of twigs for their “healing powers”. This was a particularly ingenious con that the local criminals inflicted on the new tourists and Mr Paterson was no different from any other stupid tight fisted Englishman. The greatness of Mr Paterson’s attachment to these healing twigs grew to the extent that he insisted on purchasing four bundles of fifty before they returned to England along with five hundred of the best French Gauloise cigarettes.
As the plane descended into Karachi, Mr Paterson gathered all his precious twigs together, in eager excitement and desperation, constantly checking that no fragment of twig was left behind. Mr Paterson decided that leaving his precious twigs on the plane would turn the so far blissfully peaceful holiday to a chaotic end. As Mr and Mrs Paterson headed towards the Transit lounge where they were due to wait for six hours for their connecting flight to England, Mr Paterson suddenly realised in utter disbelief that by some dreadful lapse he had left his precious five hundred packs of Gauloise cigarettes on the plane.
Throwing the ‘prized twigs’ to the floor, forgetting their implausible worth, Mr Paterson strode hastily around the transit lounge in search of assistance, and when none was found to the absolute incredulity of the thirty year old he strode onto the runway.
Right at that moment, Mr Paterson had one main aim in life and that was to find his dear cigarettes that by some terrible blunder he had left on the aeroplane. Owing to the fact that Mr Paterson had left the Transit lounge in such haste without giving his actions a second thought. The fat plump man was rather daunted by the sight ahead of him because every aeroplane that was parked on the Tarmac belonged to PIA (Pakistani Airways). Not however intimidated by this detail, he strode on with just as much determination as before. On coming to the first aeroplane, not thinking of the consequences of his behaviour he ascended the first flight of steps.
To the shock and astonishment of the Englishman, he came face to face with a Pakistani cleaner. She was a tall, stout woman with a look of unbelievable determination on her face. Mr Paterson thought she looked the strong wilful type. So being the upright English gentleman that he was, he decided to ask her in his most perfect English that had she by any chance come across a pack of five hundred French Gauloise cigarettes. The Pakistani woman just seemed to look at him in absolute distrust and carried on cleaning. Soon grasping that the cigarettes were evidently to be found elsewhere. As Mr Paterson left the first aeroplane, he did not hear the Pakistani cleaner raise the alarm.
Making his way to the next plane, still just as set on the idea that his cigarettes would be there. Nothing was going to stand in the way of Mr Paterson and the finding of his cigarettes; if you could have seen him you would have seen the lines of resolve on his face. Mr Paterson checked the second and third plane, but yet there was no sign of the Gauloise cigarettes. Not down hearted by this reality Mr Paterson continued with his escapade. After leaving the fourth aeroplane he suddenly noticed that there were twenty enormous Pakistani giants. Who were running towards the aeroplane holding guns? Mr Paterson thinking nothing of it wondered what kind of scandal was going on now and decided that after finding his cigarettes (which was of course his number one priority) he would make it his charge to find out.
On board the fifth aeroplane Mr Paterson searched just as before. And again the cigarettes were not found. As he descended the aeroplane at the back he found himself looking straight down the barrel of a high powered rifle. Bewildered and alarmed Mr Paterson shouted that he couldn’t believe and this there had to be some sort of mistake.
‘You’re under arrest if you come this way we will escort you to our captain’ said the Pakistani giant in faultless English.
As the upright Englishman was escorted from the Runway to the main airport building, tourists and locals looked at him in utter abhorrence. Mr Paterson thoroughly baffled could not understand why he had been arrested in this manner, when he had done nothing to warrant such discomfiture.
Mr Paterson was accompanied to an Interrogation room, which was wholly bare apart from two chairs and a solitary table. Armed guards stood outside the door and it dawned on him that this was a serious situation, but he was nonplussed about how he had got there, when he had done nothing dishonest. But then again you could never be sure with theses foreign countries’ maybe looking for cigarettes was a deceitful thing to do, he thought to himself.
After an agonising fifteen minutes, in the Interrogation room an English-speaking captain came in holding a cup of coffee in his hand. Mr Paterson being of the ignorant type believed that the Captain was bringing him coffee, and proceeded to try to obtain the coffee from the hand of the Captain. The Captain being so shocked by this mad raving lunatic of an Englishman let Mr Paterson take the coffee, and when Mr Paterson offered thanks, the Captain was so taken back that he had to steady himself.
After the Captain had composed himself, he shuffled the consequential papers that he had with him and began.
‘Now Mr Paterson, we deal with the idea of bombing very seriously in this country and the laws are very strict here. Anyone who tries to commit atrocities like this is sentenced to death.’
Jumped up at indignation at these words the fat Englishman proclaimed that he had been arrested under false pretences, and that by no means was he a terrorist bomber, but an upright Englishman of perfect refinement. He in fact was looking for five hundred Gauloise cigarettes, which he had left on the aeroplane that he had flown in on, and by any chance had they been found.
At this story the Captain looked at Mr Paterson and let out a howl of laughter, and clapped his hands together. He acknowledged that never had he heard such a stream of lies come from one person’s mouth in all his life. Mr Paterson was exasperated with this inconceivable, arrogant young Captain who held him in such little regard.
‘I promise you that I was looking for my CIGARETTES!’ he bellowed, who becoming furious had jumped up and crashed his hands down on the table. At this three Pakistani guards erupted into the room, and aimed their no doubt loaded guns at Mr Paterson. Mr Paterson instantaneously placed his hands in the air in a custom that showed he was ready to back down.
The Captain was beginning to suspect that maybe there was some truth in what Mr Paterson was saying. To look at there was no representation of a terrorist bomber; he was short fat and balding, wearing a navy T-shirt that bulged at the belly, with beige shorts which were too big and hung around his hips. To top things off there were the white socks pulled up just above the ankles with the trainers. The English had no taste the Captain thought. Maybe this crude Englishman was perhaps just looking for his precious cigarettes. He seemed of the cheapskate, materialistic breed.
Mr Paterson now was brimming with rage and anxiety (for his flight back to England and wife). He was restless, and began to tap his feet against the floor.
‘TAP, TAP, TAPETY, TAP’
After some interrogation, and having conferred with his colleagues, the Captain said conclusively
‘Mr Paterson, I think that perhaps there has been a slight error, and we have got your intentions wrong.’
‘Now if you would let us accompany you back to your wife and awaiting flight, we will try and make the rest of your stay in Pakistan airport as pleasing as possible.’
Mr Paterson, perplexed and astonished was dumbstruck. Walking through the airport towards the transit lounge seemed like a dream to him. Once catching sight of his wife however he quickly managed to regain his arrogant strut. Mrs Paterson, who was concerned and distressed due to the sudden disappearance of her husband, was relieved at the sight of him. He had forgotten in all the confusion about how he had just abruptly left her with not a word.
When Mrs Paterson’s inquisitive questions of ‘Where have you been? ‘
‘What have you done? ‘
‘Who are these people?’
All he could say in reply was ‘I was looking for my cigarettes? But I never found them.’