The International Date Line

For many years now, people have been led to believe that the International Date Line is a geographical construct designed to differentiate between two calendar days. It sits, by international agreement, at 180° longitude but deviates around various nations to accommodate their desired time zone.

Therefore, depending on your direction of travel, it is possible to leave on one day, travel thousands of miles and arrive before you left, thus effectively having two of the same day. Or, in reverse, you can skip an entire day altogether. This can be very useful if you’re prone to forget your wife’s birthday or want to avoid a family celebration.

“Sorry, darling, I didn’t forget. I crossed the International Date Line on my way home and missed your birthday!”

“The family reunion was yesterday? How did that happen?”

Useful, confusing or annoying, depending on your point of view, the International Date Line is a fallacy, an international conspiracy of epic proportions. The reality is that the International Date Line is exactly that – a date line. The following is a transcript of a recent call. (Not mine, of course.)

“Good morning. You’ve reached the International Date Line. You’re speaking with Sven. How may I help?

“Good morning Sven. I’m travelling to Uzbekistan on holiday soon and I wanted to arrange a date.”

“Of course. That’s no problem. I’ll just take a few details and run through the various plans on offer. Then we’ll check availability. Will this be a one-off trip or part of a global excursion?”

“Hmm. I don’t know. I haven’t really thought that far ahead.”

“The Global package is our best value. We can arrange dates for you in 74 countries. Though not on the same day of course. Ha ha ha.”

I thought my jokes were bad.

“Can you describe yourself briefly?”

“Male. Average height. Average weight. Average intelligence. Financially and emotionally insecure. Is that brief enough?”

“Perfect. Now, what sort of date are you looking for?”

“I was thinking of something like the 20th of April. I’ve always liked that date.”

Move over Tinder, eHarmony, Match.com etc.

Stephen Tomkins
12 June 2017
Bangkok

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Hammer Drill

Unearthly drills, and hammers too,
Roam the world just like I do.
At the same hotels, they stay
And follow when I move away.

No matter when I choose to rest,
That’s the time they think it best
To hammer, drill and grind away,
And so, awake I have to stay.

At last, I reach that special place
Where, off my skull, now slides my face.
Bombs may burst beside my head
But I’ll sleep on just like the dead.

Stephen Tomkins
14 March 2017
Hong Kong

All For Nought

Pushed back early, joined the queue,
Did all we could really do.
Flew all night, increased the speed,
Gently urged our noble steed.
Right course steered, the sun appeared,
At last the destination neared.
Commenced descent, the clouds were rent,
The bright approach lights heaven sent.
Touchdown nice, reverse applied,
Braked and airspeed slowly died.
A hint of satisfaction now
(Well, we could hardly take a bow!).
And then hit by a hammer blow –
No parking bay, so taxi slow!
After all we’d had to do
To get connecting passengers through!
We found a taxiway unused
And there we sat with more fuel used.
At least we weren’t the only ones
As fuel burned up in metric tonnes!
A selfish aircraft, so delayed,
Blocked the bay for which we’d paid.
At last, to push they finally asked,
In sweet relief, we briefly basked.
A false alarm: they’d closed the door
With some ground staff still on board!
Finally, they pushed and left
And ceased their terminal tenure theft!
At least the airport owner’s pleased,
With every inch of tarmac leased!

Stephen Tomkins
16 March 2017
Sydney

 No prizes for guessing which airport!

Red Balloon

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I float through the world like a big red balloon –

Drifting and dreaming and bumping along,

Borne on the currents of breeze and monsoon,

Collecting experiences, none right nor wrong.

Behind and below me, there trails my long string,

If you want my attention, then give it a tug,

But don’t get excited, I don’t plan a thing

‘Cause I live for the moment, a kiss or a hug.

If I’m floating off, you can drag me your way

And I’ll happily follow along for a while

Till a zephyr distracts me and I’m borne away.

But don’t be upset, I’ll depart with a smile.

The winds are so fickle, I may soon return

From brand new adventures with tall tales to tell.

At some point, perhaps, for a home I may yearn:

Only love will entice me off this carousel.

 

Stephen Tomkins
19 October 2016
Sydney

Photo credit:
Pinterest

The Sweetest Thing

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The sun has packed up and gone home for the night,
Leaving behind a soft silvery light.
The sea has now dressed in a purplish blue,
And clouds are all lilac to fit in there too.
A heavenly breeze whispers subtle deceit,
Caressing away the day’s tropical heat.
But while my surroundings idyllic may be,
I remember that nothing in life comes for free –
Except the free-given love of that someone,
Unearned, undeserved, moulding two into one.

Stephen Tomkins
29 September 2016
Honolulu

Photo credit:
wallpaperup.com

Time Traveller

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TV scenes flash on the screen of my mind
As I slowly start to relax and unwind.
Sweet frangipani has scented the air
And palm trees wave spindly hands in the air.
Sky’s perfect canvas of crimson and blue
Is brushed by cotton ball clouds drifting through.
Waters of turquoise and deep blue most royal
Inspire the timid and lovers most loyal.
A constant parade of those seeking the sun,
They come in their mobs and their twos and their ones.

And though I may seem altogether right here,
I’m split largely in between time zones, I fear.
Lost in a fog of my sacrificed sleep,
My body clock chimes with a resonance deep.
Tomorrow, I’ll once more be up in the air,
Leaving behind the poor Earthlings their cares.
Soon enough, though, I’ll be back on the ground
And by the real world I will once more be found –
The visions of places and people I’ve seen
Will seem little more than a half-faded dream.

Stephen Tomkins
29 September 2016
Honolulu

Sorry For Being Born

The-Overly-Excited

Arrive at airport, cap in hand.
My bags are packed, my travel planned.
“Oh! The glamour!” you may think
But I’ll be treated like I stink!

As airline staff on cheap staff travel,
All careful plans will now unravel.
So I approach the hallowed desk
Where staff may check-in at their risk.

Like an insect, I am viewed
And told to wait in voices rude.
In holding pen, we congregate
And hopefully await our fate.

In muted tones, we quiz each other
And try obliquely to discover
Just where we fit into the list –
My category must be higher than this!

At last they start to call some names,
And so begin the churlish games.
Those lucky few will get on board,
The rest of us will sit here, bored.

Like music to my weary ears,
I hear my name as chaos clears.
They take my bag, give me a pass,
And tell me, “Move your bloody arse!”

I sprint now to the Customs queue.
Amidst the throng, I wrestle through.
On my watch, I check the time –
My God! How long’s this frappin’ line!

Finally, I get on board,
Wedged between two giants! Lord!
So strong the scent of garlic is,
There’ll be no vampires here for years!

I’ll need no seatbelt come what may:
Restrained by blubber, I will stay.
Come meal-time, there’ll be nothing left.
Cheap travel is a wondrous gift!

JHJ

Stephen Tomkins
7 January 2016
Sydney

Photo credits:

http://www.businessworldtravel.com
theegyptiantraveler.blogspot.com
acollectionofmusings.wordpress.com