every journey begins with a single step

Wise men can be a royal pain in the arse, can’t they? They’re all “never finish the day on an argument”, “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes”, “never smile at a crocodile”, etc etc. But has one of these so-called “wise men” ever tried to get from Ipswich to Stockholm on a Sunday? Have they? I doubt it. Otherwise the phrase “Don’t travel from Ipswich to Stockholm on a Sunday” would be more popular than, say, “only fools rush in where angels fear to tread”. Although, to be honest, both of these phrases mean much the same thing.

There is a bloody good reason when God created the Universe that He took a Sunday off, and it’s just so He didn’t have to fly with BMI.

The plan was so deceptively simple that it couldn’t possibly have failed. And indeed, it didn’t (I’ll never be this generation’s Agatha Christie if I continue to give away the endings of tales before they’ve even begun, but hey-ho).

The plan was this (clicks “Add Bullets” icon):

  1. Leave Ipswich and arrive at Colchester to catch taxi to Heathrow
  2. Travel in cab to Heathrow terminal 1 to catch flight to Manchester
  3. Calmly wander from Manchester terminal 5 to Manchester terminal 3
  4. Catch flight from Manchester to Stockholm
  5. Arrive, refreshed and relaxed, in order to get some sleep before the week’s work

I managed (1.) very nicely, thank you. Although maybe the ol’ lead foot was applied to ensure I got to Colchester in good time.

Our taxi driver, fully aware that he was about 7 minutes late and needed to pull what is known as “a rabbit out of a hat” in order to get us to Heathrow in time for us to check-in, annouces that he’s got to stop off and get some diesel on the way “as Tescos has run out”. In order to ensure that we almost-but-not-quite missed our flight, he drove the entire way down the centre lane of the motorway at 55 mph.

Obviously, in this day and age, and fully aware that my own carbon footprint is slightly elephantine, good on ya. I’m all for getting the most out of a gallon o’gas. However, when your customers are champing at the bit to make sure they get their flight, maybe, just maybe, you could do what we in the trade like to call “the speed limit”. This is set at 70 mph, and allows cars to travel a full 15 mph more than when the car is in “economy mode”. It also stops us hunting you down on our return and executing you. It would also have stopped us from sending you the bill for the therapy we’ll need to get over the stress-enduced anxiety you caused.

A further tip for any would-be taxi drivers is that you should ensure that when dropping people off so they can get on an aeroplane, you go to Departures. Not Arrivals.

I’ll leave you, dear Reader, to work out where Johnny B. Driver took us.

The BMI “Auto check in” knew nothing of us. So much for our “e-Tickets”. The lovely lady behind the sales desk was able to find our late bookings and printed some boarding passes for us. We were then directed to the Business Class check-in desk so that our bags could be weighed, tagged, dropped, dropped again, and finally trodden-on by various members of the baggage-handling staff.

There was a trainee on the Business Class check-in desk and it took about 20 minutes for the three of us to be given three further pairs of tickets. Be assured that there was a significant queue once we were done, and a lot of people who had paid a lot of money were now quite sure they should have gone Economy.

Once we’d made it through Security, all escaping that most lubricated of cavity searches, the gate beckoned. Gate Eight, we were told, swiftly noting that, in fact we were departing immediately from Gate Seven.

Immediately is a funny word. Outside of airports, immediately tends to conjure up a vision of something happening instantly. “Perkins!” a boss can yell, “I require that report on the Asian markets immediately!” and Perkins had better bloody deliver that report within the next 20 seconds, or it’s down to the Labour Exchange the following Monday morning, pink ticket in hand.

In airport parlance, immediately is defined as “come and sit on a bus parked next to the plane on the runway for 40 minutes whilst we keep you mis-informed about what is going on”.

We had a connection to make. Time was being shaved from our hour-and-a-bit buffer as a hungry Italian goes at a chunk of parmesan cheese.

Thankfully, and despite BMI’s best efforts, we arrived in Manchester and made it through the gate for Stockholm without too much hassle. It seems our 20 minutes stood at the check-in desk was not wasted: each of us had the required boarding pass for the connecting flight. We were saved!

Except, of course, due to fog, the flight wasn’t going anywhere anyway. We got our 40 minutes back.

Eventually the flight was called. Just as I went for a pee. Of course.

So, we get here, get a cab, get to the hotel, get to our rooms and I spend the night not sleeping.

This morning I was delighted to discover that not only did my eyes look like pissholes in the snow, but also the now famously careful baggage handlers had done a dainty dance on my can of underarm deodorant. This gentle tango has smashed it up and covered the inside of one of the outer pockets of my bag in many and varied aluminium compounds. This means I cannot spray any out of the can any more and it has had to be thrown out. This also means I very probably steeenk. And of course on the way back to the UK, our baggage handling chums can ditch my luggage into a bin somewhere, claim it’s suffering from altzheimer’s and has forgotten to turn up.

I can only imagine the delights tomorrow holds.

Thank God for Swedish women. They are all, without exception, sexy as hell*.

*And you know how I hate to generalise. Most of the time.

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One Response to every journey begins with a single step

  1. Unc says:

    You’re a roit Sarfaak Sweede there then!
    Abba nice day

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