After a consecutive series of delayed flights over the last week, the least I might have expected was for tonight’s flight back to Edinburgh to be shunted back, at least a little. Which would have been useful, as a points malfunction at Stratford had left me scrambling onto an overcrowded bus in order to complete my ‘rail’ journey to the epicentre of the 2012 Olympics, from where I still had to take a tube and the DLR to get to the City Airport. I hadn’t managed to get on the first bus, due to the panic instilled in my fellow travellers by being denied their timely arrival into Stratford, and the scrum that ensued.
Finally made it to check-in, with the screen showing my flight as boarding, and on to security, which had the longest queues I’ve seen there. Naturally, I joined the slowest-moving one, which is a natural gift of mine, and then forgot to take a pen out of my trouser pocket, which triggered the scanner. At which point I had to remove my shoes, belt, and all pocket contents before undergoing what amounted to a full-body grope. And an electronic sweep-down which seemed convinced that I had something metallic somewhere very personal. I know privacy campaigners are exercised by the prospect of the new X-ray scanners which display an image of you in disturbing detail through your clothing, but personally I think that’s preferable to the physical invasion of your dignity as it currently stands.
By the time I had been certified a non-terrorist, the screen was displaying ‘Gate closed’ beside my flight. Undeterred, knowing my hold baggage had gone ahead of me, I pressed on, almost breaking into a run at times despite flapping shoelaces, and less-than-secure trousers, having had no time to reinstate my belt to its rightful place.
Escorted individually to the steps of the plane by a very kind and patient member of the BA ground crew, I finally made it on to the flight ten minutes before it was due to take off.
I had eschewed the opportunity to change my seat during online check-in earlier, since having done this on the way down and yet still failed in my attempt to secure a seat with no-one beside me. Miserably. I was sat beside an absolute bear of a man. I took my seat and tried to make myself comfortable. The Bear was working his way through a puzzle book, and I could feel the pressure as I reached the crossword in the Guardian, and folded it over, in a way which suggested I had every confidence of being able to solve one or two of the clues. And what do you know, I solved 1 Across instantly. Instantly, I say. And then had a lucky run with four more in a row (in a row, I say) later on. Quite satisfied with myself, I put the paper away and re-opened Mr Trescothick’s autobiography.
The City Airport being principally used by, um, City types and pink-sweater-clad students at the London School of Economics, I was, by some distance, the scruffiest person on the flight. I love the City Airport, for its proximity to my sister’s house (points failures at Stratford notwithstanding), and its spectacular flight path in and out over the centre of London. But I can’t help but feel it wasn’t made with the likes of me in mind. Visiting the cash machine in the terminal on Monday I noticed that on selecting ‘cash withdrawal’ the amounts assigned to the screen-side buttons started at £100 and increased in multiples thereof. I selected ‘Other Amount’. On plugging into the free LCY wi-fi I was presented with a welcome screen which requested the usual user info – name, email, postcode etc. And two drop-down boxes in which I was to state my industry and occupation. The default suggested for industry was ‘Accounting’, and for occupation was ‘Board of Directors’. I didn’t even satisfy the default age range (18-24).
Sigh. At least the John Mayer gig was brilliant, and worth the travelling and hassle. My ears were ringing for some time after getting home, not so much from the music as the audience. I had commented on how many teenage girls were present to my gig companion, affectionately known as The Maestro. He pointed out that girls which looked like teenagers to me were probably 25. I thanked him for his observation. The 25-yr-old girls made a heck of a racket when JM’s band arrived on stage, but managed to ratchet it up even further when the man himself appeared. And they kept it up for most of the gig. In fairness, he played a great set, despite him not playing my favourite songs (why do artists do that… is it just me?), memorably throwing a bit of the Jackson 5 into the mix at one point. The Maestro was playing in his own gig the following night, and I went along to watch him. Was greatly pleased to see that I wasn’t the sole target of his youthful insolence, as he publicly heckled the singer/guitarist he was playing for.
I say ‘youthful’, but actually he’s getting on a bit himself. As is Maggie, 3 years old today, and terribly excited about it. I deferred my present until later in the year, as she has quite a few to be getting on with, and anyway, junior cricket sets cannot be practically demonstrated in January. Those delights will have to wait.
Now back in Edinburgh for the foreseeable, I find myself experiencing a slight return to the post-holiday blues which hit me hard on Sunday night. A reappearance on the slopes before the ski and cricket seasons crossfade, while financially daunting, seems like a great idea right now…