I said ‘so far’ didn’t I? Talk about tempting fate. It’s just us poor souls on the Birmingham flight from Aberdeen left near the departure gates. Airport cleaners with trolleys and tabbards wander about tidying up the debris of the last few hours – half full (or is it half empty?) glasses of lager, empty crisps packets and bottles of over-priced spring water. The airport lounge, open to anyone willing to pay £25 entrance fee, is closed. I know, I’ve been up there and been politely turned away. I have three hours to burn before my flight is scheduled to take off. We should’ve left ten minutes ago at 20:45, we’re scheduled to leave at 23:45.
In an attempt to fight the boredom and take my mind off the fact that the business taxi service I called to let know I’d been delayed three hours didn’t sound too sure about their ability to meet me at Birmingham and take me home. Where I live. Where Siggy and my bed await me.
I had a crap night’s sleep last night which doesn’t help matters. Really crap. A single-glazed hotel room overlooking a cobbled street which cars and lorries were using as a shortcut to get around the traffic light system with a busy pub diagonally opposite was not a recipe for a good night’s sleep.
It started badly when I saw a roller blind on the window rather than curtains and sure enough they leaked a u-shape of light from the bright street lights not far below my second-storey window. The long mirror on the wall reflected a third vertical strip of light like a Force-ghost lightsabre and I turned to lie facing the wall. I was trapped under the too-hot too-heavy duvet and listened to the sounds of drunk men stumbling along the hotel corridor, banging the corridor’s fire door open and then pissing around with their room doors for what seemed like hours after the pub chucked out. People on the street outside seemed to be following a parallel trajectory and were making even more noise. Someone even managed to find a can to kick along which clashed delightfully with the constant keening of the seagulls.
In the morning, I awoke bleary eyed to the sound of my phone alarm. I’ve set it to the most jingly jangly annoying banjo sounding tune I could find, and boy was it annoying this morning. The evening before, I made a tactical decision to (a) not drink too much alcohol and (b) not go for a magnificent curry – despite being told categorically that I should. I didn’t want to be hungover or risk a tummy upset ahead of the workshop I had today with some technical bods in my company’s Aberdeen office. Yes, I was here on business.
I’ve not been here since I decided to jack in my old IT job four years ago, and frankly I’ve not really missed the place. Although I’m contractually obliged to say that the people in the office are a great bunch. No really, I’d say that even without the contract. Honest.
The tactical decision around dinner back-fired on me as I found that the Mexican meal I had opted for, in what I thought was a ‘safe’ chain restaurant among the many surrounding the Cineworld cinema, fell out of my arse and into the hotel toilet like two tins of stinking oxtail soup. Good job I packed the Imodium.
The workshop went well and I was bought lunch and a great peanut butter chocolate shortbread cake to insert into my chemically induced frozen digestive system. The cake tasted great despite my inability to digest it. The workshop went well. But I really should’ve taken the world falling out of my arse as a bad omen of complications to come.
So here I am killing time in the airport wondering if my flight is going to end up being cancelled like it was recently at Oslo airport or if I’m going to be stuck in Birmingham for the night. Perhaps I could just get a normal taxi to take me home. It would probably work out cheaper (for work) than me getting a hotel room for the night. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
I’m considering writing about the film – Tomb Raider – that I went to see last night after eating my tasty but ultimately tainted Mexican meal – in this post, but I quickly realise this would make a good separate post – not least because I have a cinema ticket I can take a photo of and because it seems odd to moan about a film in a post dedicated to moaning about being stuck in an airport again.
However, before I sign off (for now – this real-time account will be appended later as I’m sure you’re on the edge of your seat wondering if I get home alright) I’ll say one thing for the airline FlyBe that they got right tonight (unlike fucking BA recently) and that is that they were very quick to give us vouchers for refreshments.
I used mine on a bottle of overpriced spring water, a Diet Coke (to try and keep me awake), an apricot yoghurt bar and a Snickers which I’m holding in reserve for when I’m really not feeling myself. Tonight could turn into a marathon tonight after all. The girl in Boots urged me to buy more stuff up to the full amount of the voucher but I have my lunch, the cake, and a chicken burger and chips I ate in the airport restaurant sitting on top of my bunged up guts. Hopefully I’m not going to regret not spending the extra free three pound or so I had at my disposal.
While I was wandering the limited expanse of the departures area of the airport, I also bought two books to keep me company – Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology and Matt Haig’s How to Stop Time – having very quickly finished reading the very funny Joe Lycett’s Parsnips, Buttered.
I think last time I was here I was reading a Terry Pratchett short story collection, so it seemed fitting to buy the Gaiman book (he collaborated with Pratchett on Good Omens and rumour has it he is adapting it for television). The Matt Haig book is something I’ve been umming and ahhing about buying for a while as I enjoyed reading Humans and of course I’m interested in anything to do with stopping time after writing Lucky LINK. It’s ironic that all I want to do at present is speed up time. Anyway, that Tomb Raider review won’t write itself, so ciao for now.
And I’m back. It’s the next day. I feel a little zombiefied and will probably head back to bed for a few hours before Siggy gets home. We arrived in Birmingham at around 1am and the taxi chap I was worried about turned up a few minutes later and took me home.
While I was waiting I took a photo of the deserted check-in desks and a couple of armed police appeared soon after and swaggered past where I was waiting.
I crawled into bed at around quarter past two and guess I fell asleep at around half-past after staring into darkness and thinking ‘God, it’s quiet’ for a while and wondering if I’d had too much caffeine.
It could’ve been a lot worse. On reflection it was a fairly routine delay. The story is that one of the aircraft’s cockpit screens failed on flight out from Amsterdam and they flew to Birmingham and got it replaced before picking us up at Aberdeen.