5 October 2010

Traveller's Travails (Part I)

I’m not a great traveller. I don’t like leaving my little paradise down in France and going off somewhere which generally has worse weather, but there are times when you just have to pack a bag and go, and I hate it.

This week just past of course, I had a quintuple (??) whammy – seeing my mate Steve (and Debbie of course), then my sons and my brother, my aunt and cousin, then my ex-Chrysler mates and finally my daughter-in-law and my gorgeous grand-daughters. It was a whistle stop tour, but despite the fact that when I worked for BT, I sometimes felt I travelled for a living and put up with it, I now can’t get used to the hassle involved and just for good measure, several things happened at home which made the whole trip seem a lot worse.

First there was J telling me Angie’s washing machine next door had gone kaput and not to worry, she’d ordered a new one and could I transfer the money!  Then, as I knew she would, fed up with my ten year plan for clearing the ‘jungle’, she’d only gone and hired a team of gardeners to clear it for me – at a price which would have bought a Caribbean holiday for a family of fifteen!

Not content with that, J was holding a car boot sale to raise money for her charity in Keyna and I know, I just know that all my favourite clothes will have been sold to some French family for a couple of euros and who I will see poncing around the village in my best sweatshirts and jeans some time in the future! The last time she held a car boot (a vide grenier – an empty loft (I think) in French) all my BT awards were flogged off – a trophy I’d been presented with for winning the BT Yacht race was flogged for 1 euro – it was made of stainless steel – a scrap dealer would have paid a couple of hundred for it! My Supertramp Greatest Hits CD went for 50 cents and I noticed that some of my X-box games were missing.

Anyway, I’m getting off the track here – back to travelling.

My trip back from Glasgow to Nice was not best planned I have to say. I knew I had a 7 hour wait at London Gatwick and I can only assume that it was down to cost and the fact that it was a Monday. Whatever, I knew as my brother dropped me at Glasgow airport at 7.30am that I was in for a long day and I was not happy.

Checking in was easy – all of a couple of minutes and I have to say at this point that I have not lost my knack of getting my case bang on the weight limit – 19.7 kilos this time – although if I’d managed to get J’s order of two hundred Weight-watcher lemon cup-cakes, I’d probably have been over the 20kg limit!

I hunted around for a quiet seat but not finding one I ventured air-side only to be met with a security queue which stretched as far as the eye could see. I couldn’t beleeeeeve it (Victor Meldrew) – and when I got through the first set of double doors, I realized that the queue I’d seen was only one leg of a snake which filled the huge hall.

A sign boldly declared that security was ‘only ten minutes from this point’ which was a joke and then I worked it out – they’d stationed a lady to check your boarding passes at the end of the first ‘snake-leg’ and this was their interpretation of ‘reaching security’. Joke.

A full twenty-five minutes later I reached the security scanner. ‘You know – even at its worst, Gatwick was never as bad as this and they were fined £10 million to sort them out’, I ventured.

‘Please take your belt, jacket and shoes off – oh and your watch’, he countered, completely ignoring what I’d just said. ‘You haven’t got a pacemaker, or any large piercings that I need to know about’, he added. Grrrrr!

To cut a very long story short, I reached Gatwick with no further fuss and thought that as I now had a 7 hour wait ahead of me, the 10 mile walk to luggage collection would be a nice way to waste some time but alas they had a bus waiting to take us to the baggage hall. Sods law!

I hatched a plan. I thought out my strategy carefully. There was an Easyjet flight to Nice at 1.55pm and I would try and get on it – without paying any fees.

‘Hello – have you got any free seats on the 1.55 to Nice?’
‘Yes sir, we have ten seats remaining.’
‘Great – I’m on the 18.15 and I reckon you’re not going to sell any more seats on the 1.55 so why don’t you change my flight for free and you’ll be able to sell my seat on the 18.15. Great plan eh?’

What actually happened was …..

‘Hello – have you got any free seats on the 1.55 to Nice?’
‘No sir but we’ve got loads on the 18.15 – would you like one?’

I headed upstairs to the ‘Village’ where I thought I’d get a sandwich only to find the whole place closed with the exception of a Boots Chemists and a Costa Coffee. I looked for a quiet seat and an electricity socket for my PC but I reckoned the only one I could find – in the multi-faith chapel - would not be appropriate so I wandered off-limits to the admin office area. Result - an upholstered seat with a socket right beside it. I decamped. I got my PC out and plugged it in – nothing. The socket was dead!

Then saw a sign. It said,’ we’re spending £1,000,000,000 on this terminal (note all the zeros they used to impress) to make you happy.’ How can shutting my favourite Burger King make me happy?

Anglo Saxon followed and by the way J, that's not me in the photo!

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