(Planet Me)
Monday, August 22, 2005
You wouldn’t believe the type of day I’ve had today. Hell. I’m not sure I can believe the day I’ve had today, and it happened to me.

What happened? Nothing. Just not enough happened at all. Though I can tell what didn’t happen.

I didn’t get my flight.

I was due on the 10.45 from Heathrow to Edinburgh. Right now, I should be at least 22,000 feet higher in the air than I actually am. I should be just passing over Swindon, like a Cowboy, riding the steel wings. But I’m not.

For the first time ever, I missed a flight. And I know what type of person I am. I am now the type of guy that they call out over tannoys. “Mr Reed, this is the last and final call for the 10.45 to Edinburgh. GET A BLOODY MOVE ON!”

Even last week I would’ve thought it impossible to miss a plane. But I did. After our adventures, and yes, after the 12 flights I’ve caught in the past month I’d’ve thought you’d have to be a Grade A Imbecile to miss a flight. But you don’t. You just need bad luck, and lots of it.

How did it start? Like any other day. I woke up, after some 5 hours and 43 minutes of sleep. Getting back from Dublin at Shit O’Clock a day or two earlier didn’t help at all. By bedtime Sunday I felt that I’d finally started to make a dent in the administrivia that was clouding my world. That is, bar the washing up, the ironing, the cleaning, and the unpacking, which we have yet to fully tackle. I read my emails, put some clothes in to wash, and alphabeticised my new purchases. Oh, and Sunday night, walked into Kingston to see Doolittle, a band comprising of Ange Doolittle (the marvellous ex-vocalist of Eat, Big Yoga Muffin, WeKnowWhereYouLive, and The Useless), and his new conspirators, including Mr G.

£3 in, finished by 9.30, home with pizza by 10.00. Doolittle were excellent. Great songs, and a wonderful performer – who gleefully sang into mobile phones and rang up pop stars from the stage. Miles Hunt, who apparently Ange replaced when Ange became singer in The Wonder Stuff* – according to the erroneous Fighting Cocks website - was interrupted driving his tractor in a field in Shropshire by the man Doolittle, mid-song.

*this never happened, by the way.

So I rolled out of bed, packed my bag, and got the train to get the plane. Change at Wimbledon – carefully trying not to disturb the sleeping Wombles – and at Earls Court. Because we all know that tube trains don’t actually run on lines, but colours - somewhere on the Blue Line my train ground to a halt.

Waiting. And waiting.

Pretty much all I could work out was that there was a security alert and a suspect package somewhere on some train, somewhere. Eventually, after what felt like a lifetime, but was probably closer to half-an-hour (just), our train trundled amiably through the suburbs. No rush, mind you. It was just like being back in Oireland.

Last check in for the flight was 10.00. Finally, I arrived there at 10.10. I jumped queues, sweated a bit, checked in. With about a minute to go. No need to put my overnight bag in the hold, it’s a weeny bit of luggage. Like a silver rucksack.

Thankfully I do not look Islamic, or Muslamic, or Terroristic, or whatever our prejudices tell us terrorists look like, so I was granted the chance to smuggle an extra piece of cabin baggage on board. Now, with the gate boarding as I hadn’t even cleared passport and security control, I had to get to Gate 27. With 28 minutes to go before takeoff.

Ok. Off to Gate 27. I sweet-talked my way into the Executive Class, Posh Fast Track queues, I ran down travelators. Travelators are strange things : horizontal escalators for those of us who don’t want to walk.So we just stand there whilst a machine does the walking for us.

Because you’ve just got off a plane and don’t feel like walking anywhere after being sat on your fat butt for hours. So I ran down those. Gate 27…

The flight was gone.

My next task was to get out of the airport. Which is actually harder than it sounds. In order to get out and not actually depart a flight, I had to pass three sets of security checks. Three X-Rays. Three metal detectors. First I was directed to Flight Connections Centre.

Flight Connections is something only the truly travelled see. When you fly to London, just to go somewhere else. Henry Rollins does this a lot, when he’s flying to Nukehavistan or Dirkdirkastan. A long time ago there was talk of picketing Rollins spoken word shows because he does USO tours. His reasoning is somewhat more blasé : it’s a chance to go somewhere he’s never been, see something he’s never seen, and meet people he’d never otherwise meet. And he doesn’t even have to kill them.

Besides which, anyone who thinks he supports The President, really needs to open their ears. At least half of his spoken word, the last time I saw him, was geared around the shortcomings of President Don’t Talk So Good and his War On Stuff And Darkies.

Flight Connections is a place you only see if you’re connecting. It’s a third set of X-Ray and Metal Detectors, with horrendous queues like a human snake, and I threw bags down and coats off, and I got through, only to find myself In The Mall. In an sea of panic and connections, this Oasis Of Purchasing, offering everything you never wanted at odd prices. Tax free. CD’s became £11.91 or £10.20, DVD’s became “3 for £17.02!”. But how to get out?

Arrivals. I had to walk through Baggage Reclaim, Arrivals, Passport Control, and got my nuts sniffed by a drug sniffing dog. As the lesser-known song goes, “I wanna be a drug sniffing dog, so I can take drugs all day long!”. God bless Jello Biafra.

The dog let me go. After that it was a chance to sail through the “EU” channel of customs and the unmarked gates.

And I was back in England again.

And I still haven’t told you about Friday yet.

And I’d still missed the flight.

So I’m in the office now for the first time in about a month.

I did it last year. I've always been a bit cocky about getting to the airport on time but without any extra time to have to wait around the airport in.

It was bound to go wrong sooner or later.

Single lane road in France.

With traffic accident on it somewhere.

Missed it by two minutes - partly because EasyJet gives two lots of conflicting info about when the gate closes, mind.


I almost missed a flight in Las Vegas because the security line took an hour! (They just wait the terrorists out...said terrorists get frustrated and go back home to bed.)

But a nice manager told them to re-open the plane door!
28 minutes to get to your gate between checking in and departure? Frak me, thats one huge airport.
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