Low cost flying. Joyous isn't it?
Now call me a snoot bag but there's something about Luton airport at 4.30 on a Friday morning that makes me want to live in a palace and throw poo at the little people.
I'm alright now though it's taken me fully two weeks to recover and a certain amount of governmental 'talking down' from what felt like an international kidnapping attempt. My fault for not wanting to mortgage the house in order to park the car at Heathrow.
I have to say that my arrival at Luton (aka Borstal Airport) was notable for the fact it immediately gave a real old boost to the demographic profile of the place. I'm not blowing my own trumpet on this one - on struggling through the revolving doors there was a short blast on a kazoo and the local Mayor rushed over shouting 'Quick lads, we've got a posh one' and handed me a commemorative sash. It's not every day you walk through an airport with 'ABC1' written on your front but apparently I was the 25th person to visit since it opened who has worked anywhere other than MacDonalds so everyone was thrilled.
This lovely gesture was of course slightly spoilt when the Mayor realised someone had half inched his ceremonial chain of office but other than that it was rather nice. (It was later found in one of the toilets where someone had left it on account of it clearly wasn't fake so they weren't quite sure what do to with it).
Anyway, I checked in which went ok as everyone else had decided to go to sleep on the floor (nice) so I whipped on through and felt confident my luggage would soon be winging it's way to Hamburg. Naturally I was going to Dortmund but having travelled with this airline before, I didn't want to be too optimistic.
Sitting down for something out of a microwave (don't ask what - I'm not actually sure it was food) I noticed a cheerful hen party walk past. Lovely girls, all about seventeen and wearing vest tops they'd made a smashing effort to personalise. Each person had an encouraging phrase and their name printed on the back which was super. Who says our young people don't make an effort? I thought I'd seen the best one which had 'Ride me Ryan' written on it but I hadn't noticed her friend - the clear winner in terms of clarity of message - who was a personable girl apparently called 'Cum on me Connor'.
I swear to you I am not making this up.
At this stage I wasn't entirely sure I'd make it onto the plane without getting mugged but there we were. I finished my egg and cheese muffin which I'd insanely assumed would involve toasting at some stage (what was I thinking?) and pottered off to the departure area.
Did you know that the initials SB stand for Speedy Boarding? This means that for an extra six pounds, you get a 5 second head start on the rest of the passengers lined up for the hundred metres dash across the runway to the plane. NB: I don't think they actually stop other planes moving while you do it. Of course before you get to this point you have to stand for an hour next to the people in the queue called SA which probably sounds perfectly acceptable. What they don't tell you though is that SA stands for All The Loudest, Shoutiest Children In The World Ever. Who would have thought eh? I was particularly lucky as next to me was a little girl blessed with the ability to have hysterics in English AND German. How proud her parents clearly were as they did absolutely nothing to make the little darling stop screaming. Even though I did my grumpiest, scariest, cross face ever when her mum wasn't looking, I am not kidding when I tell you I was mocked by a three year old.
Quite a low moment actually.
Anyway, six pounds to be 'SB' is six pounds jolly well spent....if you're Linford Christie. If, like me, you're not that quick on your feet, you might as well save your money and use it for a bottle of Arnica at the other end. You'll need it for the bruising.
My goodness, people without numbered seating are fierce aren't they? No wonder we won the War. I swear to God I was overtaken by a woman dressed as Boudica trying to get to a window seat while carrying a suitcase containing a Sperm Whale. Hand luggage constraints? What hand luggage constraints?
Anyway, all was well that ended well. Another eight hours flew by as everyone swiftly got themselves on board and as I sobbed quietly at my terrible mistake, the aeroplane was ready to leave.
Things did not get any better and if the kindly nurses will let me play on the PC again I will tell of the journey itself. Until then my friends, if you are en route to the airport, my sympathies are with you.
I'm going to have my special medicine now.....