BY Russell Wardrop

DATE: 14 MAR 2013


5.30pm: Leave New Street Square, London Town.

5.35pm: Snowstorm! Proper, horizontal, driving, in-yer-face big sticky flakes.

5.37pm: Small Scottish snowman gets into fast black.

5.55pm: Damp Scotsman jog-walks into Victoria (the station, not the dead queen).

5.58pm: A gaggle of stupified tourists are cast asunder at the auto-barrier attempting access with the wrong, cheap, slow-train tickets. Still slightly squelchy Scotsman alights, breathless, the 6pm Gatwick Express. (Or the Gatwick Express Are You Having A Giraffe? And HOW MUCH DID YOU SAY IT WAS FOR A TICKET? HOW MUCH? REALLY? FOR A SINGLE? WILL SOMEONE ADMINISTER REFLEXOLOGY AND FEED ME GRAPES WHILE I LIE ON A CHAISE FOR THAT?)

6.00pm: Twenty quid, seriously. Twenty... 20... 20!!! Sundry similarly scammed punters with multi-coloured valises of all shapes and sizes are streaming on to a full carriage of the last train to Sharkesville. Standing room only, naturally. But it's only half an hour, yes?... It's an Express, yes?... It will go fast-clickety-click-fast-clickety-clack along the track, yes? (I will forget the foot massage and fruit just to get there...)

6.38pm: Sparky, my temperamental iPhone 555, dies again. Quelle surprise. The beautiful lozenge is more a quirky designer accessory than anything resembling functional mobile telephony. (Am considering getting a battery pack in a rucsack or a solar panel on my forehead.)

6.39pm: My boarding pass is on my dead useless phone… Super.

6.45pm: Still aboard the Glacial Gatwick Express: And in the words of Elton John, Goodbye England’s Rose. (Just kidding... I’m Still Standing.)

6.55pm: Walk-jog... driverless monorail... walk-jog... escalator... walk-jog... flourish enormous boarding pass on my iPad since I know my phone has the battery life of the FM radio I got Christmas 1981 so downloaded a duplicate last night. (Clever, eh?)

6.56pm: Stubbly security skinny in polyester slacks says they do not accept big boarding passes on iPads. No reason given. (Too huge? Too flash? Too convenient? Too Scottish? Can’t be arsed?)

6.57pm: Say that I am boarding at 7.15pm, but given the “I don’t give a monkey’s funky” look he believes is assertive but will one day have him in casualty at 11.23pm on a Friday night with his iced left ear in a Jack Daniels tumbler snuggled in his chubby tattooed girlfriend's replica Gucci handbag. (I need to get a proper-paper-boarding-card from the BA desk, he says pointing vaguely up and right.)

7.00pm: Walk-jog the 168m to the BA desk and asked for my proper-paper-boarding-card-doo-dah (doo-dah).

7.02pm: Present new rectangular proper-paper-doo-dah (doo-dah) to self-same security-scally (Who notices it is for the wrong date and has the wrong name emblazoned across the top. I am now Phillipa Marshall and it's tomorrow: not terrific, though Elton would approve.)

7.04pm: Groundhog Day. I know well the 168m walk-jog-trot-jog to the BA desk and ask for a current, personal-proper-paper-doo-dah (doo-dah). Jersey had discombobulated a lot of people today,  sucking the brains out of Londoners who work for BA.

7.06pm: Present now correct proper-paper-doo-dah (doo-dah) to plump, beardy at the desk. Chap who gives out clear plastic bags looks at me funny as I pass him for the fifth time. Skinny scally has gone but his sidekick smiles at my discomfort, he too knows me well by now, but does so with some humanity so he keeps his ears. (Security, once quiet, is busier now.)

7.14pm: Burst through to departures ready to jog-walk to the gate, always a 55 variant, which closes at 7.15pm.

7.14pm: Flight delayed until 9pm. Jog-walk cancelled. Swearing to self commences. People stare. I stare back, imagining them troublemaking brain-sookers from Jersey.

7.20pm: Get to spoffy silver surfers lounge. Nice, very nice. There is a new Pope from Argentina, says BBC News 24 in big-screen silence. I involuntarily think of Tony Blair, Bono, Maradona and Madonna (in that order). Maradona will definitley be pardoned for that hand-ball, if it was a hand-ball. He may have headed it.

7.20pm to 7.45pm Impossible to get Like A Virgin out of my head as I tour the food cabinets, grazing. Big slices of cake were there, then gone. People from Jersey almost certainly responsible.

8.00pm: Departure brought forward to 8.45pm... Mmmmmmmm.

8.20pm: Go to gate. Early! Put Arsenal game off on iPad and leave spoffy lounge to go to cattle pen in dungeon.

8.45pm: Still in cattle pen, various excuses raining down. Apparently they have had to to cater the big bird from the back because the front is blocked. Who blocks the front end of an aeroplane at an airport? (But being catered to from the back can indeed be a challenge. It would have been nice if they had announced it in the manner of Lord Melchett from Blackadder. Or Frankie Howerd.)

8.50pm: Edinburgh flight boarded first for no good reason I can think of as we Weegies were there first. I am surprised no-one loses an ear.

9.00pm: Boarding. Strangely at the time they first thought of, way back when. (But hey, we’ll be in Glasgow just after 10pm... won't we?).

9.15pm: Hold on there bald eagle. Still on the ground, hearing mellifluous pilot stories of bad things across the channel, Jersey isolated and logistical difficulties in north Africa. (I may just be dreaming about The Secrets of World War Two In Colour).

9.20pm: Still staionary on terra firma. Demonstrator life-jacket is deflated (who isn't?) and left on the floor and cabin crew have shot the crow to better pastures fore and aft to read Hello and talk overtime. We are all alone now (I should be on the couch, in my pants, watching the second half in Munich, eating Pringles and Jaffa Cakes).

9.30pm: Something stirs. Cabin crew appear. Briefing is delivered. We move back then forward.

9.30pm: We stop.

9.35pm: Wind is now in the wrong direction and therefore we are at the wrong end of the runway and the pilot can't get it up (This is a new one on me, but I do know excessive wind can be a problem, especially from an unexpected source. Again delivery in the style of Frankie Howerd, maybe in Carry On Up The Khyber, would have been appreciated but it's all a bit too Sid James meets Jeremy Clarkson).

9.40pm: We have lift off, two hours late.

10.40pm: We land. The pilot does so in a manner that implies he is as pissed off as me (cocyx crushed, chiroprator texted, shredded treads, new tyres on order, large scotch or two with cabin crew at the Holiday Inn lounge overlooking the motorway inside the half-hour).

10.55pm: Arrive Brookfield to see the Gunners glorious failure on the 11pm SKY news.


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Russell Wardrop is our Chief Executive. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop him an email and we will be in touch.

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