Sunday, June 27
Shouldn't Have Left It So LongI need to remember that when I don't post for a few days, it takes me forever to catch up with everything that's been going on. Thankfully, the last few days have been fairly uneventful, even if they have kept me too busy to post.
So, without further ado:
I'm trying desperately to think of anything of note that happened on Wednesday, and absolutely nothing is coming to mind. I think I watched the football in the evening, although I'll be damned if I can remember what the game was (Czech Republic v Germany, perhaps?).
I guess nothing interesting could have happened, to be honest!
Now Thursday I can remember!
I got a phone call from my Mum on her mobile at lunchtime, telling me that she and my sister hadn't managed to get their flight to America that day, and were staying in a hotel at Heathrow that night before trying again on Friday. Basically, would I like to come down and see them?
I was of course up for it, becuase I hadn't seen either of them for a good couple of months, but Heathrow is a hell of a long tube ride from my house in North London. Nevertheless, I decided to go see them, and packed a backpack with my CD player, a couple of CDs (my iPod can't get here soon enough!), a book and a magazine.
Dear God did that tube ride take absolutely forever?! I actually forgot to put my CD player on, so engrossed was I in the latest issue of DVD Review. I managed to read nearly every single word in that magazine during the journey, which is a lot of text and should show just how long the journey was...
The only bad thing was that only one DVD caught my eye from all of the month's releases: a special edition of Ichi The Killer, which includes the manga film that the recent live-action version was based on. Ultra-violent Japanese cinema? Yes please.
The journey actually got even longer when I got to the airport, since my Mum's hotel just outside of its boundaries, meaning a taxi was required to get over to it. I got so very lost trying to find the taxi rank.
You'd think, or at least I thought, that the taxi rank would be at the bus station right in the middle of the airport. Wrong. I then wandered through Terminal 1 and evetually found the queue for taxis just outside a random exit. Another 10 minutes was spent queueing, only to be advised when I got to the front that I'd be better off going to another bus stop to get a 'Hotel Hoppa' (note the trendy, friendly spelling), since it would be much cheaper than a taxi.
Fair enough, cheap is good, especially when I'm paying. I found that bus stop pretty easily, and followed the signs which told me I could buy a ticket out by the stop itself, rather than in the waiting lounge area. There was indeed a ticket machine there, and it was £3 for a ticket.
I, of course, only had £2 and some coppers on me, and the credit card bit of the machine was out of order. No worries, I thought, since I'd seen some other people get on different Hotel Hoppas and paying the driver directly. Easy!
Cue my bus turning up, and the driver refusing to take my £10 note, since he had no change. Very, very annoying. He told me to go back to the desk in the waiting lounge and buy a ticket there. More queueing followed, and I eventually clutched my ticket as I walked back out to the actual bus stop.
The bus had obviously gone by this point, and it took at least 4 songs before the next one turned up. I'd remembered my CD player by this point, and I find it easier to count songs than keep track of time. I managed to get on this bus, but had to stand, as it was full up. Not that I mind standing, I've got used to busy buses and tubes in the last couple of years.
Two guys who were also standing got off at the first hotel, and the gap they left behind showed that there were in fact loads of empty seats towards the rear of the bus. They had evidently decided to just stand towards the front, and their sheer bulk prevented me from seeing past and spotting the empty seats. I hate people who do that to me. What was wrong with them sitting down, or at least telling me that there were empty seats behind them, if I wanted to sit down?!
Sorry, but small things like that can annoy me somewhat.
I eventually made it to the hotel, a mere 2 hours and 20 minutes after I left my house. Not bad...
My Mum and sister were there waiting for me, and I had a beer in my hand within minutes of arriving. Not a bad result. We chatted for a while about this and that, mostly about the flight that they'd missed, and their chances for tomorrow.
I should pause here to explain why they had in fact missed their flight, because it isn't an especially common occurrence. My Dad works for an airline, which means he can get ultra-cheap tickets for most flights. Unfortunately, these tickets are what they call "standby tickets", since you are not guaranteed a seat on a given flight on a given day.
Instead, the tickets are valid for that route for a given period (3 months, I believe), and they day you choose to attempt to travel is up to you. You go to the airport that day, as per usual, and go to the check-in desk. They weigh your suitcases, as normal, attach the tags, but don't take them from you straight away. Instead, you have to wait around until an hour before take-off, and then go to an office where the remaining seats are allocated to anyone who has standby tickets.
This is because there is always the distinct possibility of someone turning up just before take-off with money for a full-price ticket and needing to get on the plane. It makes more sense (for the airline) to take that passenger than one with a heavily discounted standby ticket.
On Thursday, my Mum and sister were the unlucky ones who didn't get on the plane, and were thus a little upset and disappointed by the time I got to them that afternoon. They were also being very pessimistic about their chances of getting on the flight on Friday. Wrongly pessimistic, it turned out, because they did indeed get on that flight without any problems.
As I said, we chatted about this and that for a while, before going into the hotel's restaurant for dinner. I couldn't help but keep thinking of the second series of I'm Alan Partridge, the one where he lives in a Travelodge. This hotel was just so much like that, only without the Geordie barman.
The food was surprisingly good, if a little limited in choice. Basically, you could have a buffet or a choice of 3 steaks. I'm a man (grr, neanderthal), so of course it was a steak (oh, and I wasn't paying...), but the buffet looked pretty terrible, to be perfectly frank. I'll give them their dues though, the steak was cooked very well, and had some tasty chips with it. Now if only the waitresses could understand what you were saying to them...
It was now time for the England game, and I had to resign myself to watching it in the hotel, since there was no chance I was going to be able to make it home in time to watch it. The hotel had a big screen in the bar area, but I wasn't overly in the mood for watching it with a load of Geordie, beer-swilling builders, so we went upstairs to my Mum's room to watch it there.
I'm going to gloss over most of it, but suffice it to say I came very close to hitting my head on the ceiling when I leapt up after Lampard's equaliser in the 116th minute. For the penalty shoot-out (dammit, even writing those words makes me shudder at the memory), we went downstairs to the bar area to watch it, purely for the atmosphere.
You've never heard so much loud swearing in one place in your life! The elderly, middle class couple who arrived halfway through looked very scared as they walked through the throng. Of course, being England, we lost, and I was heartbroken. There was this absolute dumbstruck silence when Portugal's keeper scored the winning penalty, with everyone seemingly exhausted and exasperated. How could we lose AGAIN?!
By this time I had to leave to go home, since it was gone 10.30, and I couldn't chance missing the last tube. It's a very, very long walk into Central London from Heathrow...
I couldn't be arsed waiting for the Hoppa bus to arrive, if it ever would, so I hailed a taxi back across to Terminal 1 and the tube station. The cab driver didn't say a word, which is fucking weird for a black cab driver. Usually they don't shut up.
Even though this was the first stop for the Tube, and the fact that it was nearly 11 at night, it was fucking well full up. I managed to get a seat, but my carriage was full of Korean teenagers and a few American elderly couples. I just switched on my CD player to some loud metal music and completely switched off from the world. I do that very, very easily, almost to the point of looking completely blank and retarded to any onlooker.
When I got home, all of my housemates were in the same dumbstruck and gutted look as I was, still reeling in shock at the football. I was too tired to do anything, and went straight to bed. It's amazing how sitting down on your ass for hours, doing nothing except listening to music and reading can knacker you out so.
Oh, and one final thing: since I was going to bed at 1am, I had the novel experience of my room being dark as I lay there, falling asleep. For the past week or so, I haven't made it to bed before 3.30 in the morning, by which time the sky has a blue tint, and my room has enough light to see things quite clearly. I need to sort my sleeping habits out!
Do you know anything about what happened to tagboard.com.? My daughter has a site hosted by tagboard (which is out of business, I guess)and now her guestbook is blocked by a c-panel security log in that doesn't ever permit entering the guest book. You seem to have yours working. Did you have a problem like this? Do you know anything about what happened to tagboard.com--who took over their sites so we could contact them? Thanks for any help you might be able to offer.