Sunday, 17 October 2010


There were long queues stretching out from the check-in desks, where the eventual prize was to stand in front of an appropriately frosty check-in woman.  (I won't name the airline involved, but it's commonly known by the first two letters of the alphabet in reverse order).  Isolde went first, and was admitted onto the flight in a matter of seconds. Then came me.

To say I was 'greeted' by the bitch woman would be a misuse of the English language too serious even for a comedy writer, so let's just say one of her eyebrows acknowledged me.  (Grudgingly).  

'Why do you zink you're on zees flight?' she asked me.

I explained what had happened, and that the Concierge had booked me a seat.

'You are not on zees leest, you cannot fly.'

I asked her to check again,  Perhaps the Concierge had mistakenly given his own name?  She was getting bored now.  Obviously due to her sophisticated intellect, which balanced out her warm charm.  

But nope, there was definitely no sign of me on any of the documentation.

'Well, when's the next flight?' I asked her.

'In a week', she replied, appearing to cheer up.

'What do I do until then?'

'Not my problem,' she said.

Ah, the World's Favourite Airline, whose previous slogan had been Fly the Flag (but not the little Jewish comedian, OK?)

We'll take more care of you - if your name's not NiceEtoile.

Isolde and I regrouped to discuss what was to be done.  We agreed that she should go through passport control, after which time she would have the remainder of the time before the flight took off to see what she could do.  I had no money, no prospect of staying in a hotel, not even any toes left.  I could be stranded for a week.  (Hey, great idea for a film!)  

So we hugged and off she went.

I am now about to relate something so far-fetched, you will not believe that it is possible for anyone to have lived through it.  Other than a fictional spy played by a woman with such unfeasibly enormous lips, they need a seat to themselves on the plane.  (I thought I did the jokes, Angelina).  

Half an hour later, Isolde was once again standing opposite me.  

With more stealth than a Kazakhstan national determined to take (obviously polite) intellectual issue with Sacha Baron Cohen's totally accidental depiction of his race, Isolde had somehow found her way back through passport control and security - crawling through air-conditioning units, abseiling down the side of buildings, bribing Russian spies with nothing more than the promise of a ticket to one of my gigs (OK, I'll come clean - it was promising them they wouldn't have to turn up under any circumstances) - and got back to me in the check-in hall.

She told me she'd called the hotel, where they'd got our Concierge out of bed (he was off-duty, this wasn't part of his job description for the woman in 459), he had spoken to BA (oops!  Nearly!) the unidentified airline involved, and once again pulled out the big one.  (This is a column of two halves, dear Reader).   

I was on the flight home.

But what flight home?

The plane due to take us back to the welcoming arms of Heathrow (artistic licence, give me a SWEARWORD break) had not yet left London because they kept having to de-ice the wings.  (Not the greatest comfort to someone who hates flying.  Except when she's desperate to fly, that is).

But eventually, some hours later (ZZZZzzzzzzzz), the aircraft arrived in Paris and we trooped on board. 

Naturally, Isolde and I were not sitting next to each other, but it was only a short flight, what did it matter?  (For an accurate measurement of matterment, please ask the gentleman I was sitting next to, whose arm I kept grabbing in alarm every time the pilot blinked and thus displaced one zillionth of the air around his eyeball in the cockpit which nobody on board could detect apart from myself. Aaaaarrrggghhhhhh!!!!!)  

Anyway, we finally reached London.  Yay.

So then it was only a matter of passport and security, collecting our luggage and taking the short ride on the bus back to the centre of town and our warm beds, right?


There was no bus at the bus stop.  We waited.  There was still no bus at the bus stop.  After yet another hour (but what's one tiny hour in the day from eternity?) one appeared.

The first people got on.  The queue didn't move forward.  We stood there.  Gradually, however, we inched our way forward, until finally, finally, we stepped onto the vehicle and faced the driver.  

'Two tickets to central London, please.'   We held out a five pound note, newly acquired from a cash machine.

'WHAT'S THAT?!' barked the driver.  (Any relatives working for any airline in Paris, perchance???)  'NO USE GIVING ME A BLEEDIN' NOTE, THEY AIN'T GIVEN ME NO BLEEDIN' CHANGE!'

It was now four o'clock in the morning.  We were beyond frozen.  Quite possibly we'd died in the night and our brains were only functioning thanks to the natural cryogenic effects of the terrible winter.  All we wanted was to be driven back to London on a bus from one of the biggest, most important international airports on the planet, where many hundreds of international travellers from all over the SWEARWORD world had just arrived, having somehow - oh, how forgetful were they! - omitted to fill their pockets before they left Melbourne, Moscow, Frog Suck, Wyoming, with small change in Sterling for the SWEARWORD airport bus!

Welcome to London.  Excellent choice for the 2012 Olympics.

I think it was sometime two years later when the bus eventually departed. Of course, the heating on it had packed up.  Of course, the journey took six times longer than it was meant to.  Of course, we thought never mind, this will be a funny story to relate in a blog one day.

And so, strikes?  Can't get enough of 'em.  Next Tuesday's 'manifestation' is putting into doubt my ability to be able to turn up to the first class of my new job teaching presentation- giving.  First rule of presentation-giving?  Present yourself in front of the SWEARWORD audience.

Long live President Sarkozy.  He deserves to have to look at Scary Carla for as many long years as possible; serves him SWEARWORD right for what he's doing to the country.  And why should we be the only ones to suffer?


Dogs: 1 (Give up the plastic surgery, Carla)

Bitches: 1 (guest appearance on behalf of the World's Greatest Airline)

Cool Cats: 1 (courtesy of Wagner)

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Please be nice, but not funnier than me. Thanks.