Abortive journey

Alarm at 5am. I cancel it. Alarm at 5:16am. I fumble a snooze. Again at 5:26. At 5:36 I blearily set a new alarm for 5:41 as if the five minutes will make all the difference. Then I realise I’m awake so I get up before I change my mind.

There’s a sock on the handle of my bedroom door. I put my hand on it as I stumble to the loo, and leave it there. It’s to remind me that my passport is in my car. If there’s something I absolutely have to remember in the morning, whatever it might be, I put a sock on the handle of my bedroom door.

I’m packed already. I put on a three piece suit and grab my charger. I get my card, my flat keys and my car key, and I leave. I’m still half asleep but the sock reminds me to grab my car key and get the passport before the Uber arrives to take me to Victoria. I’m a bit behind, so I shell out for Gatwick Express. Twenty quid for no distance. It is delayed by about twenty minutes owing to late running engineering on the track. I try to check in online, but Eastern Airlines won’t let you do it within 3 hours of the flight. I’m only flying to Newquay.

Gatwick happens before coffee and I’m not wearing my lenses. There’s a dream of a queue for check-in. The masked woman in front of me is angry enough at the slow queue for the pair of us. I just let the time tick by. I get to the front an hour before my flight and on an impulse I check in my hand luggage. The wheel is broken on my little case. They’ve paid for a checked bag. Saves me carrying it.

I would normally be going to Chile today, but I booked all this filming.

The bag goes in and I find coffee just before security. I end up having to sit on the water drop desk to finish my latte, as the crowds surge past. With no hand luggage I fly through security and before long I’m in hell, waiting for the gate. Noisy angry humans everywhere. Some are so angry I find myself laughing in their faces as they glower at me for existing. There’s no point getting breakfast or coffee right now. Queues are very very long. I find myself hoping it’ll be better at the gate. The busy old ladies clearly hoped the same thing and they are outraged at having had their water confiscated and there being nowhere to get more water at the gate. I sit there.

We board the flight to Newquay. We take off.

The captain almost immediately announces that there’s something wrong with a windscreen wiper. It’s not safe, he says, to fly the extra couple of minutes to Newquay, so he dumps the load of us in Southampton.

“Welcome to Southampton, we appreciate this is not Newquay but safety is a priority. As our arrival in Southampton is not expected it may take a bit longer than usual for ground staff to reach this plane.”

I message the production coordinator.

It is very possible that they had already rescheduled the shoot for the Queen’s funeral and just not gotten around to telling me. I’m not gonna be needed tomorrow. This whole trip was pointless. Nobody bothered cancelling me until I made them think about me by having my flight diverted. “I’ll book you back to London on the next train,” she tells me, but we are all being forced to wait at Southampton airport and I checked my bag.

Thankfully, my bag is delivered through the carousel. They start by talking about driving us by coach to Newquay. Then they decide that the plane is actually safe and I manage to extricate myself from the whole fucking thing and go back to London by train. The coordinator books me a train ticket and rather than sending me an e-ticket, she sends me the code you are supposed to use to get a paper ticket out of the machine. I’m already on the train when I get it. It’s useless, but thankfully nobody inspects me. I get through the barrier at Clapham Junction purely through good fortune. And at half eleven I’m back where I started.

Had the flight continued to Newquay I still would have been there unnecessarily. So I guess it worked out ok. I’ve got a few more days to learn my lines…

“Mercury is retrograde,” says my agent. And whatever you believe in, it fucking is. What a pointless shunt of an early morning.

The plus side is, it allowed me to join the team and look at the route for this year’s Peculiar London Hampstead Ghost Walk. You’d be mad not to book tickets for yourself and everybody you’ve ever met. Book now, QUICK before everybody gets nuked by Putin.


Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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