Blame Haneda I hate you Butler
Haneda airport is new to me. I've been to Tokyo once before, ten years ago, and not this airport. It's 5.23am when I first see a clock on the ground, which really isn't long after we landed. There's no Three "Feel At Home" deal here so I have to get onto free airport wireless, and while chatting to Helen and checking my email I almost walk past the connections route and head to arrivals. Oops.
At connections there is one person in front of me, and they're not actually going through connections. Instead they're trying to engage the staff, who fairly obviously only know enough words to help people through security, in conversation about whether it's feasible to head into Tokyo city for their 5 hour connection. The velcro on my bag is passively aggressive enough that he steps out of my way, and I am greeted with smiles.
I'm so primed for how to do security that I'm through in no time. The escalator afterwards takes me up to gate 112, which is next to the escalators further up to the lounges to which I have access. It's less than 15 minutes between airbridge and lounge. I quite like this.
The lounge is pretty spectacular. There are two beer taps, half decent views of the apron, and the food is not only very Japanese (OK, so there are Western options too) but you could even add them to myfitnesspal.com because they include calorie counts. Blimey. There's only about 4 other people in the lounge. I guess 5.40am isn't a hugely popular time to fly.
My breakfast is some Japanese omelette, spicy cod roe, and mackerel, plus some spiced cabbage. Also full fat Coke, since there's no diet.
At 0602 I am escorted from the lounge. The lady who had welcomed me to the lounge originally came to find me, in the far corner, and greeted me again by name. She picks up my boarding pass and passport and says "Mr Foreman, the first class lounge is now open, please come with me". Fucking hell!
Past the main reception I get a greeting from another member of staff, apropos of nothing. En route I ask if the showers are now open and she says yes, and escorts me there. The shower is excellent and if I wasn't already feeling great, by now I totally am. Maybe it's time to get on the sauce?
That said, I don't know if sauce is appropriate, culturally or given the time. I mean, it's 0630 which sounds a bit early, but on the other hand I've been awake for 3 or 4 hours by now - so, like, being in the pub by 1pm when you get up at 10am on a weekend, which is fine, right? - and on yet another hand it's 2230 back home which is clearly booze o'clock. What to do?
Actually, what to do is explore the lounge. Because, fucking hello, this place is fantastic. There are only 2 other punters around so I don't feel awkward taking photos. A lot of the food is the same as in the business lounge I've been kicked out of, but the space is much nicer and just generally everything seems a bit less food hall, a bit more "relax before you fly, you fatcat motherfuckers".
What's that at the end? It says "Red Suite" and looks fairly cool, maybe. I explore and, oh, hello! It's full of aviation porn and luggage porn and chess porn and flight ap porn and table football and champagne and sake and everything's fucking fantastic. There's a shoeshine service but it doesn't start until 7am and besides, I don't have any shoes which can be shined. But I do have a phone with which to take a bunch of photos.
I feel a bit self conscious about taking photos, and even that it might be too early to get in on the champagne, and what's more, a tiny bit self-conscious because of how scruffy I am. But then a couple of people who I perceive to be local turn up, and they are scruffy, in shorts, taking photos of everything, and get on the champagne. So, fuck it, all bets are off. Laurent Perrier ahoy!
This lounge is awesome. I totally love it. The wifi is weird - I've been booted off numerous times, and reconnection isn't automatic at all. It's quite annoying because I'd like to blog. While I chat to Helen on messenger before she goes to bed, I manage to transfer photos and get online properly so the next half hour is spent typing constantly. Accompanied by champagne. God I love all this flying malarkey.
I was told by reception that boarding was 0810. At 0740 or so I think, maybe I'll go ask the chef guy for the cooked-to-order fried egg pancake thing. It's fucking fantastic.
We take off. Obviously. I'm a long way from the window and once again my atttempt at good time lapse photography fails dismally. Whatever. In the air more champagne arrives, and then more. Apparently the staff can read minds. On the ground I've added 4 things to my "favourites" so inflight entertainment is sorted.
First up, a documentary about the diver Greg Louganis. It's fantastic. I don't really give a shit about diving as a sport, but I'm a sucker for documentaries about people who are the very best in the world at what they do whatever the sport. Throughout, I drink champagne and, oh, here's breakfast.
Bircher muesli followed by a Japanese main - mackerel and all kinds of other stuff. I dunno, it's on the menu. It's fantastically gorgeous though, and I'm very glad I actually held back a bit in the lounge.
After breakfast I change into my newest sleeper suit, but tell the cabin crew member when I get back that I actually don't want my seat turned into a bed - I'm going to power through rather than sleep. And so, while watching the move Spotlight, I doze off. God damn it! This also apparently gives the crew licence to take away my champagne glass. Boo!
Throughout the flight so far I kept wondering, how long is left? Unlike other airlines, there's no dual display - as in, no display on the handset - to let folk know about time or distance or map or whatever while they've got films or shit on the main screen. Thankfully, there being someone in 1F now comes to the rescue because the person is asleep but the screen is on and shows me journey progress. Huzzah!
There's only one item left in my "video favourites" menu. I'm on my 3rd bourbon - crew came to ask if I wanted anything while I was clutching the menu, looking at the drinks page, and then kept refilling me. "London Has Fallen" has a description that reads like it should be a fun action film, right?
I've seen Plan 9 From Outer Space. I've seen Red Lights. I've seen Monkey Shines, Frankenhooker, The Rock, The Core, Keanu Reeves's directorial debut, that Jet Li film where his revenge mission fails, and Friday the 13th part 8. What I'm trying to say is: I've seen an imperial fuckton of bad movies. I'm OK with bad movies, because I like movies in general. Also, I'm a man who knows how to suspend disbelief. I'm a huge mark for WWE fer chrissakes. But...
Oh Jesus Henry Christ, London Has Fallen is something else.
Less than half an hour in and I'm scribbling notes about how bad it is. Gerard Butler's accent. CGI explosions. The "Mind Your Language" style stereotyping. It's all so appalling, yet somehow I can't take my eyes off it. Bourbon isn't doing the trick so I switch to champgne, but even that doesn't make it better.
I'm laughing pretty hard - not like I'd laugh at, say, Will Ferrell, but perhaps how I'd laugh at a cancer diagnosis because it's the only way to stay sane. It's so hilariously dreadful. The plot, the script, the acting, the accents, the geography, the racism.. and even after all of that, somehow, the actual ending - as in, the last couple of minutes - manage to be genuinely offensive. What a movie. What a terrible, appalling, godawful movie. Ladies and gentlemen, I've found a new benchmark.
Champagne is again flowing without question. I already knew I was breaking the "no drinking if working tomorrow" rule but fuck it, man, fuck it. I'm totally in the mood to be on the sauce the whole flight. Breakfast arrives, accompanied by even more "in a clean glass - that one looks grubby".