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My kingdom for a Norse Unwelcome departures

Hello. I'm in Oslo, Norway, because I'm on my way to Australia. You'd think I'd be in a better mood. It's hot though, even with the aircon set to 17 celsius. Hang on, I'm going to turn it down further. Back shortly.

Oh. It won't go any lower. That's highly annoying. Oh well, just add it to the list of annoying things. Like, for example, finding out that yet more people I really like are leaving my work. I wish that flow would stop. Grr. Anyway, I found it out while listening to an all hands broadcast while having an uncharacteristic panic about packing for my trip. With about half an hour to go before my cab to Heathrow I was almost entirely unready save for a long list written in pencil. I never write a packing list but such was the state of my head it felt worthwhile.

Unfortunately, I'm bringing way too much stuff. A laptop plus camera and three lenses have added enough bulk to my stuff that it's impossible for me to fit my running shoes in. Bah. Anyway, my cab arrives on time and I get a text alerting me to the fact 'n all. It's a shiny nice black Merc and the driver is very smartly turned out. It's a far cry from the nonsense I endured on my last trip. Saying goodbye to Helen is more difficult than usual and I'm not all "ooh, yes, flying" goosebumpy or anything.

It's a much longer journey than I'd like, but it was evening rush hour and there's a load of roadworks. Bleurgh. But the driver was a very talkative and friendly man and we chatted non-stop about a range of topics, from state funding for Romanian table tennis to comedy giant furniture purchases to Zoopla to consolidation in the Kingston taxi economy. Even with the stupidly generous tip he still costs me less than half of my last journey; I'm never using Uber to the airport again.

At T5 I wander up towards the First Wing, pausing to decant everything from my trouser pockets into my jacket, and to quickly check that I really am allowed two pieces of hand luggage. I am. Good. So I head to the desk and check in my main suitcase, which feels very strange and I make a mental note to remember to actually get my bag at the other end.

Security is a breeze and the First lounge feels empty. Well, not empty empty, but there's plenty of space to sit. I'm here only 90 minutes before departure, which is late for me. Naturally I go grab a glass of champagne, with which to wash down a mad mix of food.

Here we have some lentil and chickpea veggie curry, a fishcake, some rice, potato cubes, and Italian meatballs. It's nice enough, as is the second glass of champagne that I have after wolfing it down. By now it's only 50 or so minutes until take off and I need a pen. Somehow on Saturday I managed to lose my notebook and pen and I can't stop being annoyed by it.

Three apps simultaneously tell me which gate my flight will depart from, mercifully a nearby A gate. Tons of shops play havoc with my sinuses as I seek out somewhere to sell me a writing instrument.

Choices choices.

No, I don't go in Mont Blanc, despite threatening to do so in conversation with Helen. Load of status symbol bullshit. That said, WH Smith don't sell any pens except a wide range of awful tourist tat like Big Ben pens 'n that. No, I'm not buying a Big Ben pen.

Back at A13, they announce boarding for group 1 almost immediately after I get there. Virtually everyone else in this group is wearing an expensive looking suit and giving me and my WWE NXT shirt looks of phenomenal disdain, making me regret that I'd had a shave on Monday and don't look like a hobo right now.

Sitting onboard in seat 1A I'm feeling a bit happier. CheckMyTrip tells me we're actually going to leave 5 minutes early, and in fact the tannoy from the flight deck says the same thing, only for it to be nonsense as we stay at the gate beyond 1925. I'm itchy for free stuff and grumpy that business class is so busy.

Parking guidance.

A hot towel arrives. I tap REMEMBER BAG into a note on my phone, and start listening to a podcast. Still on the ground I'm conversing with Helen, and Chris – who inadvertently sends me some random address from Yelp, because Chris can't fucking use an iPhone X properly.

Being in seat 1A is nice 'n all, but it means my two bags are up top because I have to leave the seat area around my feet completely free during taxi, take-off, and landing. I've got my iPad out but there's more stuff I want, but if this is the worst mistake I make in the next 10 days I'll cope. Anyway it's dark outside and the window is so blurry that there'd be no hope of getting any nice pictures.

The senior member of cabin crew comes to offer me and 1C his personal welcome onboard, and his thanks for our continued custom. He knows how much time we spend on planes and it really is appreciated. This "personal" welcome is repeated to everyone else in row 1 and row 2 and probably further back. 1C makes a bit of a "I dunno about you but this is my first flight!" joke. We don't talk again.

There's a new version of the Flying Start safety video since July and I'm impressed, I think it's very funny. What’s less funny is that as the cabin pressurises my eyes start to hurt a lot. What the fuck is this this fucking eye pain? It might be dehydration but I'm not sure. It's unpleasant, I know that. Probably sinuses due to not quite being over the cold I thought I'd successfully deflected with 4 days of First Defence.

When I first booked this flight I was in economy but a tempting upgrade offer won me over (because of course it fucking did). Timing was very good, because BA have recently upped their game in short-haul business class catering. People on FlyerTalk have been almost universally positive about the changes and I was eager to see how decent my free scran would be.

(As it goes service starts at seats 2A/2C, then 1D/1F, and then us in 1A/1C. Eh? Hang on, aren't I meant to be fucking first?)

For liquid I opt for champagne, naturally, and for solids the beef carpaccio. It comes with a small egg/prawn/lettuce salad, a warm bread roll, and a Do&Co chocolate mousse thing. Even with all the reviews I'm amazed – everything is delicious. Well played BA!

I'm proactively offered another mini bottle of champagne which I obviously want. Oslo isn't a particularly long way, about 2hrs in the air, but they're serving us very efficiently. 1C manages to confuse the crew by asking for something like two separate whiskies and a sparkling water all at once.

As the "we're twenty minutes away" announcement is made I'm given a fourth champagne and, huh, y'know what I think I'm drunk now. 1C is offered a plastic to put his whisky in so he can keep drinking during our descent. My eyes have been fine since we levelled out but as we head towards ground my ears start doing that thing that ears do on planes, except yawning isn't doing anything.

I have a feeling my sinuses really are fucked. Bleurgh. Landing, we're told that the airbridge to the terminal is broken so we'll be getting off by walking down some steps and being led across the tarmac into the terminal. Then we're told the person driving the mobile steps has parked in the wrong fucking place. Finally we're told that it's very windy outside so the steps will be perilous. Good job my balance isn't affected by my ears eh?

Kevin pops up on Facebook and I point out that yes, it might be Tuesday still in Europe but I am indeed on my way to Sydney where I arrive on Friday. It's a 63 hour journey the way I do it, what's yer damn issue?

It's high comedy at Oslo. They let us down the stairs but the barrier at the bottom is still up. It takes a couple of minutes for anyone to start leading us in the right direction; we walk up some steps into the broken airbridge, taking a sharp left at the top right next to the wide open end that would normally be attached to the plane door. At the end of the corridor the escalator is not functioning and barriered off, and the door at the other end is locked.

Eventually someone removes the escalator barrier, but doesn't turn the thing on. Finally I'm in a long arrivals corridor, looking down at all the closed shops and bars. Apart from us, and one other flight whose passengers merge into our flow, the whole place is empty. It is 11pm I guess, but I expected a bit more. Dunno why.

At immigration I opt to use an automated gate rather than go to a desk; when I reach the front, a window pops up saying it's just updating its anti-virus software and I should wait a bit. Seriously what the fuck! But then I'm through, and successfully remember that I have a bag to collect. Given the time it took to get here it's not a surprise that they're coming out already, and mine arrives literally as I approach the carousel.

Because of the late arrival I'd opted to stay in the hotel that's connected to the airport, a Radisson Blu just across the way.

At reception I queue up behind a bunch of other late arrivals and realise I still can barely hear a fucking thing. Swallowing and yawning are doing no good, I'm basically deaf. Fucks sake. Thankfully I don't need to hear much right now because checking in at a hotel is always the same, even if I hadn't made out every word I knew he needed my passport, an imprint of my credit card, had written my room number on my card holder and pointed to where the lifts are.

I had half expected some kind of room upgrade but none was mentioned. When I enter the one I'm given, I'm confused. The bed looks weird, I mean it looks like a sofa bed and the TV is facing the wrong way and hang on, what the fuck, I've been given a GIANT room with double bed AND sofa bed and two windows and several chairs and it's huge.

On the table is a bottle of posh water and some macaroons and, oh look, a personal welcome.

So it IS an upgrade. Hurrah! Good news about the late check-out too, though not that important really.

The discount at the restaurant isn't much use because one thing I had made out very clearly downstairs was "the restaurant is shut, but the bar is open until 1am". Well... seems rude not to go and have a beer, doesn't it? Hello, 26 North.

Taking my place as white middle-aged male drinking alone next to all the other white middle-aged males drinking alone, I ask for "a dark beer" and he's like, you want a brown ale or a stout? Well I'll have a stout, thank you. It's nice, nice enough that I have another one, which is seriously ill-advised.

Casting out "what shall I do in Oslo tomorrow?" to a WhatsApp group, conversation ensues but in terms of realistic suggestions I'm inundated by a single response, which is to visit a museum of very small bottles.

I'm really way too drunk by now, and still can't hear a fucking thing. Also since I'm in Norway, I'm reasonably sure those two beers have cost me £24 or so. Fuck. Time for one of those beds methinks.

Created By
Darren Foreman
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