Project Konigsberg #6 Start spreading the news, i'm leaving today

You'd think with each successive day would come less stamina and more exhaustion, but the post-midnight finish on Saturday was a surprise. Perhaps the triumph over absurdity was such an emotional boost that we were all energised, or perhaps it was elation that we'd finally finished and might be able to relax a bit. Either way, it was the latest night yet but a lie-in was definitely on the cards.

So, I woke up at about 0630 or so, feeling like shit and with the light still on. I totally didn't enjoy staying at the Seafarers. The location was great and price unbeatable because New York is insanely expensive, but a single bed and no en-suite toilet or shower plus the limited choice of way too hot, or really loud breezy leg-level aircon unit... not much going for it.

Thankfully I had loads of fizz left so could rehydrate pretty quickly. I chatted with Helen while typing up the previous day's events and then thought, there is no way I am getting out of bed. My TV suddenly decided that instead of 1 channel it had 29, so I flicked through them until I found something which wasn't adverts or cartoons or God. This meant settling on a Fox News talking heads debate about immigration and Syrian refugees and oh my fucking hell please make it stop you evil uncaring intolerant selfish deluded misanthropic pieces of fucking shit.

Thankfully on another channel I managed to find a documentary about the horrors of the American penal system, and once that finished I hit paydirt: the History channel continues to defy its name and shows back to back lunatic conspiracy bullshit in the guise of MUFON Investigates. First, an episode about how Men In Black are a real phenomena and they're governmental or shadow-governmental or alien and they have inhuman powers of intimidation and etc etc CUCKOO. CUCKOO. Then another episode, about underwater UFOs. Perhaps I've misunderstood what the F stands for in UFO all this time.

Lester badgers me about getting up and going for breakfast and I brush him off. But 10am arrives and I really do need to think about showering, dressing, packing, blogging, and fucking off. So that's what I do. Murray adds to the badgering and I explain my predicament, and at the stroke of 1100 check-out time I reach the lobby. I get a tag and leave one bag in their office, then go to the mezzanine to steal wireless and post the blog entry and then we can leave. Mark is going to do his own thing, involving crossings we missed, while me and the Scotsman head to SoHo.

I don't really know what's in SoHo. Apparently it's a nice shopping district and the cab drops us at Spring St. Wandering along there are numerous high-end boutiques and then a shop called Evolution. Part shop part museum, this place is awesome. It sells bones and stuffed animals and freeze-dried animals and meteorites and crystal skulls and etc. There are racoon penis bones, a full gorilla skeleton - yours for just $15k, America - 405lb meteorites, porcupine quills, freeze-dried mice, giant hornets in resin, bear skulls, fossils, etc. I don't take any photos 'cos it seems like the sort of thing that would offend or annoy them.

Andrei was meant to be visiting a brewery in Brooklyn but the balance of probabilities fell on the side of it not being worth chancing it, so instead he had holed up in a bar named Fool's Gold in the Bowery. He messaged me to say the food and drink was all great, and it was only about 7 blocks from us so I said we'd go there. As we walked we passed some giant street market which Murray wanted to briefly explore, so we parted but it was unimpressive enough that he caught me up before I reached Andrei.

Murray's mate Ian was also there, and in fact he and Andrei were seated almost next to each other at the but didn't know each other. Introductions were made and we all repaired to a table. I was instructed to order a Founders Oatmeal Stout and did so. Since I'd claimed earlier that I wouldn't touch booze until I'd eaten, this drink made me a liar. Whatever.

I did order food at the same time: a breakfast burger. It was painful to ask for salad instead of chips, this promise to my niece is a real pain in the arse. 2 months now. Anyway, the burger was fantastic and the stout wasn't bad either. NFL was on all the TVs, multiple games at once all at the same volume and the bar was getting crowded and loud despite being only 1pm.

Andrew popped up on Facebook and said he was propping a bar in the upper west side, but jumped in a cab to come meet us. A bit later Lester did similar, except instead of bar propping he'd exploited the time and weather and had now got a ferry across the East River and under the Brooklyn Bridge. Meh.

The beer kept coming though Andrew couldn't face it, so was on the Bloody Mary. He seemed impressed and invited me to taste and holy shit, it was awesome. For a start the fucking thing had bacon in it. Bacon! And it was so chock full of horseradish sauce I was still feeling the great burning sensation on the roof of my mouth a good 90 seconds later. Why have I never known Bloody Mary could taste like this?

Nonetheless I stayed on the stout. I was kinda surprised there was a full reunion and that we were all drinking, and pleasantly so. But lots of the talk was of flights because 3 of us are flying today and 2 tomorrow. Andrei's first flight of two is delayed and it's already looking like he might have to stay in Dallas tonight, and he nips out a couple of times to speak to American about what can be done.

By now I'm checked in for all 3 legs: JFK to London, London to Bergen, Bergen to London. The latter two are another back to back and I've this time secured the same seat on both legs. Fun. Shame I'll have to get off really. But JFK is first and I am already crossing my fingers that I'll somehow get upgraded to first class on the way back to Europe this evening.

3pm comes and a large bar bill is settled. The Andres leave first then us Europeans, to get the metro back to the hostel. I get the closest all weekend of being angry with Lester because the metro is fucking confusing. We're at a station with only one line, and are on the F uptown/Bronx platform. The first train is an A to Far Rockaway, which just isn't possible or feasible. The next train is also an A, but to 207th. Mark says it's obviously going the right way and that we should get on. I had really wanted to wait for an F 'cos I had no confidence these trains weren't going to pull some u-turn shit in a tunnel somewhere. As luck would have it, we do end up at the right station so the faux anger dissipates already.

Onto the 6 and off at 14th and Union, Mark is off to rendezvous with a friend while I lead Murray and myself to the hostel where we pick up the bags. During this time the heavens completely open and suddenly Uber is charging 1.5x their normal cost and so many people have jumped in yellow cabs we can't find one to take us to the airport. Eek. So OK, fuck it, shall we go via public transport? Why not.

14th and Union to 34th and Harald then a walk to Penn. The rain has stopped anyway. At Penn I buy LIRR tickets and we get a train to Jamaica which leaves in 5 minutes. I'm pretty stressed by now. I like to be at the airport nice and early, like 3 hours or so, for peace of mind but also for serious lounge action. As we leave Penn my flight is in 2h40m, but Murray is flying Virgin and doesn't leave until half hour after me.

At Jamaica the doors don't open until the surly conductors checks everyone's ticket, and anyone complaining just slows her down. Once off we're at the perfect platform for the changeover, but Murray's metrocard has insufficient balance left so he has to buy one and that means we just about miss an AirTrain, but never mind because the next one is in 3 minutes.

My flight is 2h10m away and I'm thinking this eats seriously badly into lounge time. Towards the airport, T7 is a late stop and Murray has disappeared off at T4. Most people getting off at T7 seem completely unable to figure out how to exit the station and reach the check-in desks. It's still pissing down.

Marvellous liars' star

Inside the terminal I'm staggered by the queues. They are huge. There's no obvious fast track queue and it looks like check-in queues are merging with those for security. Because of this I accidentally jump a load of places and a member of airport staff shouts at me to fuck off to the back. Suitably contrite I do so, and a family joins after me and asks if this really is the security queue.

It moves slowly, and the woman who shouted at me is allowing a few people through a roped off bit every so often. She picks out the family from behind me and then when i get parallel someone waltzes up and says 'fast track' and they are let through. Oh, well, hello, I've got a fast track ticket. This works and I am allowed into the single line.

It still moves very slowly but eventually I reach the front, and my boarding pass doesn't scan. I try numerous times and angles and adjust the brightness and there's no reaction at all. Not that the pass is invalid or needs exchanging or whatever, just nothing from the machine at all. the security guy tries more angles and for longer than me and it just does fuck all, so he just says i have to leave the queue and go get a new pass. Well fuck you JFK.

I go back towards the terminal entrance and spot signs for BA first and club world check-in. Turns out there's a separate bit, and the machine prints out a new boarding pass despite trying really hard to convince me I don't want one because it knows I have one on my mobile. I get the paper version and join a different fast track queue, albeit one of the same length and speed as the one in the other hall.

Other people join the queue then ask staff where fast track is because this doesn't seem to match it. Oh dear. By now there's only about 1h15m to my flight and I'm getting genuinely worried I might miss the fucking thing, since I have to be through with 40 minutes to go. I mention what happened to a member of staff but just receive sympathy. A couple of minutes later they call out for people flying on the 1830 (I'm on the 1900) so I really am not the only person suffering here.

A very very panicked man runs to the first class desks and seems to be very luckily allowed to check all his bulky luggage with about 15 seconds to go before his flight closes for check-in. The woman checking passports and boarding passes is one of the slowest moving, acting and speaking people I've ever seen and just as she's about to check mine, I am forced back by someone shining their staff ID badge at me forcefully while they silently escort some other guy through. Whatever.

Through, I am totally prepared for the x-ray stuff. Everything is in my bag apart from the pad, passport, boarding pass, and phone. Oh and hat. But the people in front of me take a while to empty all their metal and sort out belts and etc. Through the x-ray Mr Escorted Latecomer is subjected to a pat down by a very cheerful and jovial member of the security staff because his big fuck off metal necklace pendant set it off.

Also both of the men who I followed had their bags submitted to bonus checks. But I am through come 1755 and follow the signs to the lounge, which is all the way round near where non-fast track security emerges. The woman on the lounge reception is fantastically friendly and I enter a lounge I last visited in 2007.

There's a self-service area called The Pub with 2 taps. I grab a glass, put it under a tap, and basically nothing but froth comes out. I know how to pour beer but end up with a Copenhagen-esque 90% head. So I put it aside and try again, and the same happens. Well fuck this. So I get a bottle out of the fridge, except there's no bottle opener. Fucking hell.

I am in a rotten mood now. There's a pre-flight supper area but I don't want a sit down meal, I want a shit buffet of hot food and some easily obtainable alcohol. Eventually I find a fridge of other bottles and there is an opener, and there are sandwiches. That'll have to do. I get a seat and bitch like fuck about everything to Andrei. And before long boarding is announced anyway. I'm sick of JFK airport and want to get on board as quick as I can so I stride to gate 10 and get the fuck on.

Upstairs on a 747 is a happy place and I'm very happy with my seat. Unlimited legroom, aisle access, no-one clambering over me, and hello, yes, I'll have a champagne please. Once the cabin fills up there is a lot of musical chairs as various people who hadn't managed to get seats together rearrange the cabin, and the crew are so delighted with the outcome one says "more champagne for everyone!" and brings the bottle out. I am lucky enough to get a refill too.

Menus come out and they are cut down, this is a brutal red-eye service. In local time it's 7pm-7am on the timetable, but because of tailwinds and timezones this is only going to be a 5h45m flight so that's not a good amount of kip for most people, or even me. We taxi out into a queue of planes and way after the captain has told all cabin crew to take their seats for take off, someone from row 60 or 61 gets up and goes to the loo. A crew member shouts at the, the passenger says something back and this causes the crew to jump out of their seat and look out of the window. Has she claimed she saw something bad in the wing or something? Smoke?

Who knows. Passenger sits down then goes to the loo anyway and what the fuck. Thankfully for her we do taxi for a long time, behind a bunch of other planes and towards a runway that's being used for both take-off and landings. After about 45 minutes we take off and again, way before the seatbelt sign goes off or our climb completes, a bunch of people get up and start doing shit.

My 63A seatmate told me on boarding that I needn't worry about her causing me a problem, but she couldn't really control for the presence of a screaming crying child in the row behind us. Sigh. I may have been able to drown most of that out since I had my headphones on to watch Family Guy, but the entertainment system was totally fucked. I try so many times: either the episode just won't start, or starts and then resets after a random amount of time, or whatever. It's not specific to the show I want to watch, it happens with everything. At one point it says there's no on demand TV at all, only broadcast, and that seems to be OK... except it dies after half a minute. In the air all TV stops working and there's only the map, then it comes back and behaves even worse. I can start a show but then it randomly skips immediately to places throughout the show including the beginning. So basically it's unwatchable and I am pretty angry.

It's not my seat, at least. Lots of people have complained and the CSD says she's going to reboot it, and this seems to do the trick. I decide to have a bloody mary rather than champagne, and am given two. Well OK then. Food service comes very quick, with starter and dessert on the same plate. It's pretty small and pretty nice. Despite the menu offering a choice for dessert I am not offered one and just get a cake thing, which is OK but I really wanted the cheese.

We have cards for picking what to do for breakfast: sleep, or eat. I choose eat, and pick the cooked breakfast option with a danish and a smoothie. After dinner I start writing this post and finish the only TV worth watching - the entertainment system is a crufty old version with much less choice than on the way out - and decide to kip for a bit anyway. I put an audio programme about mathematicians on and sleep for a couple of hours, off and on, interrupted by losing feeling in my hands a couple of times thanks to bad interactions with hard surfaces.

When I wake properly the cabin lights are on and it's 1h05m to landing. Breakfast service starts and I'm given a tray with no proper food on, just a derisory amount of fruit. I did not order fruit. But I did order the smoothie, and it is a strange flavour. The empty plate on my tray is never filled so in the end I receive not one single item of food that I ordered. Thank fuck there's an arrivals lounge with a breakfast buffet and, hopefully, a massage.

I want to charge my phone but this seat has no USB socket. The captain and CSD in turn do long announcements about where we are and when we're going to land and how everyone should go for a tactical piss, and once they finish the entertainment system stops working again. Don't get me wrong, I'm kinda aware that the primary objective of a flight across the Atlantic is to get people across the Atlantic safely, punctually and comfortably, and that's what's happened. The seat still turns into a bed 'n that. But dual bloody marys aside, the whole experience from first setting foot into JFK T7 until now has been largely one of annoyance and frustration. Perhaps my mood will improve on the ground.

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