Top Tier Back 242

It’s hot. Why is it so hot? I’m hot. Perhaps I should write this even faster and sloppier than usual so I can get outside in the cold. Hello, I’m in Bologna, Italy.

It’s December 2017. This is not the final chapter of a 2016-esque resolution, however; my main challenge this year was to weigh under 90kg on December 1st, which I achieved by the skin of my damn teeth. Had I not, I would have banned myself from alcohol in 2018. Thankfully that hasn’t come to pass, but whatever happened I was going to enjoy December.

As it goes that wasn’t originally going to include travelling, but I put so much off this year in a not-quite-aborted attempt at buying a flat that it feels like I’ve done fuck all this year. But when it didn’t quite fall apart but got put on hold in early November, I’d had enough and booked me some flights.

For the first time ever, I travelled into work with my stuff and to Heathrow from the office. This is a real pain in the arse. I work near Tower Bridge, which is nowhere near anything useful. Citymapper gave me multiple unattractive options. I wandered to a bus stop under a railway bridge on a busy road and waited next to kids running havoc for a bus to Elephant & Castle before realising that everything about that situation was horrific; so I gave up and walked to London Bridge. Jubilee Line to Green Park, Piccadilly Line to Heathrow T5. Jesus, people use the tube every day? Awful. Even though I had a seat most of the way. Bleurgh.

Anyway, I got to the airport at 5.45pm. By 6.01pm I had a glass of champagne, despite my boarding pass not scanning at the desk, my bag being chosen for secondary checks because of my damn phone holster and, whoa, I’m wearing a belt these days. What’s more, it takes ages to take it off because it’s on the farthest notch. Check my slim ass out.

Private corridor to the first class lounge

Went straight to my second favourite seats in the lounge, by the champagne bar. Got myself a glass and relaxed. Everyone around me was on the phone/skype/etc. I pondered asking at the desk if there might be an upgrade available for cash, but decided not to. Hungry, I wandered around to the buffet and returned with a plate of beef, potatoes, vegetables, and cheese. Wolfed it down with a second glass, and wandered around for desert.

Oh, hello. These people are famous. It’s Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. They look a little flustered and harried and tired, and bigger than when they’re on the TV. No-one’s making a fuss over them, though on my return journey with a slice of carrot cake Hammond and May have disppeared. A sheepish man has walked up to Clarkson and is asking if he’d mind a photo. “Absolutely no chance. No chance in hell” says JC, clearly channelling his inner Vince McMahon. I might think he’s a dick but here I think he’s being fairly reasonable; his face and body language had clearly sent a “look, I’m tired and am just waiting for my plane” message to me at least. But now I feel a bit dirty for being pro-Clarkson on some level.

Best wash that feeling away with another large champagne, eh. Helen was regaling me with tales of peril from her commute home, as the guard (or automatic thing?) kept announcing different destinations at each stop and it was rarely clear where she might actually end up. Meanwhile I fretted about my gate not being announced, until it was and as per usual I am there way too bloody early.

Never mind; I need to buy some toothpaste and a brush anyway, having forgotten to bring a single one of my hundreds of amenity kits from home. Diet Coke and a protein bar while I’m at it, then back to the gate. Boarding is announced but I hang back; I’ve deliberately chosen an aisle seat near the front and my bag fits under a seat, so I might as well get on as late as I can.

The gate dispatch UI is from the 80s. Amazing.

Y’know what, fuck getting on late. That’s boring. Through the priority lane and into seat 4D, with someone already in 4F. Will someone sit in 4E? My research has pointed to this being a very empty flight, but the captain announces it’s full so be careful with your bags etc. But soon after that they say boarding is complete, and the seat next to me remains free. Score!

Most of business class is free too. There are 12 seats but only 2 people; I am more annoyed than ever that I couldn’t pay for an upgrade. The entire row behind me attempt to upgrade themselves, but are told they can sit in any free seat they like so long as it’s behind the damn curtain. Cheek.

We leave the gate early, of all things. After the comedy cabin safety video I start watching wrestling videos on my iPad, downloaded from Amazon Prime Video. Who knew they had such a large collection of wrestling documentaries and stuff? Amazing. So here’s WRESTLING SUPERSTARS: CACTUS JACK. It’s basically a compendium of 3 matches from World Class Championship Wrestling, with Skandar Akbar managing him. ‘Tis quite fun.

“A beer to finish off the evening sir?” Go on then. There’d been no M&S menu in the seat back so I didn’t know what was on offer, but there’s an IPA available these days and I’ve never had it so this gets good untappd points. Cactus Jack finishes so I move on to Dustin Rhodes fighting at RENEGADES RAMPAGE. Seeing all these old matches featuring Chris Adams, Eric Embry, etc, I’m finally getting some idea what Steve Austin talks about in his podcast so much. But after an hour of in-ring action I’m more in the mood for a documentary, so...

YES. Wrestling with Satan, a documentary about the Christian Wrestling Federation. This is fantastic. I only get 40 or so minutes through on the flight but love every second of it. But, oh, we’re coming into land. Ace.

This flight was timetabled to land at Bologna at 2310. All day the BA app had been telling me it’d be more like 2325, but now here we are on the ground at 2305. I’ve read that it’s a small and efficient airport, and am hoping it’s true. Being so late there are only 2 buses into the city centre left for the day, and one of them is at 2315. My aisle seat choice was to enable a fast exit.

I’m ready to go, in international hat. Helen tells me how Buster has spent the evening.

Down some steps. Walk across the tarmac. Straight up to an immigration desk and waved through with the smallest raise of an eyebrow. Waltz straight through baggage reclaim and out. Follow the signs to the bus. Get outside, the bus is there but its doors are closed. Run up to it, he opens the door for me. Hurrah! I’d bought a ticket in advance - a QR code on my phone - he scans it and I’m on the 2315. Magnifico!

I am in my room, 242 (sadly at the back, not Front) in a city centre hotel directly opposite Bologna Centrale railway station, less than 25 minutes after we touched down. This is pretty remarkable and I’m very happy about it. At reception the woman had told me my room comes with breakfast, which is even better news, and said something about the mini-bar which I didn’t quite catch.

Hot though, innit? Where’s the aircon... 25ºc! Fuck that!

Before and after

Free wifi, check. Beer from the mini-bar, to hell with the price, check. The only thing which remains for me to do is buy a train ticket for tomorrow ... oh. Apparently there are no tickets available for the train I want to get. That’s not ideal. Hopefully I’ll wake up early enough to sort out an alternative.

Created By
Darren Foreman

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.