The bluetooth headphones come pre-charged and I drown out the world with a podcast. Back at the booze shelf I find prosecco and unreasonably large glasses, plus more comfort food. Also a bottle of proper beer. At the seat I rage eat and rage drink.
My flight is at 2030. A gate is announced fairly early, and because I’m slightly worried about getting too rage-pissed I leave with plenty of time even though it’s only a 6 minute walk. At the gate I buy yet another coke zero, and much to my delight boarding is announced at 1955. Very few people get up; I wander through, and we’re told to hang back on the airbridge because the plane isn’t quite ready for us yet. I’m about 6th in the queue. While I’m waiting, a large man queue jumps his way right up to second, then tries to hang his suit on the tensa barrier thing.
When we’re let through, the queue jumper hinders all of us by managing to walk in such a way that he’s taking up most of the width of the corridor, and going inordinarly slowly. Much slower than the pace he used to get to the almost-front. It’s a masterclass in rudeness.
Onboard, I am further hindered by a man having trouble figuring out where row 2 is. Eventually grab my seat window seat 6A and wonder if anyone is going to sit next to me.
They don’t. At all. I have the entirety of row 6 to myself. Hurrah! In fact, this is probably the emptiest BA flight I’ve ever been on. Boarding is finished ludicrously early, there must only have been around 20 or so people onboard in total.
We leave the gate about 20 minutes early. Excellent. Flight time might be longer than usual, we’re told, because of some strong headwinds, and indeed it’s pretty turbulent once we’re up in the air but that passes. Service doesn’t bother with the trolley because there’s so few people they just take orders individually and go fetch stuff; I ask for the nice IPA I’d had on the way out and am told no, they don’t have any (of course), because on the way out some guy celebrating his 40th birthday drank them dry of it. Apparently he enjoyed it. Thanks for telling me that.
So, OK, I’ll have two Heineken please. That’s repeated back to me, and she returns with one Heineken. Oh whatever, just take my money. I’m content to just sit here, drinking, eating this tapas plate thing and listening to podcasts.
Oh but I can’t listen to podcasts can I, because the pre-charged headphones have run out of battery already. Aha! I have a USB power brick within easy reach... which refuses to charge the headphones. Plug in, light comes on, ten seconds later, light goes off. Repeat. Endlessly. I spend 20-odd minutes just turning the brick back on in the vain hope that enough charge will make it to the ‘phones that I can listen to stuff on the way home, but of course that entirely fails because fuck today.
The plane pulls up at a gate in the middle of T5A. A small mercy. A short walk to a fast moving queue at immigration, where the electronic machine takes an age for me until I take my glasses off at which point it instantly lets me in, as if to say “Oh! Darren! I didn’t recognise you with those glasses you’ve been wearing for the last 5 years”.
I make my way down to the tube station, where a guy is telling everyone there’s no Piccadilly line trains for 20 minutes. Of course. How silly of me to think I’d left public transport fail behind in Italy. So, back up to the local bus stops and a 490 to Hatton Cross. A ten minute wait for the X26 and, actually, the rest of the journey is great. Despite the tube fail, I am in Surbiton around 80 minutes after touching down and meeting Helen in Sainsburys, whose basket contains one bottle each of white wine, Guinness, and Diet Coke. Being back in England is great. Maybe I’ll give up all this travelling lark. 57 countries is enough for anyone, right?