February 3rd, 2006

This IS me (by schwitters)Default

Come Home Billy Bird

I joined the jet set yesterday, covering a meeting in Edinburgh for my boss. If it hadn't been for the thought of standing up for two hours at the other end and giving a presentation from notes cobbled together at four the previous afternoon, I'd have been thrilled at the prospect of flying to Scotland instead of going to work. As it was, fear clouded my otherwise pleasant early-morning ride to the Woolwich Ferry and thence the free motorcycle parking at London City airport.

I checked in and was given seat 13F. Not being superstitious, I cared only that I'd bagsied a window and not an aisle seat.

The first crisis occurred when I remembered that my right-hand trouser pocket contained, as it always does, a Swiss Army knife. I confessed and was instructed to purchase a padded envelope for £3 so it could be posted back to me. I had a £20 note; they had no change. I went to buy a coffee, and at that point my flight was called and I dashed off to board it. When I returned to the airport (some hours later than I was expecting to, of which more later) everyone denied all knowledge of my penknife. I feel naked without it.

When I reached the gate, I handed over my boarding pass only to discover that my ticket had been reserved but the payment hadn't gone through, and I would be required to run back (through the departure lounge and security and down the stairs) to the ticket desk to purchase a new ticket - with my card - while they held the flight for me to board under the resentful gaze of all the passengers I'd held up.

Once on the plane things got much better: the seat next to mine was occupied by a rather dashing pilot who was hitching a ride home after flying to Frankfurt. He was covered in gold braid and made the cabin crew giggle during their safety demonstration. We arrived in Edinburgh and I got in a taxi driven by a friendly young woman who offered to come back for me at 1.

The presentation itself was anticlimactic; there were only six attendees and I wasn't even required to stand up while I said my piece. After discussion, lunch and chat I strolled outside to wait for my nice taxi driver, who didn't show up. I gave her 15 minutes, went back in, called another taxi, hared across the city and missed my 14:00 flight by five minutes.

I had to pay a £60 supplement - with my card, again - to a severe BA lady who looked me up on her computer and said "You had some trouble this morning, too, did you? Not having a good day?" But despite her frostiness and my strictly non-transferable ticket she did grant me a seat on the 16:00 service.

Which was delayed until 17:00 and took off at 17:25.

At 18:00, the captain announced that the plane had developed a fault and been diverted to Birmingham, where we would await a replacement.

We touched down at City (flying low over Canary Wharf, the Dome and the green laser beam thing from the Naval College) at 8:30, by which time the ferry had shut up shop and I had to go round to the Blackwall Tunnel.

I can't really complain. Pretty much everything that went wrong was a result of my own stupidity, I never object to hanging around in airports watching planes take off, and the diversion meant I got three airplane rides for the price of two.

I also had the opportunity to buy some premium gin at Edinburgh airport. I was lucky enough to be served by a woman who told me how to drink it (with cucumber, not lemon). "You'll either love it or hate it," she said cheerfully, "but I think you'll love it."

I loved it when I got in last night, but I would have loved anything alcoholic by that stage.
  • Current Music
    Come Home Billy Bird - The Divine Comedy
This IS me (by schwitters)Default

♥ ♥ ♥

At lunchtime today I made my 25th blood donation. They gave me a badge.

I'm very proud of my quarter-century of almost-pints, despite the fact that my contribution to the proceedings consists of lolling about for ten minutes clenching and unclenching my fist then eating two Tuc Sandwich Crackers and a packet of crisps.

I started giving blood soon after I turned 18. It's taken me ten years to get this far. Healthy donors can carry on giving until they're 70, so provided I live that long - and don't suffer illness or injury that requires me to receive blood myself, or contract hepatitis or CJD, or spend too much of my time having sex with men who've had sex with other men - I could certainly give blood a hundred times.

It's quite an awesome thought. There probably aren't 25 people walking round with some of my blood in their veins, as some donations are destined for the lab, but there must be a fair few. There might even be someone out there who wouldn't be alive without my red cells. You don't know where your blood ends up, but you know it's doing good somewhere.

It's been an eventful decade. I wonder what my life will be like when I make my 50th, 75th and 100th donations?
  • Current Mood
    thoughtful thoughtful