Well at last we are off. Tried to check in online to discover we had been upgraded to World Traveller Plus (which apparently means we get proper cutlery and a hot towel. Some people will have paid a lot for that. Not us though, oh no). The only problem is that we were ineligible to check in online.
The next day we arrive at the airport, after I have checked obsessively that I had everything. We go to the check in and were greeted by a BA lady who looked like she had been overlooked for promotion on more than one occasion.
“I see you tried to check in online yesterday”
“err, yes, but it wouldn’t let us do it”
“I can see. I can see exactly what you have been doing”
At this point I felt a sudden pang of guilt. Did she really know everything I had been doing? Did she know that I put one of our bin bags in the neighbours bin the other day or that when I said “oh that’s interesting” to the taxi driver I was actually lying?
“you’ve managed to off load yourself from the flight, I’ll put you back on”. After a bit of 1 finger punching of the keyboard we received the good news “I have actually managed to get you 2 seats together” ( which was code for “you should have booked these online for a total cost of of £80 each, cheapskates”).
I looked suitably thankful (but did she know that really I didn’t mean it?) and headed off for security. Now those of you who have flown with me will know that me and security don’t mix. I don’t like getting undressed in public and I always, always set off the alarm. So no surprises, the alarm goes off. I put my arms up ready for the frisk, but no, not here.
“would you mind stepping into the scanner please sir?”. Ah the infamous body scanner. I imitated the drawing of the stick man on the scanner which ended up making me look like I had got stuck on the “Y” in “YMCA”. Feeling the disco vibe I did a little wiggle. That was met with a curt look. “Please stand still sir”. I obeyed.
All the time I was stood there I was wondering “who’s looking at the non-descript blob which is me on a screen somewhere? I wish I had lost a few pounds before I did this. I wonder If they can see my gold filling?”.
Eventually I was asked to leave the machine and my shoes became suspect number 1. “Would you mind putting your shoes through the machine please”. I obeyed and we were done. Except I then had to get dressed again (which I hate more than getting undressed). Before leaving I had to succumb to my OCD and did the “MCA” of the dance, and headed for duty free.
The duty free at Heathrow terminal 5 is large. I mean really large. It makes Selfridges at the The Trafford Centre look like a corner shop. And Karen is small. I mean really small. For those of you who don’t know Karen she is ” below shelf height” ie smaller than 5 feet and so you can’t see her over any shop displays. For 20 minutes I thought I was going to be going to going to California on my own as I lost her in between the perfume section and a king die bag of M&M’s (which she would have comfortably fit into. Did I mention she was small?). Once reunited we headed off to eat. That’s when I spotted him. A man in a wheelchair. Now up until the last fortnight I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid, but now all I could think was “is he a paralympian?”
He was wearing a Mexico tracksuit, which was a good sign, then confirmation when another dressed identically wheeled himself from behind some shelves carrying a large Toblerone. Wow, a real live athlete. I smiled at him. He smiled back. These Paralympians really are super human aren’t they. Smiling wheeling and holding a Toblerone. The big question was “do I ask him for a photo?”. No, that would be a bit creepy. (for him, not me). Satisfied with a smile I headed on my way.
When we got to Eat I noticed another display of colour and more impressively, hats! There were the Brazilian and USA teams. This was amazing but held my composure and repeated my earlier actions of just smiling. However the teams are big and smiling that much was inevitably going to attract the attention of security so I quietly removed myself and go something to eat.
We were called to the gate and sat patiently. Others were less patient. Even though we had all been allocated seats people we their usual tetchy pushy selves. I on the other hand was chilled and relaxed. My smiling experience with the Paralympians had put me on a higher level and I sauntered (some would say mince, but I prefer sauntered) to the gate.
Karen went ahead of me and a few seconds later her dulcet tones echoed around terminal 5. “And! Get over here, now!). I strode (this was no time for sauntering now) over to her. “We’ve not been checked in”. What! I knew I was right to not trust that woman in Manchester. It’s no wonder she was overlooked for all those promotions. She is obviously pure evil! “it’s ok, we can relocate your seats”. What! And lose out on World Traveller Plus and the proper cutlery! “We have 2 seats for you in Business Class”. Hello, Business Class. “oh, ok then”. I smiled graciously (and this smile was considerably larger than the ones which I gave to the Paralympians. Sorry, they may be super humans but they don’t have the ability to upgrade me) and walked to the plane having moved out of the chilled zone I the excited like a child zone.
“Should I be excited that we are in Business Class?” asked Karen. “Yes” I replied. “why?” she asked. “You’ll see”. And then she saw the whole flat bedded, complimentary champagne, real cutlery joy that is Business Class. We had 11 hours to watch as many films, eat as much as we could, oh and try out the beds. It just wasn’t long enough! Still we did our best.