A complete change of plan from the Friday I had originally planned. Had to drag myself out of bed at at 4am today. I lie. My alarm was set for 4am, I got up at 4.22am and rushed around to get ready. I had a really strange dream last night, I think that was playing on my mind, hence the delay to get up. In any case, I was ready by 4.50am and waiting for my taxi to arrive. It was a brisk twenty minute ride down the motorway to Terminal One and I was dropped outside in the light rain. I walked through to the Air Lingus desk, inserted a credit card, tapped in my booking reference and my boarding passes were printed. Both, for my outward and return journey. I then headed to the security area. It was before 5.30am but there was already a big long queue of holiday makers and fellow business travelers. This was a new area, with eight points and new fancy cameras (one at adult eye level and another and child eye level). It was a little like a post office or bank but you did not have the fancy female voice over, “Next customer please” or “Please go to point eight”. Instead the members of staff had to shout and wave their arms to get your attention. When my boarding pass and passport was checked I had to stand on a marked square tile and look directly into the Creative web cam device. Then I was cleared to go through to the actual security check. Ahead of me was a Brummie who started to have a casual chat about the slow process. He then went onto to mention semtex and the IRA, in fact using the immortal line, “It never stopped the IRA” and I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me whole! One of the lines was closed but opened for us and we went through. Once I had cleared security I walked through to the airside (is that the technical term). There was a long queue for the Cafe Nero coffee shop, so I opted to forfeit my morning cup of tea. I noticed a stand by the duty free shop on the corner and had to take a photograph for Pav. I am not sure if this is something that has featured on Top Gear but it would be nice to say, “Yeah, I’ve got a Porsche… travel bag!”.
I had a little sit down for ten minutes or so before heading up to my departure gate. It was 84 and a bit of a walk across to the other older part of the building. I had another security check before getting up to the gate. Here there was about a ten to fifteen minute wait before we finally boarded. I had changed my seat from the isle to the window and had the whole row to myself. The flight must have been half full, being so early in the morning. The flight itself was very pleasant and I feel asleep as I usually do. I gave up on the thought of a cup of tea on the flight and promised myself a cup once I got to the hotel before the training starts.
We landed promptly on time and by 8am, I was sitting on the AirCoach bound for the city centre. Thankfully it stops right out the Gresham Hotel, where I would be conducting training. Once I got there, I went up to to the first floor to find the meeting room empty. I then had a little mad panic, did I have the correct local time? I went back down to the lobby and actually went online to check and updated a tweet (is that the correct phrase?) to broadcast to the online world my stupidity. Then, after a few minutes checking my Yahoo! Mail and updated my Facebook status, I headed back up to the meeting.
It was about 2.30pm by the time I was back at Dublin Airport. Plenty of time before my flight home to Heathrow. So, first stop was the bar, Baileys Bar in fact. I wondered why the television was on so loud and why everyone seemed to be peeled to the screens. It was the opening of the Olympics in China and the teams of participating countries were on parade. I got a drink and then sat down to write some blog notes and watch the rest of the ceremony. Well as much as I could before I had to go and call a colleague and then catch my flight home.
It was about 3.15pm that the Great British team appeared. I was wondering how ironic it was I. I should have been in the office watching this but instead I was across the water. Not something I had planned but never mind, after watching a few more countries I opted that it was best to make a move. Or at least check the departure gate for my flight. It was B24, just around the corner. I bought some chocolates for my family and then headed back down the departure gate to wait. There was a big crowd, so I had to stand up. The flight departure time was 5pm and it clearly stated on my boarding pass that the gate would close at 16:35. It was gone that time before anyone from Air Lingus appeared. We were eventually allowed on around ten to the hour but someone over the tannoy had said that this would not affect the departure time, I was a bit more skeptical. When I got to my seat, I found someone already sitting it in, so had to explain I was in seat 10C, show my pass before he moved into 10D. My row on the left of the plane had a chap in his suit sitting by the window and looking outside at the ground crew but the seat next to me was empty and I hoped it would stay like that as more and more people walked passed me to their seat. I was lucky, the seat was going to be free for the journey. I had heard various stories from colleagues that Dublin airport was notorious on a Friday afternoon with so many people going away for the weekend, plus being the summer season many actually flying off on holiday. I should therefore consider myself lucky, the flight was only delayed by about five to ten minutes for take off and then had to be stacked in a queue in approach to Heathrow (which is to be expected) and I think I landed around 6.20pm and headed straight for arrivals, to see ABC taxi driver holding up my name on a board. I was nearly home and got there just after 7pm. My long long day had finally come to an end.
My weekend began around twenty past nine that evening. I was waiting for Ryan to pick me up and put on the TV for a bit to kill some time. I switched over to The Hits (yes I was browsing the music channels, they have switched from 340 to 350 but I will forever remember 440!). It was Pat Sharp’s – House of Fun 100. We had got to number 35 on the countdown and it was a-ha, Take On Me. My weekend could finally begin. Ryan picked me up a few minute later and I walked up to the top of my road to meet him. I noticed the headlights, he was driving a Punto. We headed down to Marlow and parked up in the Dean Street car park and walked down to The Slug & Lettuce. While I queued at the bar, Ryan tried to find Trevor but he was not here. He was in fact in the The Ship up the road because he and his friends were wearing trainers and would not be let in. He called me a little later and I explained we would come over in about twenty minutes once we had finished our drinks. It was good to catch up with Ryan, he had been several years, perhaps as much as seven since I had last had a proper chat with him. It was great to reminisce about the old days and some of the crazy things we used to get up to. I was glad to hear that he was still videoing most of the antis. I remember during the later days at college that he had got a video camera and had been recording loads of rubbish but did not think it would carry on for long but it did. He also still uses cassette tapes. I noticed a big stack of cassettes under the ashtray. I explained to him that it was 2008, time had long gone for the analogue audio medium. He begged to disagree.
We headed over to The Ship around half eleven and had to wait outside in a small queue before we could be let in. Ryan got the drinks in and then we went to find Trevor. He was at the back of the pub with his friends. He looked pretty much the same from when I had last seen him (September 2003) the day before I went back to Leicester to start my final year. He had a more facial hair and a “little less on top” (a quote from Mr. Buckle) I would like to add. It was great to just sit back and talk about school as well as college and the things we got up to. I wish I had been blogging then so I could now go back and read those posts but it was not to be like that. The memories are to be in the few photographs we took but mainly in our memories. Not exactly a bad thing. Ryan and I left around twenty to one. I got Steve’s number from Trev and arranged to have a mini reunion with Steve and Tim down in Bournemouth at the end of August. Steve got in touch via MSN today to confirm it all. Looks like I need to find a B&B or hotel in the seaside town for the 29th August.