I blog when I go abroad, and occasionally when I do stuff in the UK too. There's a nicer interface over here.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

I'm going slightly MAD

I'm starting this at 8am on a Saturday. I've had a two course breakfast and a few liquids, and am staring at Heathrow's runway/apron, wondering why I'm doing this. But actually I've done the arithmetic and I know full well why. But that doesn't mean I'm not tempted to sack it off and go home right now...

Been in a shitty mood since Thursday evening, when it felt very much like a literal switch flicked in my head. I suppose it was coming: I've been unable to talk myself into running for a number of weeks now, and regularly falling off the bad food wagon, both of which are bad signs. On the flipside, I felt as though I've been largely happy with life and enjoying work - in fact, the last few weeks have been my most productive and enjoyable for probably 6 years or so. And after another pretty stellar day on Thursday I really wanted a pint and some company.  I was in a great mood and didn't want the day to finish. And that's why it all went wrong.

I really really didn't just want to go home and sit alone on my sofa again, but there seemed like no other option. The office drinking culture has largely dried up since we moved buildings, and the one person I could think of to grab a midweek beer with was already home by 6pm (it's probably a really bad sign, and offensive to some of my friends, that I only considered one person, but even so, my circle of midweek drinking partners is distressingly small and irregular these days). So instead of going home I worked late, for the fourth day on the spin being first in last out, and when I left I thought, fuck it, I want a pint I'll have a pint. Went to my favourite pub in the world and...sat drinking alone, wishing very much that I wasn't drinking alone.

For around 18 months now I've been very good at not being lonely. I used to spend significant amounts of time and emotional energy wishing I wasn't single, or if in a relationship that I was able to spend every moment with my partner, so that they could distract me from (or even cure) my misery. I wanted a woman to fix my head, which is a thoroughly unreasonable ask. But once I learnt how that's actually my responsibility, I took it and largely did it. So far so good. The problem on Thursday was the opposite. I was in a great mood, wanting to share that, to be happy hyper fun Darren, but I had no choice but to be alone and that pissed me off so fucking much that I got very depressed very quickly. Tried to gee myself up by force anticipating the weekend's flying, only to ruminate on how I wished I wasn't doing that solo either, or at least that the miles I earn weren't just going to spent on yet more time alone (albeit in fancier cabins with better drinks). I did get a bit lost in the massive drama unfolding as a lass spent the best part of an hour ranting about the sexist and racist treatment she'd got at work, while her two companions first failed to comfort her, and then made her feel much much worse such that she was in tears when they all left. Sigh. And at least I could congratulate myself for not going on the fruit machine... only I then spunked £40 in one at the Beer House. So I sat down thinking about the number 40 before finally succumbing to desperation and posting an attention seeking status on Facebook loosely dressed up as an announcement for my adoring audience. Truth is my primary audience for my blog is me - though I do get a very big ego kick out of the fact that a bunch of people are keeping tabs on and enjoying (not) doing this stuff vicariously, I'd put good money on 90% of my hits coming from me. But on Thursday I needed that kick so tried to force it.

It worked, of course. I got some nice public comments and more private ones, in particular a long chat with my only other mileage-running friend in the world (who I'd go on runs with if we didn't live 6000 miles apart), and a brief conversation at 5am with someone I'd not spoken to for way too long - key quote: "just talking to you makes me think about and crave Guinness". So, thanks for taking the bait and all the kind words, folks. Much appreciated. :)

Anyway, enough about my depression.

Friday was another decent day at work. I don't seem to have indecent ones. Sadly no table tennis, but this also means no-one broke their nose which I suppose is a good thing. I left early, having drawn a line in the sand and sent out requests for 6 code reviews to be done in my Monday absence. I wanted to get away early anyway because I was staying in a hotel near Heathrow on Friday night. The Surbiton festival is on this weekend (if that's not reason enough to travel 5300 miles away I don't know what is) and road closures were scheduled to start at some ungodly hour on Saturday, which would make getting to the airport in the morning even more unpleasant than normal. And my flight is at 0910, meaning I really wanted to be there for 7am. I figured £65 for the convenience of being close, and getting probably 2 hours more sleep, was a good deal.

Went home first and had terrible food, while getting very fucking angry at broadband being so slow it wouldn't stream WWE NXT. Wooj was in no mood for a Friday pint so I packed up and fucked off for the bus. At Kingston a man was kneeling on the pavement while smoking and he subsequently sat next to me on the bus, smelling like tobacco and kippers. Meanwhile my mood led me to have a Stanhope-esque rant about charity fundraising elsewhere. If you want me to give money to a cause you like, just ask, OK? The idea of giving money to fight cancer only if you suffer through October without any booze doesn't sit right with me.

On the bus I was obsessively checking the details about Saturday's 3 flights. The London to Johannesburg leg was showing as delayed by 20 minutes, which was great news as that meant lounge time and free sauce. My seats were showing as exit rows, which is also great news but I'm not sure I believe it. I don't actually know what's going on with flights 2 and 3 - since booking them last November I've had 3 different reference numbers (PNRs) and each of them serves a slightly different purpose. Using one of them, I could pick seats on 7 of the 8 flights in the itinerary; on another, I could pick seats on the other flight. The BA site would let me pick some seats but, if I engaged in some jiggery pokery, I could convince the Qatar Airways site (no, I'm not flying Qatar airways) to let me pick exit rows. Except that sometimes wouldn't stick, and I'd ended up with three different seat assignments depending on where I looked.

What's more, online check in had been very wonky. BA had let me check in for the morning flight, because it's booked with a BA code despite being operated by Iberia. Iberia had seemingly let me check in for the afternoon and evening flight, and even sent me boarding passes, except one of them was full of question marks and when I requested a reissue as QR codes, I got two for the same flight. Lastly, a few hours after this half-assed check in, I got a notification that my seats had changed to exit rows but not the ones I'd picked. I mean I really have no idea what's going on now. Why can't I just leave it alone?

I reached Hatton Cross with a dying phone telling me the delay to BA55 has disappeared, and the last More or Less of the series finishing in my ears.  My headphones are a mess, the cable is all kinds of fucked and it feels like they could break at any moment. I've taken no care of them at all, yet this pair has lasted longer than each of my last 5 pairs which I've cared for assiduously. Whatever.

The Jurys Inn at Hatton Cross is a very short, easy, and flat walk along one straight road. There are numerous reviews on Hotels.com complaining about the transport - expensive cabs to the terminals, no cabs from the tube to the hotel, buses to terminals infrequent, etc etc. I repeat: very short, easy, flat walk along one straight road from a tube station where the price of getting to any of the terminals is exactly zero pounds and zero pence sterling. I have no idea why people leave such bizarre reviews.

Perhaps the price is confusing. Because after checking in - next to a party of 35, and into "one of our refurbished rooms", dontcha know - I went to the bar and witnessed countless people struggling with sterling currency. On their last night in England before flying home. How had they coped during their time here? Half of them didn't know the value of the coins in their pockets and needed lots of help paying. I also heard numerous requests for "a medium Stella please" and saw people try and tip the barmen. Seriously, which part of the UK have these people been to? Who taught you to buy a medium beer? I can't think of anywhere in the world I've been which has medium beers except maybe oktoberfest.

On my third pint, I shouted at the barman and interrupted him taking someone else's order. I hadn't said much out loud for a few hours and had kinda forgotten how to regulate my volume, plus he'd just short changed me by a fiver, the twat. The Guinness was nice, but watered down. I idly mused at the feasibility of taking the frankly obscene amount of credit available in my wallet, stealing it all, and fucking off permanently.

The bar was heaving for hours, until it very suddenly wasn't. Despite being open until 1am, at about 11:20pm EVERYONE left, and the new comparative silence was pierced by some staggeringly excitable football commentary on a TV at the far end of the bar. And then it was beyond midnight, time for bed.

Startled into life by my 0620 alarm, I almost literally jumped out of bed. Showered, dressed and outside by 0637, tube station timed perfectly and a fairly efficient security regime: hey presto, by 0710 I was sat in the BA lounge with a plate full of bacon baguettes and omelette muffins, accompanied by sundry liquids. Surprisingly, considering my laissez faire attitude to societal norms once airside, I stayed dry. In fact, I chose to get some Headspace (dotcom) because my mood was still pretty low. These meditations really are not well suited to being done in public but it wasn't a total waste and I did feel a bit more relaxed afterwards.

And that's where we came in. I may have been relaxed, but still wasn't fully behind the whole thing, I hadn't had that wave of "this, this is what I want to be doing most of all right now" which being in an airport normally causes. But a few more sugary goods and a bit of typing made me feel better yet, and a further inexplicable boost came from the gate being A1. Top of the heap.

En route to the gate I was waylaid by a man in his inflatable "I'm Scottish!" outfit and his kilted companions. Honestly I don't know whether I'm disappointed or glad that they're not going to Madrid, but Munich. Fast track boarding was hidden away and I sauntered on fairly late, being hindered on the way to my seat by a man who deliberately went 4 rows further back to dump his bag before retreating to his seat. I took the apparently bizarre decision to place my own bag in the locker directly above my seat, which was easy to find because the numbers and letters on this plane are on display and in order. Like on every plane ever. But despite the entire lack of confusing layout and deviation from sense and order, from my seat I watched tens of people stare blankly at the the numbers and letters, then ask the cabin crew questions like "where is row 23?", "where is row 27?". The rows are clearly and sequentially labelled, without gaps. There is no mystery. So what gives?

My exit row smugness dissipates. Row 22 on this plane is next to a crew jump seat and has less legroom than the regular rows. Bah. And being Iberia, there's no free scran on this plane. I don't have any euros to buy from the trolley, so I guess beer can wait until the Madrid wetherspoons lounge - assuming I'm allowed in, that is. The Schengen situation at MAD is a confusing mess, so I'm told, and there is fun to be had when I land. But first, I'm going to watch the Sopranos.


Unknown said...

I've just come back from Oktoberfest and there most assuredly have not been any "medium" beers there. Just full-on 1 liter Maß for everyone.

auswomble said...

I got nothing for the first part bro. It's in us both. As an aside, the 'please prove you're not a robot' thing wants me to type 2001. Which, you know, HAL.