Despite many years presenting breakfast radio I was never a fan of early mornings. This was emphasised on Tuesday during my journey to Belfast; a trip I make on business at least once a month.
So the alarm was set for 5am but I awoke at 4:50 and decided to get up then rather than dozing. I arrive therefore earlier than normal at the long stay car park. On a normal trip I park the car and the shuttle bus arrives. This week I’m waiting for 15 minutes before it shows. The weather was beautiful with a fine mist covering the fields so it wasn’t too unpleasant.
Grump number one comes when on the bus and holidaymakers board with what seemed like 20 cases but was really only 3. Instead of putting them on the luggage rack they stick them in the area in front of my seat which is reserved for wheelchair bound peeps. Needless to say the bus twists and turns and the “world’s heaviest case™” naturally falls onto my foot. Aye no problem.
Then fighting through hundreds of travellers, I battle into the terminal to check in. Normally EasyJet are really competent and quick. Today there’s a pair of giggling women in front of me at Speedy Boarding check in. The girl behind the desk is on the phone and the walkie talkie and I’m waiting for 5 minutes before she speaks to the giggling duo only to discover that they DON’T actually have Speedy Boarding and are in the wrong queue. Maybe they missed the 6 foot high signs at the entrance to the queue and the massive monitors above check in that make it clear. Grump number 2.
Upstairs to Security and there are more giggling women in front of me in Fastrack. Fair do’s; they’ve paid the supplement so no worries. BUT, see when you go through security, you’re not supposed to be carrying litres of hand cream, moisturiser and shampoo so when you’re asked to dump it don’t be surprised and cause a scene. Oh, and next time you travel don’t wear more jewellery than Mr T and get pissed when you have to remove it before going through the metal detector. Grump number 3.
Off to WH Smith to buy my paper. Decided against the self service machines as I don’t need to be entering my name, rank and serial number and asked if I want a big bar of chocolate or a Daily Telegraph. If I wanted a Telegraph I wouldn’t be buying the Scotsman. And does my belly look like I NEED a big bar of chocolate? Maybe best not to answer that one. So queued for the lady on the cash desk. When asked for my Boarding Card I asked if I could decline on the grounds that it’s absolute nonsense and I’m now a “conscientious objector”. “Whatever you want sir, have a nice day”. Grump number 4.
So now wound up I head towards The Gathering for my usual breakfast of Porridge and Coffee. In front are a selection of German tourists. I like German tourists. But not ones that can’t decide between a Caramel Log and a pack of Walker’s Shortbread and have a debate over the merits of each. They did everything but call Angela Merkel for advice. I wanted to suggest they “kaufen sie sie beide” but wasn’t sure of my German grammar so decided just to sigh loudly. The normally efficient Diane behind the counter then indulged me in a conversation as to how much water she should add to my instant porridge. Did I want it runny or thick. Just medium I responded. Is that runny or thick she asked? Just add some bloody water I opined silently before saying “whatever”. Meantime at the other end of the counter where you collect your drinks, a crowd of French tourists decided to set up a commune. It’s a collection point where you “collect” your drink before moving somewhere to consume them I wanted to say but instead just sighed loudly rather than cause an international incident. Grump number 5.
Things improved considerably when I arrived in Belfast. After collecting my luggage I made my way to the Hertz desk where naturally there was a queue. Rather than walk to the front to the section where the Hertz Gold Card customers are supposed to queue, I queued with the other folks. I then challenged my social conscience by arguing with myself that, as a regular traveller and a Hertz Gold Card holder, I should use that part of the queue. Whilst conversing with my inner self the very helpful lady behind the counter clocked my fizzog half way up the queue and shouted “ah Mr Wilson, I’ve been expecting you” and brandished my car key and documents and motioned me forward. Good work Hertz lady fella. The day was brightening up at last.