I love flying. I love all of it from the drive to the airport, the parking up and getting the bus to the terminal, the checking in and even the security checks. I love the moody looks on the faces of the security people’s faces when I present my passport photo which only has a passing resemblance to me.I love taking my belt off and putting it in a tray for X-ray and then having to stand arms out being patted down trying not to look nervous while gravity does its best to make my trousers fall down.But with the exception of the flight itself the best bit is just after security, the bit where my holiday really begins and it always reminds me of the film ‘Stargate’. In the film a giant round portal is discovered and by moving the funny symbols and setting a few co ordinates any destination in the known universe can be reached. Well to me airside is just like this. Giant notice boards display destinations of our known world with instructions of what time to go to the various gates where the pilots will type in coordinates to get us to our own destination. Every 5 minutes I look up at the departure board hoping my gate number will be announced but also look up longingly at the list of other locations wondering if I’ll ever get the chance to go there too: Hong Kong, Sydney, Cape town,Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro. And then feeling sorry for the people who rush to their gate hoping not to be seen when their flight to somewhere really dull is called.This really is a special place, a place where adventure begins, a place where in just a few hours flying time anywhere in the world can be reached and a place where virtually everyone is excited. So with that thought in mind and the moment being well and truly savoured its off to the pub for a pre flight pint and a massively overpriced fry up.
For only the second time ever this was going to be night flight and back then on the way back from New York I found it to be less enjoyable than a migraine. I’m sure that from the comfort of first or even business class this kind of thing is no problem as you can simply lay down and sleep through it but in cattle class at the back of the plane it’s a bit less civilised. I’ve always been led to believe that Virgin Atlantic had a class leading amount of leg room but it does have to be said that on this occasion this seems to be just a myth as I found myself trying to eat and sleep in an area so small that if I’d have been a sheep the RSPCA would have been getting involved and taking Mr.Branson to court.Adding to the discomfort though was the preflight meal which my digestive system was very busy ( and successfully )turning into gas. So much gas in fact that in a single visit to the toilet I produced more gas in a 5 second burst than the north sea has given up in the last 2 years. By far and away the only part of a night flight that I enjoy is looking out of the window as another city goes by all lit up and stretching out as far as the eye can see. Looking out over London soon after take off is a really spectacular sight. After eating the ‘meal’ and selecting ‘Ted’ as the inflight movie its time to sit back and while away the hours until landing but not before checking out the interactive map showing the route to our destination followed by me questioning whether it’s the best or even quickest way.It wasn’t. He should have spoken to me first, I reckon if he’d have gone over France and not Belgium he could have saved us 20 minutes at least.
So after landing it’s the 5 mile walk from the plane to passport control then onto the male dominated world of baggage reclaim. Men and women revert to time honoured traditional stereotypes at this point with the women going off in search of the squeakiest trolley available while the men jostle for position around the carousel. Watching this from a distance cracks me up as looking at the way men push in and try to get as close to the bit where the luggage comes out from you’d think they were queuing up for 3 extra inches of penis rather than a bag containing a few t shirts and pants. I’ve got this much more sussed out than anyone else though as the way to do it and to look as cool as possible, is as follows:
1) before packing make a mental note of what your cases look like.
2) stand from a distance and wait until your case becomes visable.
3) when you spot your own bag swoop,like a heron does to catch a fish,pluck from it from the belt and return to trolley. Repeat until all bags have been recovered.Simple really.
So with the airport and a 15 hour door to door journey behind us we finally arrive at our destination, the palace that is the Hilton rak al Khamiah and we’re delighted to find that our room is ready despite it only being 10am. His and hers holiday stereotypes come into place here too which sees us both checkout the view from the balcony followed by Cally performing the woman’s role of checking out the bathroom and reporting back on what its like and me performing the mans role of locating the minibar and tv remote.After i’ve checked the bathroom for myself and cracked the compulsory holiday joke about the bidet, it’s time to jointly check out the firmness of the pillows and bed which leads directly to the first dispute of the holiday. Despite the bed being big enough to accommodate a group booking by the Tunbridge Wells swingers association,the good people of the Hilton group decide 5 pillows is the correct number for 2 people and one of has to decide who is going to have the least. After a quick ‘debate’ it turns out that person is me because I’m the “fattest and will take up more bed”. I conceded at this moment due to two reasons, the first being that it was true and the second being that my eyes were beginning bleed given that I had beaten my previous personal best of being awake and hadn’t had a wink of sleep in nearly 26 hours. However before I can get to sleep we are expected to attend the reps meeting where amongst other things he tells us what the procedure for checking out is and allows us to ask him some questions. If only we had been allowed to confer as a group beforehand as the best our group could come up with was ” can you drink the tap water” and ” what time does the 10am shuttle leave for the Dubai” I personally wanted to ask him what he thought was the best strategy for peace in Israel or at the very worst whether he thought England played better with a straight forward 4-4-2 or if he thought we’d be better off using a 4-3-3 and deploying wing backs. At that point I went to bed.
So the first full day of holiday dawned and it had been decided that it was to be a day of lounging around the pool and beach, neither of which are my natural habitat but as the point of this holiday was to relax and chill out I was more than up for it and once again the male and female roles to come into play. It is the mans roll to fetch and carry the beach bag and towels while it is the woman’s roll to decide which sun bed would be the best one for burning/tanning on. Now to me all of the sun beds seem to do the same job but apparently the selection process needs to include considerations for an exact geometrical angle to the sun and walking distance to the waters edge. Several possible locations are considered before she confirms that the “right” one is located and once thats happened the mans job is to erect the parasol whilst displaying the minimum amount of effort possible. The best possible outcome to this is that a pool attendant notices and comes over to assist but on this occasion he is far more interested in assisting two large breasted German women than one large breasted Englishman so this one is down to me but thankfully it goes up easier than an untethered helium balloon and I can now sit back and relax knowing my job here is done and all that remains to be done is chose a play list from my iPad plug in my ears and lay back and do what I’ve come here to do: Bugger all.