Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Things I'd like to be able to tell you ...

I'd like to be able to tell you all about the launch of David Park's new novel The Truth Commissioner at Belfast's Linen Hall Library tonight. But I can't.

Despite taking off on time this morning, bmi's flights in and out of Belfast have been badly affected by the pea-souper that settled over Belfast as most of you had your breakfast. (And it wasn't confined to bmi - other carriers were troubled too, as well as flights in and out of other northern-UK airports.)

Some flights due to take off during the day were cancelled, and others coming in from Heathrow diverted to Aldergrove Belfast International as Belfast City Airport has neither a long enough runway nor the required Cat III instrument landing system to get down in very poor visibility.

So tonight, the expected touchdown of BD90 at 19:00 (which would have got me to the event just fashionably late) ended up landing at 20:50, just 15 minutes shy of the last flight BD92 (the inbetween BD96 having been cancelled). And a good half hour after my wife had left the launch and headed home.

So I can't tell you what nice things Glenn Patterson said about David Park. Nor can John Self over at The Asylum tell you what I look like ... for once again, we didn't get to meet. But when I got home, we do seem to have the David Park back collection to show for the evening's entertainment - a most convenient way of me continuing not to buy any books during lent!

David Park's back catalogue

I'd also like to be able to tell you that I've managed to get a second key for my car. But I can't. Having arranged (twice) for the car's tax book to be faxed through to Agnews so that Mercedes would issue them with the proper key and barrel, I popped in on Monday morning, determined to sit it out while they programmed the new key.

It started well and I kept getting progress reports as I sat typing away drinking pots of tea and munching the exceedingly good pastries. The second key had been paired to the car. They'd requested the security codes from Mercedes. In the queue, waiting them to be returned.

There was even the dangle of a key ... but not for my car. Instead for a courtesy car, since after nearly four hours, the second key wasn't yet working. The first three of the six codes that are required had been accepted by the ZX80-powered computer system that seems to inhabit the inner bowels of the Smart. But the last three codes had crashed it, locking the workshop out.

So rather than continue to wait, it was recommended I take their car - a proper, red Smart fortwo - and go over to work and await a call. Sounded reasonably since I'd now drained both laptop batteries ... though I did wonder at the time why they didn't just drive me across or pop me in a taxi like they do with other people.

Burning up the Boucher Road in first gear, I worked out that the automatic gear switching wasn't on this model, and slowly retrained my left hand to change gear, even in the absence of a clutch pedal to stab.

And then the call came at half four. "The traffic around here isn't good ... You said you're away in England tomorrow? ... We're still working on the codes ... Might not be finished tonight ... Better bring our car back on Wednesday morning."

So I woke up this morning, with my overcoat, de-icer and windscreen scraper all safely locked in my car over at Boucher Road, and a heavy layer of ice covering needing to be removed at quarter to six so I could get around for the only bmi flight to leave Belfast City on time today.


John Self said...

It was a good evening. Park and Patterson both spoke well and amusingly - Park not so severe as his author photo suggests! - and the editor from Bloomsbury, Bill Swainson, looked exactly as one would expect a literary figure to, silver mane and rakish corduroy jacket and all.

I picked up The Big Snow and there was a good turnout and some fine music. Next stop the Booker longlist!

je suis said...

Alan, loving your blog as are others I've 'spoken' to in Belfast - Keep 'er lit; full tilt of the blade etc. Seems to be a popular topic on eateries around Belfast with my chums so if you can addition some more recommendations.. Cant beat Sarnies at the top of the former Donegal Arcade (OK, same street as Anne Summers) he cooks all his own meat at the weekend - amazing, amazing sarnies!

Gohir said...

Er..... Antrim International as it should be known.

Timothy Belmont said...

Sound as if you've had your fill of Boucher Crescent Alan :-)