Saturday, September 08, 2007

It’s been a frustrating week.

stock photo of bmi plane

Monday’s flight to Heathrow was delayed. Then there was a 45 minutes wait for luggage to arrive at baggage reclaim.

Late flight + late baggage = tube strike in effect (thank you RMT).

So with no reason to get the zippy Heathrow Express into Paddington, I caught the unaffected Piccadilly tube line. Pity the journey into Leicester Square took over an hour in a half as we kept stopping while striking drivers reversed their trains out of stations and back towards the depots.

Photo of front of London bus, via Flickr from Kate Pugh

Then there was the bus from St Pauls to Tottenham Court Road on Thursday night. After waiting ten minutes for a bus, it pulled in after three stops, the driver turned all the inside lights out, and tossed all the passengers out onto the street to await the next bus.

After ten minutes the next bus arrived. It’s driver seemed on edge, at one point racing the enormous bandy bus at high speed towards a stop before jamming on the brakes and nearly throwing standing passengers off their feet. One woman yelled at him as she got off the bus, and he seemed to huff, sitting motionless for a couple of minutes. When he did finally start up again, it wasn’t for long. Turning the lights out along with the passengers after a couple of stops. Thankfully we’d reached Tottenham Court Road.

Tube image, via evagram's Flickr

Friday’s journey back to Heathrow should have been easier. After all, no more tube strike. Except the Circle Line was suspended in both directions, I’d a couple of bags, and it was sweltering hot.

First mistake was getting into a taxi. Second mistake was not getting out sooner.

We hit roadworks, after roadworks, after roadworks. Like someone in a dusty planning office turned over their desk calendar, noticed that it was no longer August holiday season, and then ordered a blitz on London’s Victorian sewers. What’s normally a half hour trip to Paddington took closer to an hour.

In the middle of this outpouring of woe, I should introduce a moment of grace.

Being short of English banknotes, I’d asked the taxi driver at the beginning of the journey how much he through it would be “just in case you want to throw me out sooner rather than later”. Reassured that I had enough cash, I settled back. But then we hit the jams. When we finally pulled into Paddington he only charged me what he’d first estimated, saying that it was his first fare of the day, and the traffic was particularly bad!!

By the time I got the train out to Heathrow and arrived breathless at the check-in desk, it was three minutes after they’d stopped accepting hold baggage. Arghh. Bumped onto the next flight. And to add insult to injury, when I got through security and reached the bmi lounge, the reception desk were had a new boarding card for me, an upgrade to business on the earlier flight. Except that I wasn’t on that flight any longer, and they tore it up. Late and hungry!

Photo of broadband modem, via Flickr from rastrus

One other chapter in this tale of misery. Oh and in the process of getting a broadband line installed in a London office, I discovered that the modem would be shipped to the building. Except the security guys on the door have a strict policy of not signing for packages ... and I wouldn’t be in the building on the day it arrived. While the order helpdesk agreed to tell the dispatchers to ship the modem to Belfast where it could more easily be collected, they didn’t pass on the message before the modem was dispatched to the London address.

Another moment of grace.

Turns out that one of the security guys holidays in Bangor, Co. Down. Knows that cups of tea are more expensive in Holywood than Bangor! And for once, an Irish accent helped, and he took pity on me, agreeing to sign for the package just this once as long as I collected it before he went off shift.

Of course, I now have two modems ... one in London, and the Belfast one arrived today too! Now just to see if the line is installed and activated on Monday morning.

(Thanks to evagram, Kate Pugh and rastrus for their Flickr photos.)

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