Well that was a lot less painless than I thought it would be. I was expecting to be thrown to the Lions yesterday but everything actually went quite well.
Left the offie about 3pm on Wednesday to catch the 5pm flight. I was a bit worried that as I dont really know Steven that well but that I do know we’re both quite quiet it would be a long trip but we bumped into Willie Hunter from work in the lounge and everyone seemed to liven up. The flight was amazingly only 5 minutes late which is a first I think but despite free drinks and munchies in the lounge the meal on the flight wasnt that great. Beef in oyster sauce promised a lot but erally failed to deliver. 2/10 purely for the effort.
After the trip on the Paddington express we jumped down to the tube to catch the central line alnog to Victoria with the intent on hitting the pub for the Chelsea v Liverpool game…but we didnt account for major delays on 80% of the lines. Finally got a train only for it to wait for ever at each station it stopped at until we hit Gloucester Road (I think) where about 300 drunken partying Liverpool fans tried to get on the train in an effort to get to the match. It was about 7pm at this point and they were still miles from the ground singin, shouting and playing drums on the side/roof/doors of the train. This was until one of them realised it was the wrong train and they all bolted out the door leaving only a manky fez on the floor as proof that they were there.
Finally made it to the hotel…and what a hotel. The “Rubens at the Palace” to give it the full name the staff used. The room was smallish but comfortable but it was literally 100m from the office and about 250m from Buckingham Palace. Went for a wee wander to stretch my legs with my camera stopping outside the palace to phone Vonnie. I’d only been out of Scotland a few hours and I missed her. Took a few photos of the sights and then wandered to get something to eat with the intent of just heading back to the hotel for an early night.
On the way back from Burger King though Steven spied me wandering past the pub and dragged me in for the second half of the football. Ended up chatting to a drunken Chelsea fan who’d sold his tickets for ?600 outside the ground and was busy trying to drink it all. Bought me a pint so I cant complain After an entertaining game (or was it the pub that wa entertaining rather than the game?) I headed back to the hotel to phone Vonnie again as I’d cut short the first phonecall when my stomach started eating my from the inside I was that hungry with the intent to have a nightcap in the hotel bar with my complimentary drink voucher (just as well I had that as at ?4 a pint or ?8 a double vodka and coke I wouldnt be buying anything.) I’d wangled an extra voucher though so two pints later I was very sleepy and headed off to bed.
Thursday morning brought me back down to ground as I didnt sleep very well and being slightly hungover I had to head to the main office to print off a few bits I’d forgotten and thenhead round to the satellite office at the far end of Victoria Street. There were loads of armed police about and we thought it was to do with the Rail office as there was about 8 of them grouped around it but it was jus the usual armed presence near westminster. Most of them only had a pistol so the guys with the MP5′s really stood out and each and everyone was kitted out differently but all to the same kind of standard ie surefire flash handgrip, plain iron sites, mag clamped double mags etc. Except for this one guy that what I thought was a russian holosight atached to the top rail. After a second pass I realised it was just a fancy looking reflex sight with a little extra paddign and armour on the casing. Steven looked at me ratehr oddly when I tried to explain this…cant blame him really
The time with the Commission for Africa was busy but actually went really well. Bob Geldoff was supposedly in for a meeting with the head guy but we never got to see him never mind meet him. Got a few things to chase up today at work but other than that I think most people came away happy…except for the girl whos network cable I nicked so we could use the laptop upstairs
The trip home was doomed from the start. We’d managed to finish on time in the office and without even running we caught both the tube and the express without having to wait more than a minute at each station. When we got to Heathrow we were hit with an hour delay because some twat ran a tug into the front wheel of the plane and bent it so we had to wait for a replacement to arrive
It did mean I witnessed probably the weirdest and most amazing sunset I think I’ll ever see though. Basically there was a low blanket of cloud totally blocking the sun from below. From above this looked like your a-typical red sky at night sunset with low level clouds under the sun rather than actual ground. But then there was another blanket of cloud a couple of hundred feet up again which we climbed through blocking out below again but this tme you couldnt see the sun at all…just the sort of light afterglow you get after the suns went below the horizon. And then the clouds slowly started to break up and it looked like the world below was on fire. The colours were that intense it was unbelievable. I think the closest you could come would be to describe it like a magma flow from a volcano with the solid crust breaking up as it moved and letting the bright orange of the molten magma through. Made it back to Vonnie’s flat after the plane crew trying to kill me with Moroccan Chicken with cous cous and was so glad to be back.
Today is payday and the last day of the working week. Can it get much better than this?