The following article was written over three days in the departures hall, past security in departures and back at my parents.
The British love the weather, especially when we get a chance to complain about it. And in fairness to us Brits we do actually get ‘weather’.
By this I mean a variation – snow, rain, wind, sun – and that’s just one Thursday in October.
But the fun, friendly ribbing we give the weather falls completely by the wayside when it turns nasty.
When, after a week away on the DAY you’re due to fly home you wake up in the morning to the worst snowfall in 30 years.
When you wake up, get dressed, get the cases ready to go, and leave the house to 10cm of snow – I sank in the stuff.
We complain about the rain – flooding, damage etc. We complain about the heat – burning, sunstroke etc.
But the one thing that makes the British wake up and complain the most is the white stuff that causes a whole national transportation system to roll over and scream ‘leave me alone, I’m going back to bed’.
Snow is a curse to the British – anyone planning to go anyway on a day that heavy snowfall is predicted would stand a better chance of recontruction a scale model of the Eiffel Tower out of mechano – unless James May beat you to it.
And that brings us on to the night in the Departures Hall – boarding passes in hand but unable to go through security or check baggage.
We got to Gatwick Airport on 6 January for our flight to England at 10am – it was touch and go whether we would make it or not in the first place.
We couldn’t get a large cab out that would take us all the way to the airport so we needed to a smaller one, and my dad to take us to the train station;
This wouldn’t normally be an issue but when you’re treking out in 10cm of snow it becomes a little bit more difficult.
When we finally get to the airports South Terminal we need to make our way to the North Terminal with five bags, a pushchair and three kids by shuttle bus.
Then we find out our flights been cancelled – the queuing begins.
I got my wife, the kids and the bags all sorted on one of the VERY few seats left and went up stairs to wait inline at the British Airways ticket desk to change our flight for hte next available one.
That, unfortunately wasn’t until the next morning at 8.30am but I didn’t find that out until I’d been standing in a line for 7 and a half hours.
That wasn’t a mistype – I said to my wife “I’ll go and queue up and should be back in a couple of hours” thinking I was exaggerating - I wasn’t.
I waited in that line for just over seven and a half hours – and that was just to re-book my cancelled flight for one the next morning.
A night, a horrible night in the airport later and we finally get through to departures at 7.00 only to find further delays.
I have a feeling this was caused in part by backlogs from a day without any planes leaving, in part because there is still heavy snow on the ground and in a very big part because Jersey Airport was closed until 9am.
And those damn safety announcements – it is 10pm, there are hardly any people travelling tonight and hundreds sleeping in the airport.
Yet they still feel the need to put out LOUD safety announcements about the excalators every ten minutes.
They give you just enough time to start drifting off and then a mans voice booms over the tannoy about not taking suitcases up the bloody escalator.
With every flight we booked on to being cancelled and only able to get on the waiting list for the final flight likely to leave for Jersey – we decided go back to my parents.
Not wanting to face yet another night at Gatwick airport we braved the snow and got a train back to St Albans.
Then there was the hunt for a big enough Taxi prepared to take us all and to take on the heavy snow.
Still, you don’t realise how wonderful a comfortable bed is until you get to lie down in it and fall asleep.
The one thing I will say – despite all the queueing, announcements and delays – all credit to BA staff for being considerate, smiling and unbelievably helpful.
And just one final rant – couldn’t Gatwick at least get ONE of the five wifi providers to make it free for the day where hundreds were trapped overnight?
And, isn’t it about time airports started increasing the number of plug sockets? I’m sat on a freezing cold floor writing this plugged into a slightly dodgy looking socket in a pillar with another person.
EVERY available socket is now full in the North Terminal – how about offering a row of them under seats or something?
In fact here’s an idea – how about a geek zone – I’ll pay you £5 an hour to give me a comfortable seating area, a couple of plug sockets (who only has one device to charge up) and high speed wifi.
As I’m sure you’ve guessed from the many, many, MANY posts on the subject – I’m something of a fan of Top Gear.
So with that in mind I’ve tried my best to avoid doing the obvious and posting Top Gear episodes as my iPlayer pick – I usually rate an episode somewhere between eight and ten every week – so it would be easy for me to choose it.
But it would be to pointlessly obvious, you know I like Top Gear, you know where the iPlayer is so it sort of acts as a default Pick without me actually saying it.
However, all that said and done – I am picking Top Gear this week. There are a few reasons for it, one of which is the openly political – stop nannying us rant – straight after a scene involving a hot day, no air con and three middle aged men in a sealed up car. See it for your self HERE.
But also because it is possibly one of the funniest episodes of Top Gear in the last few years. I spent the whole 55 minutes clutching my stomach in pain from laughing so much.
The three brilliantly childish presenters confront the credit crunch, in a way only Top Gear could/would by finding three ‘sensibly priced small cars’ and showing them off to bankers – they then paint them, add loud speakers and drive around Parliament Square.
Plus, James meets American stunt driving legend Ken Block, Jeremy tests the mildly insane Mercedes SL Black on the track, and Michael McIntyre is the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car.
As a bonus here is a video of Ken Block outside of Top Gear.
When I said Top Gear was a default pick of the week – to be honest – that’s true. My real pick of the week was supposed to be posted last week and was a radio pick. But I was stuck in Bristol and left it to late – the first part expires today.
But just in case you want to look it up on your favourite download service of choice – it was called Voyage and was an alternative history story on the tale of the American Space Programme.
I will say in my defense that I didn’t write the lyrics, I’m not singing on it and was asked at very short notice to perform and write the music.
If I had my way I would have recorded the music track first, then recorded the two people (a Canadian and an Aussie) singing the words.
This would then give me the freedom to mix it properly and put together a properly balanced jingle.
I should probably also have played the music a key higher as well – but as you can barely hear the guitar – I don’t think that really makes much difference.
And if anybody is interested the trail is for a special being repeated this Easter on BBC Radio Jersey that was originally recorded for Commonwealth Day that saw an Aussie and a Canadian (both BBC Jersey journalists) argue for their own part of the Commonwealth.
What do you think?
Also I’m interested in improving my voice over skills so if anyone wants a good quality recording for their podcast give me a shout and I’ll do it for you – within reason based on legnth and copy.
A new element is discovered in Jersey – this is something incredibly rare and 1mg of it has the power to both destroy a planet and power a whole country forever – assuming it’s mixed properly.
But it turns out after much searching, debate, discussion and bartering that Jersey is the only place in our solar system it can be found.
So France who believe they have a medieval claim to the island, China who need the power, England who believe they own the island through the Crown and Imperial Stormtroopers (told you it was weird) decided to invade.
This then turns the tiny island that’s just 9 miles by 5 into an international battle ground.
In my dream I was leader a resistance movement of people that were living in the island before the element was discovered, I work with a team to convert the Puddle Ducks (google Puddle Duck Jersey) into escape ships that can take hundreds to mainland UK to escape the fighting in Jersey.
All the while dodging the Stormtroopers, Chineese forces and French soldiers eating cheese (don’t ask).
One scene saw me walking down towards Victoria Avenue as a squadron of Stormtroopers marched along the Avenue – I avoided them by joining a marching band who – for some reason where in fancy dress and hiding between them.
All the while I have an irritating buzzing feeling in my left shoulder.
That’s when I woke up to find my 14 month old baby poking me in the shoulder.
However I will be going around the island all day taking photos, giving encouragement and generally making a pest of myself.
I was hoping to have some funny ‘local’ video to put on the BBCJersey website as part of my Stand Up For Jersey idea – but user interactivity in that way wasn’t never going to work.
Basically the idea was to encourage people to submit their jokes about Jersey, funny stories from the island and hilarious situations that local comedian Charlie Daze could then turn into a stand-up routine.
This routine would then be performed in front of a camera for bbc.co.uk/jersey and live on BBC Radio Jersey on Red Nose Day – alas the gods of caution put rain to that parade.
A friend asked me how I would rank the places and things that impact my identity the other day.
The concept behind it was to rank the things that make me who I am in order – starting with national identity and then gradually working down the list.
So the first thing on the list for me, as a British citizen, would be … well British but the concept then allows for anything to be put in the order of identity after that.
So it could be Geek, Musician, Drummer or even English, Magician or Lunatic. I’ve personally gone for geek as, in terms of personality I think of myself as a geek before I think of myself as English (even though I was born in England and spent the first 18 years of my life there).
Anyway, I’ve been thinking long and hard about it and this is the list I’ve been able to come up with so far – it may change depending on my mood.
I don’t actually factor European in there at all – anywhere – mainly because (and don’t get me wrong I like the European idea) I don’t feel European or any connection with the continental idea of Europe.
When I think of Europe I get all stereotypical and imagine old French philosophers sitting at a cafe smoking and debating the world. I’ve never lived in France and only visited once and I’ve visited the rest of Europe (with the exception of Portugal) even less.
So my knowledge, understanding and relationship to Europe is limit to two week holidays in Portugal, having a cousin from Germany and a day trip to France in Primary School.
Anyway – I did toy with the idea of showing this list in other ways but in the end a good old fashioned list was the best way of displaying a few items.
What defines you? My wife suggested that I didn’t need to make a list as the tag cloud pretty much defines me already, that what I wrote about on my blog was a measure of who I am already – but to me that’s more a measure of what I like than who I am.
Here is the tag cloud as of now:
apple Arts audio BBC BBC iPlayer blog blogging british channel4 comedy Design download Entertainment facebook google interface internet iplayer ipod itunes itv James May Jeremy Clarkson jeremyclarkson jersey Last.fm Media mobile Music newmedia News Podcast Radio stig Technology Television top gear topgear torchwood tv UK United Kingdom Video writing youtube
I don’t take much time off work if I can help it – life at work is a lot easier than life at home with three children. However I do have three children and a much put upon wife who needs a break every so often. Read More