It’s not a secret that I’ve recently broken up with my girlfriend for reasons I will refrain from posting on my blog (just in case she reads this and decides to hunt me down to cut off certain body parts with blunt scissors). It’s also not a secret I like a good night out drinking (lots), dancing (badly) and generally Getting Up To No Good (a phrase my gran uses to speculate on what I’ve been doing whenever I give vague answers).
So I decided, totally egged on by others who shall remain nameless, that a lads’ night out was well in order to perk myself up, and that quickly turned into a lads’ weekend away, and that quickly turned into a lads’ weekend abroad, and so we booked a 2-night holiday in Barcelona.
Now, I’m the type of guy who likes his own bed. I’m also the type of guy who puts off packing to the last minute and so, with a flight from Heathrow booked for 11.40am, I found myself at my flat in Manchester at 4.30am throwing any clean clothes I could find, plus any toiletries I had under 100ml, into my hand luggage bag (I’m also the type of guy who likes to travel light, as well as the type of guy likes to overuse the phrase ‘I’m the type of guy who…’), searching frantically for my passport (checking all 700 “safe” places my ex used to place/hide things) and jumping into the car, determined to make the journey in less than 4 hours. It was ridiculous-o’ clock, after all!
Disaster Number 1: The Breakdown
Now some may say I was at fault for this episode by not being better prepared and staying in London the night before our flight, but I like to argue that it was my incredible and thorough planning and preparation that helped avoid this disaster.
Yes, my car broke down on the M1, and I wouldn’t have hit Absolute Panic mode if I’d driven down the day before and experienced the same problem, but I had, earlier in the year, made the massive effort to research breakdown services and had, subsequently, taken out a national recovery policy with the AA.
Because of my unfaultable foresight and efforts to do this, I actually – believe it or not – made it to London (albeit it towed by an AA recovery vehicle) at the time I was aiming for – a comfortable time before my flight. To be fair, I can’t fault the AA. The guy who came out, one of those Real Men types who just look at things and they’re fixed, was really friendly, and I felt instantly reassured that my car was in good hands, allowing me to feel that perhaps all hope wasn’t completely lost at all.
It was the car’s cam belt that had gone and, while this is a right royal pain to have fixed as it’s a big job and not exactly cheap, and the AA couldn’t fix it roadside, they towed me to a recommended garage in London near the airport to have it fixed while I was away.
And I’m not being funny but I got all a pretty good service from them for next to nothing! Definitely pays to research these things.
Disaster 2: The Gate Closing
Perhaps by itself this isn’t a major deal, but within the context of Disaster 1 and 3 it helps to sum up my weekend. I’d made it to the airport (thanks, AA!) on time, miraculously, met up with the other lads and sat down for a pint (or 2) in one of those insanely expensive airport bars. Next thing I knew, I’m hearing my name, and the name of my associates, called over the tannoy for the final boarding of our flight.
How 4 grown men of reasonable intelligence levels (in 3 out for 4 cases, at least) allow that to happen?!
We Usian Bolted it to the gate and just, and I mean just, made it.
Disaster 3: Hello, Spanish Airport Prison
Made it on to the plane – just. Made it off the plane with no problems.
Did not make it through passport control with such luck.
My passport was missing – stolen, it seems now looking back, because I’d had it to board the plane and, after the flight attendants had checked the plane looking for it, it wasn’t there. Stolen and sold on to the Black Market, no doubt.
So what happens in this situation? You certainly can’t blag your way into Barcelona with wit and a smile, I can promise you that. They put your backside back on a plane to your home country and, in my case, that wasn’t an option until an afternoon flight the next day.
So, where do you stay for that time period? I hear you ask. Certainly not the Hilton, I can guarantee that. Try a dodgy, filthy cell at the airport. No phone, no internet access, no TV. No-one to talk to, until they threw a swearing Scotsman in with me that evening, and then an Eastern-European drugs-mule, sweating and shivering, in during the early hours of the morning. I asked for a pen and paper, they bought me paper but no pen. I asked for a coffee and they bought me hot water.
I don’t think I can write too much more about this wonderful experience as it will ruin my opportunity for writing my Prison Diaries in the future.
Needless-to-say, I never made it to Barcelona that weekend, but I did make it home, alive and unmolested, and we do have another lads’ weekend booked for 2 weeks’ time. Newcastle this time – playing it a little safer.