Mr Grumpy....27th February, 2020
I’m sitting in Edinburgh airport with time to kill as the plane has been delayed.
Looking out of the window in Costa, I’m not sure if the place actually qualifies as an “airport”: it’s more like a large car park with fencing round it, an old fire engine from Trumpton and what looks like an old ice cream van driving up and down frightening off birds (he’s probably got the window down and blasting out For Those About To Rock by AC/DC).
As I reported last week, the plane is powered by elastic bands, a tumble drier and the captain’s wind power and I feel like we’re about to recreate the Munich air disaster; I hope I’ve been good enough in my life to date for God to select me as a survivor.
On the basis I didn’t steal anything from the mini-bar in my hotel and denied all knowledge when checking out, I think I qualify, and although I did have rude thoughts about the bathroom — wall-to-wall mirrors — I did brush my teeth for the full allocated time, indicated by a variety of pulses and pauses.
Scotland is a funny place. It reminds me of the Lake District with less hills (and charm) but more rain. And a bit like Ireland, in that the residents seem to struggle with the Queen’s English.
I found myself saying: “Pardon?” quite a lot. Of course, my diction is akin to that of Prince Charles, so the problem was all theirs.
They should either fully embrace the English language and reject local terminology and accents or invent their own, and become another country, which is what Nessie Sturgeon wants … but they also have to pay for a big wall, their own army and telly system (they can’t have the BBC) and I’d ban them importing Hollands pies and oatcakes from Stoke.
My work colleague made the almost fatal mistake in selecting “the full English breakfast” from the menu and, before I could correct him, the rather red-faced lady (clearly bred from farming stock) stood back and recoiled in horror.
“You mean the full SCOTTISH breakfast, sir!!” as if he’d said: “My dear lady, you have a face my dog wouldn’t lick and the body odour of a muddy piglet.”
I apologised on his behalf and hoped both she and the cook wouldn’t secretly spit into the baked beans and wipe the bacon along the inside of the toilet bowl before serving them with a wry smile.
I’d booked a “superior suite” at what was more a pub than hotel. Upon checking out, I resisted the temptation to respond to the usual question of “Was everything ok with your stay?” with total honesty, and enter into a prolonged discussion about the difference between a “suite” and a slightly larger than normal bedroom.
On the basis that I detected she would not be able to differentiate between humour, sarcasm and genuine feedback — and I feared my car would be crushed by her husband’s tractor — I just handed over the princely sum of £70 (cash, no cards!) and smiled.
To be fair, the place was homely and fun although I fear the “chef” had identified me as an infidel and filled my steak and ale pie with more pepper than steak, albeit (allegedly) from a local (possibly roadkill) cow.
“Yer bum’s oot the windae!” Translation: “You are talking rubbish.”
Night #2 was in an allegedly trendy hotel, the sort of place one might take a younger lady friend in an attempt to impress her when lying about one’s age.
The lighting was “subdued” but a cynic might say this was to reduce the vacuuming schedules by half as one could barely see the kettle, let alone dirt left by the previous occupant.
There were some free crisps (which I’ve just eaten lest I starve while waiting for Flybe 294) although the last time I stayed in one of these establishments, I had an upgrade to a bigger room with free beer (and milk) in the fridge, along with even more mirrors and a television into which one could easily attach a USB.
My host the previous night had invited me to dine (this is commonly known as “a bribe”) and insisted on a side order of local haggis, which is “…a savoury pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver, and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and cooked while traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach”.
I only agreed to taste this in exchange for a lift back to my hotel, and – mercifully –was able to immediately wash down with a bottle of local IPA, the top of which I ripped off with my teeth in a frenzied attempt to avoid spraying every man, woman and child within a two-mile radius with Exorcist-like projectile vomit. Haggis tastes like stronger Paxo stuffing (which I don’t like) but maybe – like other things – it was just hard to taste / swallow because I knew what it was.
Back at the airport, I’m distracted by constant announcements warning about trying to get oversized cabin cases onto the plane.
The likes of Ryanair and Flybe have reduced the size of bags allowed (unless you pay) and on the way over, a woman who possessed all the charm and looks of a warthog crossed with a Tyrannosaurus Rex insisted on ramming mine into what looked like a small cage / kitchen bin to see if it “complied”. It did (just) but when I managed to extract it, the front and back were scratched. I would have argued, but suspect I’d have been head-butted and kicked in the nethers as I writhed around on the floor, before being told I would have to board last and sit next to the bog.
It’s fair to say you get what you pay for (certainly when it comes to air travel) but manners cost nothing, deodorant a quid a tin if it’s on offer at Tesco (or every day at Home Bargains) and it’s not my fault God made her look like Cheri Blair’s ugly sister.
Finally home, I’ve tried to submit all my expenses before I forget what I spent, and the new system (designed in Germany) is clearly designed to be so complex that no-one bothers.
I might save it all until I go down to HQ next week and throw them at the office PA or just offer them to anyone who has worked out how to do it for a 10% cut.
But I’m grateful I wasn’t born in Scotland. Or Wales. Or Ireland. Or Germany. Or France. Or….