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Wednesday, July 5

Oooh that's Early

Had I written a blog entry while waiting for the next plane, it would have looked a bit like this. As it happens, I'm writing a blog entry a few days later after a long and busy week has kept me away from my as-they-happen-memoirs.

Late to bed, early to rise
I awoke, this Wednesday morning at 4.30am. I don't normally manage to get up before 9am most mornings and it usually takes a lot of very loud alarm clocking to help me achieve even this meagre feat. However, when I went to sleep at about 1.30am, I was so worried about missing my correct wake up, that I pretty much programmed my body to wake up at the right time... which only goes to show that part of the reason I don't manage to get up during the week is that, deep down, I just don't want to.

Previously...
Anyway, the plane to Edinburgh, which had been delayed, had only set my journey back by about 20 minutes. These 20 minutes would not, as it happened, have done very much for my ultimate itinerary, though they may have affected my stress levels a bit. Blogging on my phone, which was a fairly tricky thing to do, kept me sitting in my seat as everyone else in the airport lounge got up to join a queue. EasyJet have a booking priority system - you get a letter on your boarding pass indicating your position. I was a "D", so couldn't really expect to rush.

I got onto the plane and found an aisle seat near the back. This would later afford a sharp exit. I spend the entire flight talking bollocks to an Irish girl. We discovered that we were linked via at most 2 degrees of separation, maybe just one. We'd both been to see a play last year in which a friend of mine played the lead. The Irish lass knew the director - so, unless I've met the director, which I think I have, that's a separation of 2 people.

Landing and moving on
I blethered until the point that she was bored and the plane had landed, then I buggered off. I headed for the Europcar desk and was given keys to a VW Golf. They gave me the opportunity to pay them more money to reduce the excess on the insurance of the car. I'm increasingly given to believing that insurance is largely a gambling opportunity and a mug's one at that. I decided to simply avoid having an accident (admittedly, the excess is actually mine to pay even if someone hits me, but I decided to give the "try to steer away from nutters" thing a go too).

Afterwards, I had to take a bus to the car lot. So far, my day had been:
  • Car to work
  • Car from work to airport
  • Bus from car park to terminal
  • Plane to Edinburgh
  • Bus to car lot
I would soon follow this up with:
  • Car to Edinburgh centre to pick up a friend
  • Car to Dundee to watch a play
  • Car back to Edinburgh centre to get 3 hours' sleep
Lots of traveling.

I have skipped around too much now. In the start of this blog entry, I pretended to write about what I would have said had I felt up to the job in the airport on the way back down south. I then described the plane journey to Edinburgh, which is where the previous blog entry left off, and the picking up of the car at Edinburgh airport. Before you know it, I've already gotten back to sleep and I haven't described any of the things which happened while I was in Scotland, which was, after all, the purpose for the trip.

Fun in the land of the Scots
Originally, I'd expected to arrive at a point where time was tight and I wouldn't have the opportunity to pick up the friend who was providing me with somewhere to stay and was accompanying me to the play in Dundee. I reckoned that Edinburgh rush hour traffic would keep me away from the centre, or imprison me in it. I thought that my friend could catch a bus out west which is where the airport is and also where the route to Dundee pretty much starts.

The delay of the flight had made things seem more urgent, but in reality we'd only lost about 20 minutes, and I'm fairly certain that some time was made up in flight.

So when I contacted my friend to see how close she was to being able to leave work, it seemed that I had time to get into Edinburgh centre to pick her up. This I did. I love Edinburgh, so even the opportunity to get stuck in its traffic was something I relished. As luck would have it, she works in a part of town I know very well, and I also know the back routes to. So, I had quite a few minutes sitting parked outside a cafe where my friend, my girlfriend and another friend all met for coffee once, many months ago, when I first introduced my girlfriend to the Edinburgh crowd. This was not a stressful thing at all. In fact, I was now in the journey comfort zone. Plenty of time to get to Dundee, and the only risk factor was the slightly-underinsured car which I was using. It could break down, or perhaps we could encounter hideously randomly awful traffic. I didn't expect it.

I relaxed. I had my sat nav with me and I programmed it for the venue in Dundee. Then I waited. After a brief time, my friend arrived and got into the car. For a fleeting moment, she looked like a teenage girl might when picked up by her dad. It was the way the seat dwarfed her, and the pleasant and demur attitude she adopted. We laughed at that. Then we set off into the traffic.

Meandering our way around some random Edinburgh streets, with the sat nav making suggestions, some of which were possible, and some of which were nonsense, we eventually ended up on a road heading to Dundee (well, all roads, as they're interconnected, might as well meet that description - in this case, the road was not itself a straight-line to Dundee, but it was part of a sequence of roads that represented an efficient route).

The journey passed by with stories which allowed us to catch up on each other's recent histories and also that of mutual friends. Rumours, hi-jinx and other news were all met with insane giggling on my part. I was in a good mood and I like to giggle. The meat of my half-day off work was now being discovered in the sandwich of long-distance traveling.

Play
We arrived in Dundee in plenty of time for the play. Contemplating getting food or something to drink before kick off, we discovered members of the cast and crew, got talking, and ended up in the bar of the venue. Soon it was time to watch the actual play, so we did just that.

I won't include a review of the play here. Go and see it - Falling For Grace - in Edinburgh during the festival if you're interested.

Overall, I think the play got a good first public run. There were moments which worked really well and, considering how underprepared they all felt, it came across as an assured and slick performance. It's a hard play to perform in. There's a lot of "telling" and a lot of times when a character has to remain silent while the other person on stage is doing it. Playing those silencesm, and avoiding the thing turning into a race to the end, is a challenge that was ably met.

One of the cast is a comedian and I would definitely have traveled a long way to see him perform anything. He is a naturally gifted and charismatic performer and it was a pleasure to see him.

Among all the joy of seeing people I'd not seen for quite some time, there was a tinge of disappointment in the fact that I'm now so far away from Scotland. I honestly believe that I made the right decision in changing job and moving down south, but that doesn't stop my from missing the friends and locations which used to feel so nearby.

We headed back to Edinburgh after the show and the post-show-post-mortem and had a cup of tea while my friend's flatmate finished watching the really crap movie (well, I found it turgid) she was watching in the sitting which would become my short-stay bedroom.

Returning to work
I woke up on time at 4.30, got dressed, into the car, to the airport, via a petrol station, and returned the car and keys. No crashes or damage, vindicated my decision not to spend more on insurance. Then I checked in and bought a big Costa coffee and a sandwich. I'd not had the time the previous day to eat much - just some Pret a Manger sushi - so I needed a pick me up.

Now this is the bit of blog I would have written if I hadn't been too busy around the time it all happened

The plane ran to time and I spent the flight in conversation with a French girl, who was just as jaunty as I was, which meant that the conversation never dropped and we bored each other in equal measure. That was fair. Then we landed and I ran for my car. I was in the mid-stay car park and I knew exactly where my car was, since I'd had to return to it once already - just before the bus left in fact - as I had originally left my passport on the front seat during the mad dash for the check-in desk the previous day. Indeed, the previous day had been fairly stressful - getting the airport and everything, and the only moment when I tried to relax, which involved eating my sushi, and buying a relaxing smoothie, resulted in me being told my the security desk people that I wasn't allowed to bring a drink through security. So my relaxing smoothie ended up being wolfed down, as I was fearful of not getting to the gate in time. I wasn't to know about the delay.

Anyway, the next stress was about to start. I got to my car, rigged up the sat nav and then headed out to work. It was about 8. I had 2 hours to get to the office.

The roads in this country suck. It should not take 2 hours to drive 80 miles on our major major roads. However, we have a bad combination of a poor integrated transport policy, poorly maintained roads, poorly thought out combinations of road works (i.e. they shouldn't be doing too many roadworks in adjoining roads as that causes extra traffic) and bloody idiots behind the wheels of cars, hogging lanes, and driving too slowly for the already limited road conditions. I ran a little later than I planned, though I was able to contact work and warn them and everything was fine.

A day's work
Just before I'd left the office the previous day, I'd managed to get the program, which I'd so amazingly broken (on purpose - I was transplanting something new into it) to work again. Some of its data was even being stored out to a real database. Some of it was still pretending to be. The fact that I could use the program was excellent. It meant that I could proceed with the details, rather than continue to worry about whether it would ever work.

So, continuing from the previous midday's work, I set about putting in the things which were still missing. I made slow but assured progress. I left the office about 7pm, grabbed a quick sandwich and headed back.

My transport day had been pretty hard going, but not as hard going as that of one of my colleagues, who spent about 2 hours stuck in his brand new car on the M25, clockwise (I'd used the anticlockwise route myself, so it could have been me). The M25 had been closed. Simple as that. Closed. A major road and there's nothing you can do. An accident, undoubtedly caused by a combination of stress, bad luck and stupidity, and a major leg of hundreds of people's journey becomes a car park.

My drive back to Reading was the least stressful trip I'd taken all day.

The fallout
It turns out that all this gadding about being an arse can sometimes put the back up of one's girlfriend. Following an exchange of views, I was recommended to return to Farnborough to both be near the office for the following day's work and jaunt off to the next gig, and also to be out of the way of the person I had pissed off.

I returned to Farnborough and did what I thought would be most productive.

A night's work
I arrived back at the office at about 10.45pm. I signed in, went to my desk and spent about 2 hours swearing at the computer and typing exceedingly loudly. This had the result of keeping me awake - I'd been up since 4.30am - purging me of any negative feelings, and getting some important progress on the task in hand. In addition, it meant that I wouldn't be struggling to make sure I'd done my required hours that week. Jaunting around, even with time taken off, can be hard on the working hours - especially with commuting time to and from work to take into account. My working day is definitely longer than it used to be.

A night's sleep
I dropped off to sleep exhausted and raring to go the following day. Having a lot of stuff to sort out tends to put me in a hyperproductive mode where I can do even more. It's short-lived, but what the hell. I want to feel like I can achieve more than average. I want to push myself above my own average and out of my own comfort zone. Admittedly, I don't want to drive to non-existent gigs and piss off my girlfriend, but I didn't want to take these failures to heart and lose my purpose.

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