Thanks to a strike at Frankfurt airport, two things happened. Firstly I was right. This doesn't always happen, and I tend to recall when it does (it's Confirmation Bias people - this is not a drill). However, let's assume that I'm not being entirely partial when I say that the strategy of committing to a contingency plan seems to work a lot more than awaiting a maybe. I have a couple of cases to prove this... I'll come back to the Frankfurt thing in a moment, this is not a digression.
When we were organising Funny's Funny an issue occurred where a showcase was pulled. Rather than organise a replacement, I reasoned that we should organise two, since something was bound to happen. By going for a more coherent contingency plan, rather than just a Plan A on that, we managed to do more and have more success that if we'd just organised a like-for-like replacement... a cancellation of which would have probably broken the whole thing.
The more up to date case is the cause of the last few hours of my life. On Friday last I was supposed to have a day trip to Frankfurt for a meeting. On the day before, there was talk of an airport strike and I started talking about contingency plans so we could do the meeting on the Friday as planned. The plans were basically:
- Go the night before, buying some extra clothes right away and getting on with it there and then
- Switch the flights to a different airport for the following day
Then the next strike murmurs started. I wasn't larking about. "Let's reorganise," said I, "losing the meeting is worse than losing a bit of unnecessary reorganisation fee". As a result, we planned the trip I've just started... and it's complex - or at least more complex than just flying to Frankfurt. So, we organised it, risking that the strike might not happen and the complex trip might not be necessary.
According to news reports, there's a strike that would have buggered me right up!
So, I had to go to Terminal 1 today instead of my favourite Terminal 5 (Heathrow, of course). This was a shit-tip of a Terminal which made me sympathetic to the Twitter Joke Trial chap, Paul Chambers, whose frustration, which came out in a "interpret this as terrorist threat if you're a total anus" tweet that caused him much trouble. I was clever enough not to tweet that sort of thing, but still felt my blood pressure rise as I progressed through their cack-handed systems in the direction of my plane.
The noisy and shabby airside waiting area didn't help, but I found a Pret a Manger and my pseudo-middle-class soul was slightly soothed.
Landing in Cologne, I had to find a hire car. This isn't hard. I got a nice car, but it was hiding on a different floor of the car park, and the other car rental customer I accosted to half ask for help, didn't seem impressed. He was even less impressed when I flagged him down and told him that I thought we were definitely in the wrong place... but he was soothed when I turned out to be right and he got to his car.
The Renault Megane was in German. It was also a Renault - never driven one of these - and didn't have a key. I had to look around where to insert my card. Then I couldn't work out how to get the sat nav to go on... then I eventually managed to get it into English, though I became obsessed with the possibility that "Jane" - the TomTom English speaking voice - was talking with a slight German twang. At some point I'm sure she told me to take the third reich, rather than right, but I digress.
Having fathomed out how to get moving, I discovered I had a hundred miles of driving ahead of me. This was fine, but then I found myself driving over desolate unoccupied German country lanes, possibly taking a shortcut through some hills: I don't know for sure. I felt a little bit like I was being kidnapped. Kidnapped by myself. That's a fun evening out, that's for sure.
I tried to use the distance-to-destination to nickname some of the small towns I was in. I decided that one little town was "basically Burford", and I was highly amused at "Bad Homburg", which I can only imagine is also the way a German dog owner might shout at his errant hound.
I'm now at the hotel. All is well. I released myself from the kidnapping and I avoided the strike buggering me up. It gets a bit more complex tomorrow. I have a day in the vicinity of here and then I'm driving back to Cologne to stay in an airport hotel overnight. I'll wake up on Thursday morning, have a leisurely morning's tippety tap on the computer, and then be back on the plane for lunchtime. Then I'm gigging in Bangor, N. Wales... of course I am. Another bunch of hills and a self-kidnapping scenario.
On the way home from my gig, I turn 38. Will I then immediately grow out of all this shit? Who knows.
Good luck to all who read this.