There are many ways one could choose to spend 9 1/2 hours…renting and watching the complete first series of 'Lost'… clocking in a day at the office…or jammed in row 14 in economy seating aboard a charter flight bound for Orlando with a bunch of over-eager tacky tourists, a worn out Auntie, rambunctious toddler and hyper, newly-weaned baby. It is not an experience I hope to ever repeat (the return trip does not bear thinking about) and in many ways was an unparalleled disaster. Can't believe we're really here, the sound of the waves crashing, the hot sun beating down and Egg and Dumps slowly but surely beginning the long process of decimating my Dad's beachfront condo. I can't imagine we'll be invited back in a hurry – despite his unbridled adoration of his only grandchildren.
The trip started out harmlessly enough, with a grumpy East Indian cabbie ringing our buzzer at 5:30am. Jay had awoken to say goodbye, and helped bundle the four of us into the taxi (me, Auntie Ba, Egg and Dumps). How were we to know that we'd be in touch only minutes later when my mobile rang as we're whipping through the deserted streets of Balham around the same time a sleepy Egg asks Ba, "Where's 'Bacon'?". Uh. Oh. Nightmare.
If the cabbie hadn't been so pissy and we hadn't made so much progress in so little time we would have turned back. In retrospect we SHOULD have turned back. But we didn't. Poor little Egg spent the next half hour sobbing his little heart out for his beloved bear 'Bacon', and lamenting the fact that they would no longer be 'best friends' when he returned because they hadn't travelled together! No amount of bribery or soft cooing was able to calm and comfort him and my mother heart was torn asunder and given its first dry run of utter misery…it wasn't until Auntie Ba pointed out that Bacon hadn't gone to Ireland on one of their previous trips that he managed to stop heaving and relaxed into Auntie's arms dejectedly.
Of course there is nothing like a nice big impromptu puke to put a distracting slant on things, and doing what no other mother would stupidly do, I frantically emptied my beloved make-up bag and proffered it to Egg just as he began heaving….yuck! The rest of the drive was spent with Dumps screaming because he had spotted a mini easter crème egg in Egg's bag and had to hold it, and then wouldn't stop screaming because after he popped it in his mouth he couldn't for the life of him figure out why we couldn't keep them coming.
At the airport we raced to the desk only to find that we had beat the queue as planned, by showing up almost four hours before the flight. We were determined to bag bulkhead seats for the flight and if hanging around Gatwick for several hours beforehand was the price to pay, so be it.
There was a sweet young blond Polish girl who checked us in. The conversation went something like this:
(Me) "Could we please have the bulkhead seats?"
(Her) "It is looking like you have pre-booked seats…
(Me)"Oh – great – are they bulkhead?"
(Her) "Yesss"(East European lisp very prominent)
(Me)"May I look at the seating plan? "
(Her) "Yesss" (they are NOT bulkhead).
(Me) "Well CAN you move us to the bulkhead?"
I shan't bore you with the details but suffice it to say that when she told me she wasn't allowed to change our seats, I asked her to call her supervisor who gave her permission to do so, then four hours later after an impromptu magic show at Starbucks wherein both Egg and Dumps walked away with a joker each, we boarded the plane and discovered that the check-in girl had messed up. We were NOT in bulkhead seating.
A member of the crew attempted to remedy the situation by bribing the bulkhead passengers to switch with us in exchange for free drinks and other treats, but they had point blank refused.
Two rows behind us was sat an irate obese woman trying to get the attention of a trolly dolly because she needed a seatbelt extender and was being ignored.
She was no stranger to us as she had been sat opposite us in the boarding lounge. Egg had been staring at her for some time before asking aloud,
"Auntie Ba?" (Silence from Auntie Ba...at this point Auntie Ba was praying that he was transfixed by something other than the gigantically overweight woman in florescent tie-dye across from us).
"Look Auntie Ba... look!"
At this point Auntie Ba got the giggles because she knew what was coming and was ill-equipped to stop the inevitable.
"Auntie Ba why is he so fat? Why is he so fat?!"
It didn't help that 'he' was a 'she' with an androgenous shaven-head and might very well have been a cancer patient (sigh). I had made a clean getaway moments before by wheeling off Dumps to go stand in the queue prematurely. I let Auntie Ba take it for the team :)
Anyway, right now as I type this I am so shattered with jetlag that I can barely keep my eyes open. We obviously made it here safe and sound but not without incident.
I shall finish my saga in the next blog. I shall also hope to sleep through the night tonight – not like last night where I slept three in a bed with the boys, was awoken repeatedly throughout the few short hours between midnight and dawn, then dragged oud of bed by 5am courtesy of Egg.