London. Travel day.
Despite having to pack and fly to the southern hemisphere, I managed to cram in a string of meetings this morning. Some were with my video team who will be putting into action any new ideas that come up this week, and I also met with Frederic, our Belgian LED guru about some longer-term ideas.
This was followed by a modicum of packing and I even managed a quick haircut before heading to Heathrow. The reunions began even before getting to the departure lounge, as I met Dec in the line for the X-ray machines. They move pretty quickly at the new Terminal 5 and generally speaking the staff have a pretty good, non-hysterical attitude. (There was one incident I saw here one time that still makes me chuckle every time I come through: I was in the queue behind a large American woman with an even larger bag. She came to the X-ray counter and asked the security officer for help lifting the bag onto the belt. Said officer, an older-middle-aged white English woman, with a voice like a BBC newsreader and aspirations to match, explained that each passenger was responsible for dealing with their own baggage. "But it's too heavy for me to lift," complained the disgruntled traveller. "Madam," says Mrs BBC, "may I ask, did you pack this bag yourself?", "yes...", "Well then, you€™ve only got yourself to blame....")
To the lounge, passing a flock of circling Belgians en route, and eventually to the aircraft. I had scored my customary seat, a window in the small, upstairs cabin. I love this because you really are in your own little world, tucked away in your own seat enclosure. I was just settling in when I experienced the ultimate horror - the most terrifying thing an air traveller can see at close quarters on board. Forget terrorism, up over the front of the enclosure comes the gurgling head of an infant, already settling into some hearty squealing. Worse yet, she was in possession of a pair of the very worst sort of high-stress parents imaginable, already lining up an immense row of bottles, feeders, capsules, toys and garments. ("Do you have the pyjamas? Where are the pyjamas? Feeder? Where's blankie?") My heart sank at the thought of being seated right next to a twelve-hour overnight stress-fest, so I went to make some enquiries of the cabin crew as to space downstairs. The crew were more than understanding (with comments being made about sedatives, pet-carriers, etc.,) but said they thought that there was only one seat open downstairs, but I was welcome to go for a look. I was shown to the vacant spot where, much to my surprise, in the adjacent seat I found Smasher, the 360 video director, just getting himself tucked in. Result!
It was a long old flight but I can sleep on planes, which is something of a blessing. (Actually I can sleep pretty much anywhere, these days - it's staying awake that's the hard part.) I tried some movies but just couldn't settle into anything. I'm normally capable of sticking with even the most banal tripe on a long flight but Morning Glory, Due Date and Harry Potter 5 each all defeated me within 20 minutes or less. In the end I settled for an episode of the ever-reliable Simpsons and passed out.