Thoughts from a non GQ reader

I once flicked through an abandoned copy of GQ magazine in an airport lounge.  Have you ever seen one of these behemoths?

I was bored and it was just there on the table I was sitting at, so obviously I was going to leaf through its pages.

At first I wondered why anyone would buy a brand new magazine and then leave it in the departure lounge.

Then I picked it up.  This was a heavy magazine!  Maybe the owner was worried it might prevent their flight from leaving the ground and left it behind.

I turned over the cover and was greeted with an advert.  Fair enough, plenty of magazines start with an advert.  This was followed by an advert, then another advert before moving on to numerous pages of adverts and adverts.  By ‘numerous’ I mean 22.

That’s right; the ‘Contents’ page was on page 23.

By this time I had this overwhelming urge to grow back some stubble, head back to duty free and buy a suit/watch/aftershave whilst pouting and looking intensely into the distance.  Maybe THAT’S where the owner of the magazine went?

I kept turning pages and eventually I found an article, on page 37.

This was ridiculous.  I was being bombarded with more images of men in various states of undress than I’d like.  I have a limit.  That limit is roughly 0.

I decided to test a theory.  I closed the magazine and then let it open at any random page.

Advert.

I tried again.

Another advert.

I flicked the magazine like a flipbook and stopped it randomly.

It was an article about a man who, whilst walking through the autumn leaves in his coat had decided to….oh no, wait, it was another advert.

What a infuriating, pointless and really, really, ridiculously good looking waste of my time.

zoolander-poses

A funny thing happened on the way to the airport…

Sat in the cab on the way to the airport, we stopped off at a cash machine to draw out some money to actually pay the driver.

I collected my funds, got back in the taxi and opened my wallet to put the notes in.

“Ha”, I said to my American wife as I wedged the English tenners next to the US Dollars already in there, “this money is like us”.

In a strange, romantic way it made me think of us, together in this wallet we call life.

She peered at the notes and said “What, pale?”

It’s true, we really need this holiday.

Buddha, broken legs and bell-ends

There are some mornings, like yesterday’s, that really highlight all the things I love* about sharing my train journey with people.**

It started with the loud group of lads who boarded the train at Gatwick Airport; five young, loud examples of British testosterone…in shorts.

Fortunately I’d chosen not to sleep on the train that morning, apparently. It seemed I was only closing my eyes for effect; of which it had none.

As much as I’m not a fan of loud people on the train having loud conversations with each other, I was willing to forgive them as it was clear they were at the end of their time together and were still buzzing.

We’ve all done it.

We’ve all been there.

What I was not willing to forgive was three of them sat at one table (randomly leaving a blank fourth seat) with their suitcases piled high like a massive game of duty-free Jenga, one sat across the aisle from them at the other table next to a man reading his book (with two remaining empty seats) and the last one sat three rows back behind my wife and I.

Where’s the sense and logic in that?

The train was practically empty, so why didn’t they just sit together?

Maybe a couple of them wanted to sleep?

Maybe they’d fallen out and argued on their holiday resulting in that awkward silence the rest of us were so desperately hoping for.

Nope.

They just continued to have their loud conversation across the entire carriage about ‘Natalie’ and ‘Gabriela’ and ‘Sam’, and who had added who on Facebook.

It’s OK guys, feel free to be as loud as fuck because I’m clearly not sleeping and that bloke at the table you’ve sat next to is clearly not reading his book. I think he’s more than happy to just sit there and admire the pretty words.

As expected, their conversation was the usual inane recounting about specific events of their holiday, whilst being extremely vague.

“What about that bloke at that place with the thing who seemed to be in every bar; the one that thought he was black but wasn’t!?””

“Oh yeah!” (said the other four, in unison)

Yeah? What about him?

Nothing. That’s what…nothing.

Soon enough the train started to get busier and the seats and aisles started filling with other commuters also discovering they didn’t wanting to sleep or read either, especially those who had chosen to sit in the empty seats confusingly left vacant by these flip-flop’d fools.

And speaking of vacant; these socially challenged pretty boys*** continued to buck the rules of public transport etiquette by communicating at top volume until their poorly chosen seating arrangements finally got the better of them and they (for want of a better phrase) shut the fuck up.

Ah, bliss.

This meant I could sleep.

But wait, no it didn’t.

You see, the woman in the seat in front of me had this weird habit of banging her head on the headrest of her seat as she spoke to her colleague. It was like she’d rest her head after every sentence, thus continuously bumping the seat.

I’d never seen someone with the utter inability to keep her head still while she talked.

It wasn’t a weird tick or anything, as I would never mock the disabled, but she just gestured a lot and then kept bumping her head against the headrest at the end of every sentence.

“That’s a really good point”
*bump*
“But maybe we should evaluate the business model further?”
*bonk*
“I feel we should raise the matter in the meeting this afternoon”
*donk*
“Don’t you?”
*thud*

It was non stop.

So why was this an issue for me? Well, being 6ft tall my knees were pressed up against the back of her seat, so every 2 or 3 seconds I would get a wake up nudge from this bobble headed bint.

I thought about breaking off my legs and beating her to death with them…

*thwack!*

…but instead I somehow managed to fold my legs under me like a contorted Buddhist and closed my eyes again.

As I placed my head back onto my own headrest I felt a weird, bumpy texture.  My brain registered that it was actually the back of someone’s hand. The man stood in the aisle next to me had strangely placed his hand on my seat’s headrest, right behind my head.

Of course, with a whole network of handrails and handles to hold onto, it makes sense to steady your balance on someone’s seat; right behind their head!

Anyway, I jerked forward (as anyone would), turned to look up at him and, being very British, apologised.

In fact, we both did.

His was sincere.

just shut up

* loathe

** idiots

*** the sort of guys with a more comprehensive beauty regime than most women.  I swear one of them had shaved arms.

 

Killing him softly….

My dodgy stomach has been no fun on this trip. When I finally made it through all the security checks at Orlando International airport, I made a dash to the mens room for the inevitable.

Having negotiated all the same wet toilet seat issues from my blog on the 11th of December, I sat down to my Jamaican attraction; Dung River Falls.

I flushed, stood up, wiped my brow, caught my breath and my balance, unlocked the stall with the massive gaps (11th Dec blog) and opened the door.

Oh no.

Oh no, oh no, oh no.

There was a guy waiting for an empty stall, and I’d just vacated one.

I looked at him with a sense of sadness and guilt. I wanted to hug him and, whilst holding back tears, wish him good luck.

His family are going to miss him.

Cuba stard! Pt. 3

This is a follow on from the last two entries.

It just gets better and better.

We land in Nassau 25 minutes late and taxi to the gate. So far so good(ish); I can probably still make my flight.

Then, stop.

There’s an issue with getting the walkway up to the plane door, so we stand there and we wait for another 15 minutes. I’m getting worried now; my connecting flight leaves in 45 minutes!

We finally get off the plane and I power walk towards the baggage claim area like a man possessed, through the newly built wing of the airport.

Then, stop.

The security doors are locked and neither of the security staff can open them with their electronic flashy beepy key card passes. Shit! We stand there for another 10 minutes while someone goes and gets what’s called a ‘key’, and hey presto, the door opens! Magical!

With only 35 minutes until my flight, I hit a full sprint…which is great considering we were at the furthest gate from ANYWHERE!

The good news is that my bag is already there waiting for me at baggage claim, with an “oh there you are!” look on its face. Hooray! I grab it and run, with my case hopping from left wheel to right wheel in a manner threatening to capsize at any moment!

Then, stop.

A queue for customs. I bite the bullet and, whilst panting heavily and sweating like a whore in church, I ask the line of people if I can jump in front of them as I have a flight in 10 minutes. The woman at the front made it clear she was not happy by looking me up and down and scowling, but the customs lady heard me and beckoned me to go next. Ha! In your face scowling woman! The customs lady asked if I had any alcohol or cigarettes and then sent me on my way. I picked up the sprint where I left off and bolted through arrivals and out into the Bahamian air.

Whew! That is HOT!

No time to stop and catch some rays; I run into departures and straight up to the BahamasAir check-in desk, panting and wheezing like a priest on a whore.

Then, stop.

The flight is now closed.

Aaaaaaarrrrrgh!!!!!!

I pull out the big guns; giving the ultimate puppydog eyes, pleading and (which is what I think swung it for me), pointing out that it was THEIR flight that caused me to be late.

It worked and I got my boarding pass! She smiled and said, “now go to gate C51” like they do in the movies when they say “now go get her and tell her you love her!”. I ran my fastest run, knowing my beloved was waiting with wings open wide.

Interestingly, US customs and immigration was a breeze….and unexpected as I thought I would get it at the other end, not in Nassau. Oh well, less hassle in Florida I guess.

I then continued to run; my lungs bursting with the fast pumping of oxygen passing through them.

I can see the Departures board. It’s just up ahead! I’m nearly there! It’s gonna happen! This journey from Satan is almost at an end!

Flight delayed for 45 minutes.

I stood there, looking up at the screen, dripping with sweat, panting so hard that nearby kids were passing out from oxygen deficiency, and I could only do one thing.

I laughed.

I mean I really laughed out loud.

The family next to me were shielding their children from the strange laughing man, but I didn’t care. I just stood there and let out a big hearty laugh.

Brilliant. I couldn’t have ended this story any better. Irony had handed me the perfect conclusion to this episode of my journey.

Looking around me I suddenly realised I was technically in the States; there was a Wendy’s, a Quiznos, a Dunkin’ Donuts and more. But best of all, I was just happy that everything was clean, shiny and air-conditioned. I ventured into the toilet and there weren’t shit spattered bowls, piss covered floors and water-free taps.

Heaven.

I can wait 45 minutes. After all, I’ve got to get my breath back.

Cuba stard! Pt. 2

How’s this for some scary shit?

I go to check in at Havana airport only to be told that, as I’m going onto the United States, I need to show my completed ESTA (which I don’t have on me mainly because I wasn’t told I needed it as it was all authorised and approved online), Otherwise i cant leave Cuba.

What.
The.
Fuck??

He asks if I can get it up on my iPhone, but I have no Internet and he was less than willing to allow me to access the Internet from a computer in the entire airport. I mean, how crap is that?

Anyway, after much pleading and my best puppydog eyes, he directs me to the BahamasAir office so I can go onto one of their PCs and show them my ESTA online.

I leave the coolness of the terminal, adopting the briskest walk I have, and into the sauna known as Cuba. Then, with heavy suitcase and hand luggage, I climb the stairs to the first floor office.

That was fun.

I eventually find the office which doesn’t have any signs on it and there’s a bitter old lady sat behind a desk who demands to know what I want. I tell her. She seems annoyed that I’ve interrupted her work and beckons me over. As I get nearer I see she’s on Facebook.

Perfect.

Anyway, I access my details (on the ESTA, not Facebook), and she looks at it over her glasses like my old maths teacher used to do. She then writes a compliment slip out for me to take back to check-in to say I do actually have an approved ESTA. Then she suggests I get lost, which sounds sexier in Spanish somehow. With foresight I take a couple of photos of the computer screen as I don’t need a repeat of this in both Nassau and Florida!

I lug my heavy case back down the stairs, through the heat and crowds and back to check-in. The clerk looks at the slip, smiles and then asks if I have confirmation of my flight out of the US, otherwise I can’t leave Cuba.

Are you kidding me?? I swear these people really want me to stay!

No, I don’t have the confirmation of the flight back to the UK as it was being booked this week back in England whilst the girlfriend and I were sunning ourselves in Cuba.

A few more puppydog eyes later I finally get my boarding pass and I’m allowed airside by the (ahem) ‘pleasant and friendly’ immigration staff, and security staff, and just staff generally. Gosh darn it they’re SO friendly.

To top it all off, the flight is now going to be leaving about 40 minutes late as they’ve only just started boarding; 15 minutes after it was due to actually take off! So I’m probably going to miss my connection.

Excellent.

I really am going to miss this place.