Aquae Sulis

bath

Ah Bath…  Bath Spa.  Aquae Sulis.  England’s City of the Seven Hills.  The Spiked Star of Bethlehem.  The Poor Man’s Rome.  The Spring of Minerva.

We went to Bath on Saturday.  Is there anything better than the city of Bath when she’s bathed in sunshine?  We purred with delight in her warm embrace as we walked her Georgian sandstone boulevards.

Of course we journeyed there by train, which involved the usual Faustian intrigue of travelling with Great Western, those renowned purveyors of  railway transport-related incompetence.  They nearly thwarted us.  On top of a line closure between Swindon and Gloucester the timetable had been further mangled when one of their earlier trains had arrived at Swindon Station on fire.  No, you didn’t misread that, the train was apparently aflame.  No-one had been injured, but that kind of thing tends to have a bit of a knock-on effect on the smooth running of a railway station.

As a result we might have faced over an hour’s wait – minimum – for the next train to Bath.  Luckily the service to Weston super Mare had been delayed and was still on platform 4, so we hared up to join it.  I think we were literally the last two passengers they managed to squeeze on.  It was cramped, stifling and stand room-only but it got us into Bath with hours to spare before the show.

I haven’t mentioned the show we were going to see, have I?  Naughty Ben, slap on wrist.  We had tickets for Addams Family the Musical at the Theatre Royal, bought for Caroline for Christmas.  I didn’t realise, when I purchased them, that she’d never seen the Addams Family before in any medium, not comic strip, film or TV, so a short education was required with the help of Wikipedia.  To wit:

“The Addamses are a satirical inversion of the ideal twentieth century American family: an eccentric wealthy aristocratic clan who delight in the macabre and are seemingly unaware, or do not care, that other people find them bizarre or frightening.”

I don’t think I could’ve concisely summed them up better.  The play is touring the UK for the first time, having previous run on Broadway starring Nathan Lane.  The substance of the stage show is that the Addams’ daughter, Wednesday Addams, has fallen for an ‘ordinary’ young man and so his parents are invited to meet her’s.  Wednesday, aware that her suitor’s family are far more conventional than her own, begs her Gothic brood to try to be normal for just one night.  Inevitably it doesn’t end well.

All good fun.  But before that we went to the Garrick’s Head, a hostelry next door to the theatre and formerly the home of Georgian dandy Beau Nash, for a light lunch.  Very nice food.  Even better rosé that went down very nicely to slate our sun-inflated thirsts.  I think the pub may have changed hands again and standards have risen after experiencing a blip under the previous management.  Either that or they’ve pulled their socks up.  Either way we had a delightful time before the show.

And the show was good too.  Les Dennis is a winning comic presence  as Uncle Fester (although he didn’t give us his Mavis Riley; pity).  Cameron Blakley was a triumph as Gomez Addams, the Addams’ patriarch, playing the part adorned with an array of hysterical Hispanic histrionics.  Carrie Hope Fletcher, as Wednesday Addams, is strong of voice and stage presence and Samatha Womack (née Janus) as Morticia Addams is…

Well, she’s…

Look, you can only use what talents the dear Lord gave you, can’t you?  No need to mock the afflicted.  She sings perfectly well, I’ll give her that.

The staging was towering, the songs were lusty and the cast gave their all.  The first half is probably about 15 minutes too long, but overall it’s a great show and hopefully it should triumph in the West End should it end up there.  The only real annoyance was the old man sat in a Winnebago-sized electric wheelchair in the aisle next to us.  Firstly he forgot to turn off his mobile phone, which inevitably went off during the earlier moments of the first half.  He then did his level best to reverse over me as I tried to leave my seat at the interval.  I don’t know what was ailing him but should he wish to avail himself of the services of the good people at Dignitas then I’ll happily lead the fundraising for the flight to Switzerland.

After the show we sprung back out into the balmy heat.  Our train back wasn’t due to leave for another 45 minutes so we stopped at The Royal Hotel Bath opposite the station for a cooling libation and fell into conversation with a nice Canadian couple who seemed to have as little time for their Prime Minister as we do ours.  Justin Trudea is all talk and no action, apparently.  There you go.

Wishing our Canadian bar mates adieu we hopped on our train – thankfully less crowded and stifling than the earlier one – and made our way back to the People’s Republic of Swindon.

An old friend of mine from university, Blaine, visited me in Swindon many years ago and I took him for a day out to Bath.  Throughout the trip, captivated by Bath’s regal beauty, he repeatedly asked me: “So, explain to me – why doesn’t Swindon look like this?”

Eventually all I could do was snap back: “Look, it just doesn’t!  Alright?”

And so it goes.

 

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Friend of Farron

Funnily enough all this Tim Farron quitting as Lib Dem thing got me thinking about my paternal Grandfather.  Which isn’t a problem as far as I’m confirmed as I rather liked the old sod.  He was generous, funny, often mischievous and the possessor of a quiet but devout faith in God.  He attended church every Sunday (often in a hideously mis-matched tie and shirt combination calculated to get a rise out of my mother) and I’d like to think his faith offered him solace in the difficulties that he faced throughout his long life.

He also liked his whisky.  In his later years attempts were made to limit his intake, as they clashed with the pills he was taking.  At one particular family event all close family and friends had been asked to rebuff any requests he made to top up his glass.  Luckily for him my friend Matthew was there and my Grandfather spotted him like a hawk.  He beckoned him over:

“Matthew,” he said conversationally, but carefully glancing around to make sure my mother wasn’t watching, “Mary says I’m to have a drop of whisky.  Ice and water.  Pour us one, there’s a good lad.”

Not having been warned that the elder statesman of the gathering was on limited rations, Matthew fetched the bottle of Bells from the drinks cabinet and poured him a glass of the golden stuff.  As he was handing over the grog when my mother spotted the transaction, a fraction too late.  Matthew was taken off to receive a stiff talking to while my grandfather supped his bounty with a contented smirk.

But Granddad was always fond of Matthew.  When I’d pop and see him on a Saturday he’d often ask:

“How’s Matthew?  Is he seeing a young lady at the moment.”

I was always accurately able to confirm that he wasn’t as Matthew’s interest in seeing young ladies, in the romantic sense of the word, was and is practically zero.  He is a ‘Friend of Dorothy’ (but, I suspect, not a Friend of Farron in the light of current events).

And then, one weekend, he asked after Matthew after we’d had a few drinks.  And the devil took me and I said:

“Well, actually Granddad he’s gay.”

My Grandfather opened his mouth.  And then he closed it again.  His expression fogged.  I think he knew I didn’t mean “gay” as in “happy”.  Finally he said:

“Oh, right.”

And then he said no more.  I suddenly felt bad for springing that on him like that.  And I’d potentially made things awkward the next time they met.  It was a dick move, motivated, essentially, by a fleeting half-cut urge to get reaction from an old man.  What a bell-end.

The moment passed and we were soon, again, quaffing and laughing.

A few months later I was at his house and we were chatting about nothing in particular.  And then he said:

“So, Matthew…” he began, “How is he?”

I hesitated:

“Um, fine.”

“Right…” he adjusted his tie, “So, is he seeing a…” he paused, searching for the right words, “Is he seeing anyone at the moment?”

To be honest I wasn’t quite sure where this might be going:

“Um…  No,” I replied.

He sank slowly, thoughtfully, back in his chair, picked up his whisky tumbler and drummed the glass with his fingers:

“Shame,” he said, “Lovely bloke Matthew.  He deserves to be happy.   Give him my best when you see him.”

And he continued to ask after Matthew, in roughly the same terms, at regular intervals for the rest of his life.

And that’s what made me think about Granddad in the aftermath of Farron’s resignation.  Because apparently being a Christian might make it impediment to being a “progressive party leader”.

But it wasn’t an impediment to an 80-something year old man being a fucking legend.

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Cat-a-Flog 18

Sage has found himself a nemesis.  I think that’s perfectly healthy.  I, myself, like to maintain at least one nemesis on a rolling substitute basis.  Last week it was Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin.  This week it may be actor Shia LaBeouf.  Or 16th Century Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan.  I haven’t made my mind up yet.

Sage’s nemesis is far closer to home.  His antagonist is Larry, the black and white cat from next-door-but-one.  We get on very well with his owners, Gareth and Anna, but Larry has made an enemy of Sage.  Larry has trespassed on Sage’s territory.

As I may have previously mentioned we are letting Sage and Tarragon out for a wander in the evenings.  As we currently lack a cat flap we’ve taken to leaving the kitchen and/or patio door into the living room open so they can come and go as they please while we’re in the house.  Unfortunately for Sage this means other felines can come and go as well.

On Sunday morning Caroline found Larry who had maundered into our kitchen, found the remains of Sage’s wet food and was snacking away at it while Sage was out on the prowl.  The interloper was shooed away and the kitchen door was shut.  Caroline had to pop out and so I was left to guard the patio door in case Larry staged another raid.  This I did slumped on the sofa with my attention on the outside world very much in soft focus.

I became dimly aware of the sound of a cat munching on dry cat food in the kitchen.  I thought nothing of this at first, but then it occurred to me that I hadn’t heard either of our cats return.  Sage usually wails for attention as soon as he gets in the house and Tarragon thumps in across the floorboards with a big-boned swagger.  I’d heard neither of these, so I went to investigate.

Sure enough a Larry was at Sage’s dry food bowl, feasting.  Outside in the garden Sage was watching this through the glass of the locked kitchen door with an hard and indignant expression on his furry face.  I chased Larry back out through the dining room and out into the garden, where he lolloped past Sage at speed.

Sage trotted back and into the kitchen and regarded his depleted food bowl mournfully.  He didn’t leave the house again properly for over two hours.  Instead he prowled the house fitfully, returning to the threshold of the patio doors to guard them at intervals.  On more that one occasion he found Larry loitering in the garden, at a safe distance, in which case Sage stared daggers at him out until he departed.

Gareth told me later that Larry doesn’t even usually like dry food, so either he’s suddenly developed a craving for the stuff or he was dicking with Sage for the sake of it.  I’d like to think the latter.  It’s a bit much Sage getting on his high horse as he’ll regularly steal Tarragon’s food from under his nose when the smaller cat is distracted.   Turn around is fair play, I reckon, although Sage doesn’t see it that way, obviously.

Tarragon seems unabashed by Larry’s presence when they cohabit our garden.  Chummy, almost.  Maybe he put Larry up to it?  It’s the sort of thing I could imagine that Tarragon would do.

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Back to Life (Back to Reality)

It’s been several days since we were released from our retention at Rome airport and emerged unchained – Terry Waite-like –  from the the metaphorical radiator of British Airways’ incompetence, into Swindon’s pale lights.

What’s happened since?  Stuff and junk.  Caroline and I took Tuesday off work to lick our wounds, but returned for the rest of a three day working week.  Three days of work happened.  As usual I’m legally prevented from reporting on much of the legally sensitive and/or amusing goings-on there due to some sort of social media binding order that I signed in my own blood, sweat and other fluids.

Please don’t think you’re missing out on anything particularly interesting; my truncated week at work was spent, mostly, on catching up with e-mails.  Actually, to be precise: 99% e-mail answering, 1% ordered dishwasher salt.  It was thought we were out of dishwasher salt.  And then it turned out that we had more dishwasher salt.  A glut of the stuff.  How we laughed.

There you go, there’s a workplace-based anecdote for the ages.

Here’s another tale of Homer-esque (as in the Iliad, not the Simpsons) import: today I finally found my second-best spare pair of brass-rimmed spectacles.  I’d squirreled them out before the holiday, as I thought I might want them for the play I’m appearing in come July, the alternative is blindly scuffing my shins against set, props and fellow cast members, and so put them somewhere safe.

Could I remember where this safe spot was upon our eventual release from Italy?  Could I fuck.  I could remember everywhere I’d ruled out storing them and, lo and behold, they weren’t in any of these places.  So that part of my system had worked out well.    The “remembering where you actually left the bloody things!” part of the exercise?  Less so.

I eventually found them in the 47th (and technically last) place I looked.  On top of a book shelf.  Whatever mental process led to me thinking this was the best place for them (apart from their perch being relative cat-proofed) has been lost with the demise of my  pre-Italy brain.  I look forward to moving them to another “safe” hiding place and leading this dance again.

The cats are being allowed to roam again now we’re back on British soil.  The lack of a cat flap meant that they were confined to quarters while we were being abroad.  Them being allowed out is still freaking me out, to be honest.  I don’t expect them to return each time.  I expect them to find a comfortable alternative billet with some mad old lady who will feed them fillet steak and coo over them all day long until she pegs it and they feed on her due to the lack of steak.  Once the milk and free newspapers build up a caring neighbour breaks the door down to find the two cats mid-nibble on the dead cat lady’s arse.  They check the cats’ microchips, a court decides that that had no choice but to feed on the old catnapper and the animals are returned to us.  After that I can’t sleep in case the taste for human flesh over-rules them and I loose my eyelids.

I’m probably thinking too much about it, to be honest.

Ellie, who works in my office, went out to pick up some lunch at lunchtime today and I asked her to pick me up a pot of sandwich filler.  She asked which one.  I requested a Coronation Chicken.  She asked if that was “the curry one”.  I confirmed it was.

A little later she returned from Asda.  They were out of Coronation Chicken, she informed me, will this do?   She produced a pot of Jalapeno Chicken Filler.  It was like Coronation Chicken, she surmised, just a bit spicier.  It looked – and smelled –  fiery, but I was hungry and accepted it gratefully.  The raw mix was uncomfortable on the pallet but within bread it was bearable.  So I had it in two crusty rolls.

Later?  I’ve had three occasions where I’ve felt what it would be to pass molten lead.  Like what an angle grinder to the ‘Arris would feel like.  Vesuvius.  I’d quite like to sit in a trough of chilled yogurt, ice cubes and dock leaves.  That or accept a skin graft off BUPA.

But I live, even if we’ve had to store the toilet rolls in the fridge.

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Home (Third Part of the Unofficial BA Trilogy

Swindon

Spoilers in the title, obviously…

We woke up in the Rome Airport Hilton and our first action was to check online that British Airways hadn’t lapsed into further fuck-wittery during the night.  Not on the BA website, obviously.  We’d sooner have phoned home and expected one of our cats to provide a meaningful update.   No, we checked Twitter first, which was providing an unexpected support group for the stranded under the #British_airways hashtag, followed by the BBC website.  There was evidence of BA flights actually flying.  Presumably someone had turned their mainframe off and on again.

Things weren’t perfect.  The 8am flight from Rome to Heathrow had flown without a hitch, but over the course of the morning the schedule started to sag.  By midday our 5.30pm flight was already delayed an hour.  Still, getting home at some point was the priority.

After checking out at 2pm we walked back to Leonardo da Vinci airport, a journey we can now make blindfold relying on muscle memory alone.  Terminal 3 was far quieter and calmer and the queues at the BA check-in desks were shorter than the day before.  The airport staff looked far less on edge.  We took this as a good sign.

Caroline had a plan.  It felt like an implicitly doomed plan, but it was a plan none the less: we were going to ask if there were spare Business Class seats on the flight that we could be upgraded to (as we were supposed to be flying Business anyway).  The chances of any of these seats having suddenly become available seemed minuscule, but you never know.  Someone might have died of apoplexy as a result of trying to get through to the BA Helpline.

So we got to the nice Italian lady at the check-in desk and asked politely.  When she didn’t immediately dismiss the idea our hearts skipped a beat.  She started to type away at her computer, discussed something with her superior and a telephone call was made.  I wasn’t sure if she was toying with us maliciously or the past few days had pushed her over the edge and she was communing with the pixies.

And then we were told: yes, there were two Business Class seats available on a slightly earlier flight, the 5.20pm.  Would we like those?  There might not be food on the plane but sh’d give us 45 Euro’s-worth of vouchers to use in the food hall.  Would that be acceptable?

Well, the answer was yes, wasn’t it?  Especially as the 5.30pm flight that we were currently on, in Economy, had now slipped to a 7pm departure and was showing every sign of slipping further.  I resisted the urge to embrace her or do a little dance in the middle of the departure lounge.  We settled on accepting them graciously and being very, very grateful to the lovely matronly donna at the desk.

After sailing through security we got some grub and refreshments upstairs:  I had a lovely porchetta sandwich and a slice of chocolate cheese cake tart with a little wine.  Caroline had a bucket of tuna salad and more tart.

Fun Fact: There’s a Vatican City souvenir shop in Terminal 3 of Leonardo da Vinci airport.

What it sells: Popery.

What it doesn’t sell: Potpourri.

Then to the BA lounge.  We found out from the BA lounge receptionist that our new flight was a “special” flight added to the schedule.  Quite right too.

Our new flight was only delayed to 6pm in the end.  God knows when our original flight took off; it’s probably still in the air as I type.  Our new conveyance was nice Airbus 321 with plenty of rather snazzy features.  The head steward, Richard (lovely chap), told us that when he’d arrived for work that morning at Manchester airport he thought he’d only have  compliment of of 20 passengers, 1 being Business Class.  Instead he had a full plane load of people to deal with, many of them a bit frazzled after being stuck in Rome all weekend, and he’d have to make his way back to Manchester once we arrived at Heathrow.

My seat on the plane was something else.  It was like something a Bond villain (or Jimmy Savile) might sit in.  I’m neither, obviously, but I wasn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth:

IMG_0488

It reclined and had a massage option that I used more than once during the flight.  There was food available so we both took the “afternoon tea” option of finger sandwiches and a cream scone.  And I took some wine.  Just for my nerves, you understand.

After a smooth, comfortable and uneventful flight we landed at Heathrow at about 7.30pm local time.  A quick coach ride to the Terminal followed.  The carousel spat out our luggage almost immediately, we got the bus to collect our car from T5 Hilton and we were home before 10pm.

It’s nice to be home.  The cats seemed pleased to see us (one did at least) and we’ve booked today off as holiday to recover.  And to write “The Letter” to British Airways, obviously.  It might be slightly less stinging after our passage home, but it still isn’t going to be a fucking love sonnet, that’s for certain…

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Still in Rome (a.k.a The Letter)

“Rome, Rome on the Range,
Where the Thomases are grounded by BA.
There often is heard,
A pointed swear-word,
And the queues and waits cause nerves to fray.”

(with thanks to David Carter)

As it stands, at 11.36am Italian time on Monday 29th May, we are due to catch the 5.30pm back to London Heathrow.  The 8am flight from Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport seems to have made it back, so there is hope.  Obviously if something were to go wrong I don’t doubt that BA will be the last people to tell us.  Best stick to neutral news sources.  We should be flying BA Club, as that’s what we originally paid for, but we’re stuck in Cattle Class with the lesser mortals.  This will be referenced to in “The Letter”.

“The Letter”, as in the letter of complaint that we intend to write to British Airways, and their current Chief Executive Alex Cruse should be still be employed by the time we get back, will cover many interesting and varied topics at length.  Many, many topics.

It’s being predicted that they’re likely to be facing a £100m compensation bill.  Good.  I can deal with the inconvenience, just about, but their basic failures to communicate what’s been happening are what turned a disaster into a crisis.  The phone number they told people to call simply didn’t work.  The only reason that we’re booked on the flight today is because someone, a member of the public, found an alternative number and kindly posted it on Twitter.  Even then Caroline had to call the number literally 80 times before finally getting put in a queue.  Half an hour later she was speaking to a human being (who’d been called in while on holiday, so I expect he was as happy as we were).

He did offer to put us on the 15.10 flight yesterday, but it was already done 1pm at that point.  We were at Rome airport by that point and we could see that the bag drop off queues were barely moving as travellers were having to be processed manually by the barely civil airport staff.  There was no guarantee that, by the time we got back to the hotel, collected our bags and joined the queue that we’d get to the gate in time.

I was swaying gently on the spot while the call was going on.  I’d barely slept the night before at the Holiday Inn thanks to their patchy air conditioning and because I’d woken up at three am to be greeted by an anxiety attack.  Nothing too serious – not in the grand scheme of things – but my fists were flaring with pins and needles, my heart was hammering and I was soaked in sweat.  It passed, but sleep didn’t come easily after, so I was trying to function on a couple of hours rest in 26 degree heat.  This was compounded by my amygdala firing off jolts of nerve jangling cortisol at regular intervals.  I’ve had better days.

Still, once Caroline had done a mighty job of re-booking our flights we checked into the Hilton Hotel at Rome airport.  They only had Executive Suites available, but that’s BA’s problem, not ours (see: “Letter, the”).  After we dealt with the reception staff – many of who are snotty fuckers, it had to be said – I found the whole place to be very conducive to my humours.  The room was large, bright and crisply air conditioned.  The bed was wide and comfy, so I was able to manage a brief siesta, and there was an Executive Lounge on our floor for the usage of Executive Suite guests.

Oh, the Executive Lounge.  I could write a giddy little poem in the honour of the Executive Lounge.  Ruled over by a charmingly fussy little Italian fellow named Ascanio there were snacks, fruit, soft drinks, teas and coffees available.  “Come back at 5.30!” Ascanio implored us as we left, “There is food.”

There was more than food at 5.30pm.  Ascanio kept bringing out tray after tray of cold meats, cheeses, salad, fat olives, plump tomatoes and all manner of other fresh fair.  There were also potatoes – baked, boiled and fried – hot peas, freshly made cakes and little pots of fruit salad that he deposited on all the tables.  Also: unlimited wine.  No energy to go and top up your glass?  Not a problem; Ascanio provideth.  He was never still.  And stealthy.  My glass appeared to magically replenish itself on more than one occasion.  The Executive Lounge is obviously Ascanio’s own little enclave and he rules over it with immense pride.  We left him a nice little tip in the jar when we finally staggered out.

And to wind up the night we went down to the restaurant for some food.  It cost a bit more than the 25 Euros per person that BA will allegedly cover including wine.  That’s okay.  We’ll mention that in “The Letter”.

 

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British Airways can go and Fuck Themselves

ba

I hope the title of this blog doesn’t give away the contents too much.  I think it’s fair to say that I didn’t think I’d be typing at the writing desk of a slightly faded Rome Aurelia Holiday Inn this evening, but it just goes to show that you never can tell, can you?

I’m annoyed.  I think that’s a fairly understated summation of my current mood.  I’m sure that there’s an emoji for it.  That emoji wouldn’t safely be allowed near small children and the elderly.  That emoji would have bad intentions and teeth.

“Problems with BA flights. Are you okay?”

This was the text I received from my mother at 12.03 this afternoon.  We were already at Leonard di Vinci International Airport in Rome, in the queue and waiting to drop off our luggage, when the text came.  Apart from some glitches with the BA app on our phones we had no other warning.  Certainly not from BA.  We headed for the BA Club lounge and, thanks to their free Wi-fi, we started to see on the internet that there were issues.  Some sort of IT issues.

Still, our flight was still showing as being on time.  Why worry?  But then it became apparent that the Club Lounge was slowly filling with people and – worst of all – they were out of wine.  I considered taking the bottle of vodka under house arrest.  The numbers swelled.  The lounge became like a very middle class version of the Calais Jungle.  Still, thought a small naive part of me, if there really was a problem then British Airways would surely tell us…  Wouldn’t they.

The news on the BBC website became grimmer and grimmer.  Flights out of Gatwick and Heathrow were cancelled.  People were trapped on the tarmac in planes.  Both airports were in confusion and staff were forced to try to spread word via whiteboards.

Not a word in the BA Club Lounge at Roma.  We all knew we were headed for bad news as we had internet access but BA weren’t about to admit it.  Finally, about half an hour after our flight was due to depart, there was a call on the tannoy: all flights were cancelled for the day.  Luggage was to be collected and arrangements would be made for overnight accommodation.

We waited for our luggage for two-fucking-hours.  During that time we were given a series of contradictory updates, all incorrect.

“A BA employee would be down to give us an update shortly.”

Bullshit, we didn’t see anyone in BA livery for the rest of the wait.  They were probably all locked in a Panic Room under Terminal 3.

“Please speak to the staff at Lost Property/Bureau de Change/etc. for details of how to claim back for your overnight accommodation.”

No-one was more surprised than the staff at Lost Property/Bureau de Change/etc. who knew nothing of this and ended up getting shouted at.

“Please report to carousel 10 to reclaim baggage from cancelled BA flights.”

No mention that they were going to release luggage in order and we’d end up fretting about where our bags were for two hours for no good reason, ours being the last London flight to be cancelled.  I thought, for a while, our suitcases had been lost between Rome and Rome.

Eventually there was news: two pages of photocopied A4 were handed round to tell us how much we could claim back for our overnight in convenience: 250 Euros p/d for rooms (reasonable), 25 Euros p/d for food (we’re in Rome for fuck’s sake!  That wouldn’t buy a stale crostini) and 25 Euros per head for return travel to the airport (which might have been fine if the taxi ranks of Rome hadn’t been well aware that they had us over a barrel, the c**ts).

That’s all we got.  Two pages.  No help, no advice; just two pages offering a weak apology and recompense after the fact.  We were lucky.  We could afford to pay for a hotel.  We had mobile technology.  There were people in that airport who couldn’t spunk away 200 Euros out of their own pocket.  There were older people there without the mobile technology to find lodgings.  There were a lot of frightened and confused people there who were left out to fucking dry by BA.  There’s no word on when flights might recommence.  There’s no word on how we reschedule flights (this is up to us to do, apparently).  The phone lines to BA are still down.  It’s like BA have vanished off the planet, which is mighty fucking ironic as all of their fucking planes are stuck on the fucking earth.

We had a horrid drive in an expensive shared taxi from the airport where the driver drove us half-way round Rome, presumably because we had the nerve to haggle his down to 40 Euros when 65 Euros for a 15 minute journey seemed excessive.  Caroline got upset and I only held my temper so he didn’t turf us out by the Spanish Steps.  I’ve taken the piss out of the Holiday Inn for most of the evening, but they’ve been very kind and the receptionist took the trouble to ask Caroline if she was okay when we arrived.  This is the type of small generosity of spirit that is beyond British Airways, apparently.

The BA Chief Executive, Alex Cruz, has blamed the fault on “a power supply issue” and is “really sorry”.

That isn’t going to get us home though, is it Alex.

The Head of the GMB Union (who probably has an axe to grind as  his members lost their jobs) has blamed the problems on BA farming out their IT support to Indian on the cheap.

Sounds about right.  Everyone does it.  It’s never got me stranded abroad before, though.

Aviation expert Julian Bray said: “This is a very serious problem, they should have been able to switch to an alternative system – surely British Airways should be able to do this?”

A very fair point, Julian.  One that Alex with his piss weak apologies has yet to address.  And some information as to whether there might be the hope of any flights tomorrow would be nice as well because we’re stuck in fucking limbo wondering what we’re going to do after we check out in the morning.  The Editor of Business Travel News reckons disruption might rumble on for several days.  A little clarity wouldn’t go amiss, Alex.

Anyway…  I’m ranted out now.  The average Chianti from the hotel bar has soothed some of the indignation.  And the lamb chops were nice.  Bedtime, I think.

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