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5:46pm on Tuesday, 4th September, 2012:

To Venice


Our ship departs (well, as it left about an hour earlier than the time at which I'm typing this, I guess I should say departed) from Venice. This meant we had to get from Colchester to Venice by 5pm, the departure time.

We booked our flight through the cruise ship company, Celebrity. They fixed us up as part of a block booking of 20 from Gatwick on EasyJet. I'm not a fan of EasyJet; the best thing that can be said about them is that they're not RyanAir. Their logo uses Cooper Black, the same fatty font used in the Dad's Army credits that I don't like. They charge money for hold luggage, so everyone tries to take as much as they can in hand luggage, which means everyone wants to get on first to find a place for their hand luggage in the overhead lockers before they fill up, so EasyJet charges people for "speedy boarding" as well. Groups of several people who want to sit together have to have one of them pay for speedy boarding so they can claim a row of adjacent seats until the slow-boarding members of their party arrive. Then, because everyone wants speedy boarding, they limit how many people can do it and charge more to compensate.

So, this being EasyJet, with its free-for-all seat allocation mayhem, we didn't get three sets next to each other. We didn't even get two seats next to each other. We got two seats across the aisle and one seat in the row behind. I was in the latter. It was a bad seat that moved whenever I did, to such an extent that when we came in to land Iwas told to straighten it up even though I hadn't put it back and it was as far up as it would go.

Oh, I should mention that our flight was as 8:40am. To get to Gatwick and park and check in within the required time, we had to get up at 4am. This meant that when we took off, I wanted to do one thing: sleep.

I nodded off before take-off, but was soon awoken by a champagne cork popping. Apparently there were several sets of honeymooners on the flight, who regarded the time of day as no obstacle to opening a bottle of champagne. They drank the lot during the 2-hour flight, too.

I was further awoken by announcements (food, duty free, charity) followed by what the announcement announced coming past me asking if I wanted to pay for unappetising mayonnaise-based sandwiches, or goods for which the tax has been entirely replaced by EasyJet profit margins, or flight attendants begging on behalf of UNICEF. There were also the fascinating announcements that were not accompanied by actions, such as the riveting information that we were now flying past Luxembourg.

I was also awoken by the guy in the seat behind me, or more precisely his friend who came to pay him a visit from further back on the aircraft and who had a particularly penetrating voice. The guy behind me merely scrabbled around in his seat pouch periodically to wake me up.

The worst interruption to my attempted rest was caused by the woman across the aisle to my left. She called over a flight attendant and had him go through every item in the duty free catalogue, explaining to her what it was like and giving his opinion as to whether she should buy it or not. He didn't want to do it, but she loved the attention and wouldn't let him go. They weren't especialluy loud, but it did mean that he was crouched down next to her for HALF AND HOUR, during which time anyone who wanted to get past him BUMPED INTO ME as they squeezed through. I must have been hit 20 times, probably more. One flight attendant, a round woman with a huge backside, was an habitual offender. She did it a few times when her c0lleague wasn't crouched down, too, she was so wide.

In the end, I didn't get a lot of sleep. When we finally got to our cabin (oops, I mean "stateroom"), I managed 10 minutes before the entertainment director announced over the PA system that there would be an emergency drill in 30 minutes. I managed another 15 minutes before she announced it again, then another 15 minutes before the actual drill.

I suspect that the effort of digesting dinner later tonight will prove too much for me and I'll fall asleep at 9pm then wake up at 4am tomorrow.

Oh, and he woman sitting in the seat in front of my wife on the flight looked like Tom Cruise.

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Copyright © 2012 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).