(I wrote this as I waited and I hoped…)
Some days, you think, “this is all going rather well”. More often than not, this is a mistake…
I am in a remake of The Tom Hanks movie The Terminal, directed by the ghost of Ingmar Bergman. A spectre-like Tony Robinson is providing the commentary. It is on a digital channel in a Lovecraftian universe.
It was always a mad idea, a 16 hour trip to Toronto for a brilliant benefit gig, but I said yes. I am hyped up now and have nowhere to go.
I was suspicious because I had slept.
Arriving at the Heathrow hotel at 1am, I would have to be up at 6. I never sleep when there is an early deadline. I repeatedly wake up, startled and fearful that I must have missed my appointment.
Yet last night, after a week of shoddy sleep in better circumstances, I had a full or almost full 5 hours. This never happens before an early flight, so I should have been aware that maybe I wouldn’t be flying after all.
Check in desk, nice and early.
“Have you got your eTa?”
Didn’t need it last time. Never mentioned by travel company or at online check in.
I can’t board without it. (why didn’t travel agent or air canada’s online check in have NEW REGULATION in big letters?)
Fat fingers fumble on the phone.
I eventually type, retype, mistype and correct, the form.
“You should have it in minutes”…though it can take 72 hours.
I wait. I sweat. I mumble madly.
Nothing comes through.
90 minutes gone.
But I still have 15 hours until the show in Toronto.
Air Canada are very nice. They can get me on another flight IF the eTa comes through. Blimey, I am only going to Canada to do a charity gig. I only wanted to help and co-compere the gig with an astronaut, I normally only co-compere with a cosmologist or an Arts Emergency idol.
I was looking forward to going on the plane. Brian Cox said it was a good plane and showed me pictures of a similar one when we were on the train to Chesterfield. He knows about these things.
He is at home, in bed. I am sitting in Heathrow sensing that my hope is turning to cinders.
Still nothing has come through.
I am only going for 17 hours and it is to do a charity event.
I am an idiot for not checking everything myself.
I am a disappointment. I have let down Chris and Evan Hadfield.
I hope I post this and quickly follow it up with an elated blog post that says I made it to Toronto in the end.
I have been psyching myself up for this mad trip for weeks.
My body is pumping with all the adrenaline I needed for this jaunt.
I have written this as something to do while waiting.
It has reached the stage where sounds are annoying me to the point of custodial sentence to an anger management clinic.
The couple on the next table are kissing too loudly.
I sit. I seethe. And I apologise. Much money wasted. Much time wasted.
I wonder if Heathrow has a Quaker Meeting House, I think I need some contemplation.
Let this be a warning to all of you who do not double check. I am a dull Aesop’s fable, I didn’t even kill a friendly amphibian to prove a point or make a metaphor.
Oh, and I was cleared for immigration at 5.37pm. Allowing for time difference, sadly I wouldn’t make it time for the after show drinks.
I hope everyone has a great night at Chris Hadfield’s Generator. I am miffed and I am sad that I fucked up at the last hurdle.
On the train home, I wrote about the aftermath some hours later.
Latest Book Shambles is Alexei Sayle, and before that, Nick Offerman. They are Here.
I feel your pain. On my last trip to the US, I’d checked-in online, only to have my check-in revoked when I tried to drop off a bag because the ESTA system had been taken offline for some reason. On an earlier trip, the ESTA had expired and I hadn’t realised so had to do the fill in and hope routine.
It would help if airlines, when asking you put in your passport number, also requested either the electronic visa number or, at least, gave a tick box ‘i am aware I will need this document’
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