It’s Friday, it’s five to five, but alas, it’s not Crackerjack. It’s actually time for me to return home after a hectic day-and-a-half in Prague. I should state, mind you, that the words, ‘in Prague’, are somewhat misleading. I spent most of yesterday at Manchester Airport, but more on that in a minute. First of all, allow me to say a big thank you to this fine city and to the folks at the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV)
for taking such good care of me. My EADV 2012
experience is drawing to a close and I now know much more than I ever expected to know about dermatological complaints. This might not sound like a particularly pleasant
learning experience – and in truth, several images have forced me to turn my head away and wince – but it was most certainly an interesting one. ‘Skin is Vital’, reads the tagline of the 21st
EADV Congress, and never is this fact more evident than when something goes wrong with it. I am heading home with a newfound appreciation for dermatologists.
17:00, it transpired, was a laughably optimistic prediction. Our original plane had a technical fault meaning that I had to await the arrival of a second plane to rescue me from the nightmarish spiral of Irn Bru and Tangfastics that my life had become.
Now, allow me to vent my airport woes. Perhaps some background information will be helpful. Essentially, I do not travel well.* This is a well-known fact amongst my long-suffering family, friends and colleagues. The first time that I went out into the field for ScienceOmega.com
was at Innovate '11
. On this particular occasion, Amy Caddick
was my accompanying adult. Much to her frustration, Amy quickly discovered that when I leave the cosy confines of what is familiar, I quickly degenerate into an oblivious child. The sum total of my directional skills can be encapsulated by the following philosophy: ‘The direction in which I am facing is probably
the direction in which I should be walking.’ Unfortunately for me, it rarely is. In April of this year, after a few chaperoned trips to London, I was finally let off my leash. Lisa Carnwell
accompanied me to the headquarters of the Royal Institution
, but as her presence was required at an afternoon meeting, she was forced to leave me alone to find my way home. Whilst I managed this – and with some degree of aplomb, I might add – I did rather embarrassingly ask a member of staff from a well-known fast food establishment whether or not she served ‘chicken bits’.** You might also remember that at ESOF 2012 in Dublin
, my woeful sense of direction necessitated the guidance of a kindly Garda. As I said, I don’t travel well.
Imagine then my trepidation yesterday morning when I awoke to the realisation that the time had come for me to visit the Czech Republic unassisted.*** I wasn’t even confident that I could make it to the airport in one piece. Nevertheless, I took the plunge. I drove to Manchester, deposited my luggage, sailed through security and purchased a BLT. Everything was going swimmingly. I then noticed that one of the handy blue screens that they have dotted around the place was telling me that my 16:00 flight would be departing at 17:00. ‘Shame’, I thought. ‘That takes an hour out of the time that I have set aside for pootling around Prague and eating goulash. Still, it’s only an hour.’
17:00, it transpired, was a laughably optimistic prediction. Our original plane had a technical fault meaning that I had to await the arrival of a second plane to rescue me from the nightmarish spiral of Irn Bru and Tangfastics that my life had become. I do appreciate that this was nobody’s fault. God knows that I would have been the first to whinge if one of the wings had fallen off mid-flight. It was just an unfortunate set of circumstances. I would, however, like to dish out a whole heap of blame onto young hoodlums who decided to spend their
delay getting hammered in the airport bar. Presumably, they thought that the day was going too smoothly and that it would benefit from them being so loud, discourteous and obnoxious, that a member of the cabin crew would have to record all of their passport details as we passed over Hamburg. I would also like to thank the eejit who succeeded in being late for an already ridiculously late plane. As you can imagine, the extra 30 minutes spent waiting for him to show his face made the journey all the more palatable for all those onboard.
In the end, I neither pootled nor ate goulash. Instead, I checked into my hotel room at 00:27 and set the alarm that would wake me four-and-a-half hours later. Still, that’s life.
Amusingly,**** I should never have journeyed to Prague in the first place. This was Katy Edgington
's expedition. Unfortunately, she has only recently recovered from a bout of glandular fever. Call me a cynic, but I’m starting to suspect that this was in fact a bout of dreadful foreboding.
At least none of my misfortune has been self-imposed. There is still plenty of time for that, however. I’m just about to head back to Manchester. Wish me luck…
* I’m similar to ice cream in this respect
** I would try to explain myself, but what’s the use?
*** Sir Ranulph Fiennes’s ambitions pale in comparison
**** In the sense that Jeremy Kyle is amusing
P.S. I did indeed return safely on Friday night. My EADV 2012 feature will be uploaded shortly.