It all started at 4:15 am when the dreaded alarm went off to wake me up ahead of my work trip to Madrid. I was in my own little world as usual when staggering out of bed, but had to get a move on as the taxi was coming at 5:00 am to take me to Gatwick Airport.
For the past few days my mother and father have been providing hourly weather forecasts – a sign of old age if you ask me – and constantly telling me to be careful in the thick snow. If I had a pound for the amount of times they told me how much the snow will disrupt things and how dangerous and slippery it will be outside I would be a very rich man. To be honest I was sick and tired of hearing about the flaming snow, which had yet to reach London. I even went as far as suggesting that the various advanced weather warnings were over exaggerated and that the so-called snow would never materialise.
How wrong can one be? When I opened the curtains and looked outside I soon realised what all the fuss was about. There was thick snow.
The taxi arrived bang on queue and after a quick stop at the cash point – why the heck I didn’t get cash the night before is beyond me – we were on our way. It was all going well until we hit the dreaded M25 which is bad enough in terms of traffic without snow and ice to complicate matters. Lo and behold we were soon at a stand-still which prompted me to look at my watch and panic about missing my flight.
I then proceeded to check the status of my EasyJet flight on my phone – Oh the joy of Blackberry handsets – only to discover my flight had been cancelled. There wasn’t even time to curse under my breath or out loud like I usually do in times of stress before I received a call from the trip coordinator ensuring I was aware of the cancellation.
The coordinator wasted little time transferring my booking to the next flight bound for Madrid due to take off at 9:30 am. Meanwhile the taxi was still at a stand-still on the M25, but at least I did not have to keep glancing at my watch every five seconds as there was plenty of time before my new flight.
Thirty uneventful minutes passed. We were making slow progress on the M25 so I took the opportunity to check my phone to make sure my new flight was on schedule. Guess what? It was cancelled, which made me extremely angry as the possibility was beginning to dawn on me that I had got up at stupid o’clock for no reason.
There was one last hope. A call from the coordinator revealed there was a flight departing from London City Airport to Madrid which was also due to take off at 9:30 am and still had availability. All I had to do was somehow make it to London City Airport in good time.
After more than 2 hours of crawling traffic in icy conditions I eventually arrived at Gatwick by which point I wasn’t in the best of moods to say the least. I quickly took the shuttle to the North terminal where the train station is located to see if there was any possibility of commuting to London City Airport. Any hopes were dashed in a matter of minutes when it became clear there were no arriving or departing trains from the station due to adverse weather conditions. Not only was I unable to reach London City Airport it turned out I was stranded at the airport indefinitely.
If I wasn’t in the best of moods on arrival it would suffice to say I was in a vile one following this latest development. All I could do was phone the coordinator, inform her of the news and sit on my fat bottom until the trains started up again.
The seconds, minutes and hours passed before eventually at around 12:00 pm, after a full English breakfast, I was able to board a train for East Croydon. It wasn’t long before I reached the office where I had the opportunity to at least spend a few hours being productive.
I will leave you with some final thoughts. In 2012 London will host the Olympic Games and one thing is certain. The organisation will need to be much better than it has been over the past few days which have seen abandoned vehicles, traffic at a stand-still, trains cancelled, flights grounded, passengers sleeping at airports and people in general at their wits end all because of some lousy snow. England may not be used to regular snowfalls but perhaps the authorities should seek advice from their Russian and American counterparts which do a much better job than us in these sort of situations and not just because they are used to them.
Tomorrow we discover if England has been successful in its bid to host the 2018 World Cup. If the verdict goes our way, at least we have a good few years to get things right. The London Olympics, however, are less than two years away and at the moment I am finding myself questioning our ability to organise a piss up in a brewery let alone a world sporting extravaganza.