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Mike Randle


Day 43 Travel To London From Florence
March 19, 2004

Woke up with the clang-clang noises from scores of teenagers that had invaded our hotel last night. The clock said 9.30am, Chapple went down for breakfast but I pulled to covers over me and stole twenty minutes shut-eye. When Chapple got back, it was decided he’d shower first and so I took the opportunity to do some writing in my Journal (of which I write several pages a day and use as notes for Diaries). So there I sat on the edge of my bed in a t-shirt and boxers when an Italian maid barged in (why always me?), said ‘Excuse Me’ and then disappeared. After I showered I packed my light bag (over bigger suitcases were on the bus in Calais, France) and checked out of the hotel. We taxi’d to the train station and caught a comfy Eurostar train to the Bologna train station. I slept for a portion of the 45 minute ride. The Singer was sat next to me and kept offering me candy but I declined each time as I don’t eat candy much. From the Bologna station we took a 20 min. shuttle to the Bologna Airport then we had lunch, went through customs and then decided it was ‘Millertime’ and we all had a beer each. Boarded plane at 4pm. Set to arrive (God willing) in London, Stansted, at 6pm. I checked in my hand-bag and remembered I’d bought a bottle of ‘Chiani Classico’. Something to look forward to I thought.

So I napped a bit and then was woken by the steward asking if I wanted tea. I did want tea (w/milk) and said as much before being hit with the £1.60 levee and, of course, I only had a visa card and, of course, there is a £5.00 minimum charge to use it. Then a stewardess shouts (from five rows up) ‘Ask your friend in 23A, he’s got loads of money.’ That was a cunning reference to the SINGER! And he did the gentlemanly thing and squared the bill for me and I got to have a nice cuppa tea. And then, as I slipped away, I pondered what life must be like for a steward. Can it be much different from mine? Or yours? They must get to fly all over, for nothing (or next to nothing) and it must be difficult to maintain healthy relationships. I was itching to ask oodles of questions and then thought the better of it. And then changed my mind. And then changed it back. The only steward I’ve ever known, my cousin, Tony Hales, is now studying to be a Minister of the church. And then I thought about something he said to me at my Aunt Martha’s funeral last year. We sat talking about life and religion and then he started talking about miracles and how saints had to perform one to be a saint. Tony looked me over and he has that about him, how he can melt all bad feelings by just staring at them – and said ‘If you can spend the rest of your life and be true to one woman, you’ve already performed a miracle’’ With that two sweet stewardesses came by with duty-free junk. I can’t imagine anyone spending a red-cent on that crap but they do don’t they? They must. Well, I may think it’s junk but it really is in the eye of the beholder, innit? And, no matter how we figure it, whether it be lives or duty-free cologne, our perceptions is all that matters. What I see and what you see may well be two different pictures of the same thing. And, we would both be correct. Ok, so I’ll stop digging deep and fill out my landing card. You think I’m gonna have a pint at the hotel bar? You jolly well know it, to quote Robin Cook.

Woke up just before we landed, which was around 6pm. Got our stuff and taxi’d to the Stansted Manor. We immediately ordered pints and then chilled in the lounge. We were hungry so Daddyo and Chapple ordered fish and chips and I had a rump steak w/onions and mushrooms. The grub was spot on and we were nearly done when Rusty and Kose showed up. They checked in, got pints and ordered themselves dinner.

I went to my room for any hour to watch ‘Eastenders’ and then ‘Coronation Street’ and then I went back to the bar and we sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Daddyo (It’s actually tomorrow) and then everyone went to bed except Kose and myself as we’d made two new friends in Andy and Steve, two Man. City fans. I reluctantly admitted to them I was a Man Utd fan! So Steve bought us a round of lager and then I bought the next round but Steve only wanted a halfer and Andy preferred Strongbow in the bottle. I finished my pint and bid our farewells and hit the hay about 2am.

Mike Randle


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