Edinburgh is easy. Getting to Edinburgh is difficult.
We booked a private cab to pick us up from Battersea Arts Centre, where we’ve been staying, and take us to Luton Airport for our 6:15pm flight to Edinburgh. Being old hands at touring now, we thought it wise to leave three hours to get to the airport. Plenty of time. Enough to play Daytona in the departure lounge, have a vodka orange and stare at the tarmac. 2:30pm was our pick up time. 2:40 was the time I get the first call from Sharma, owner of Airportcar.co.uk. He tells me our driver is running late and will be there in twenty minutes. No problem, this is why we left heaps of time. Forty minutes later I get a call from Yassif the driver, telling us he can’t find Battersea Arts Centre, a huge building in the middle of Lavender Hill, even though he has sat nav. An alarm bell rings in my brain, which I decide to ignore out of denial of the creeping panic. When he finally shows up, an hour late, he proceeds to be rear-ended before our eyes, break the passenger door handle off while opening it and reverse into a post box as we drive away. We get about ten minutes down the road and the car stalls once, twice, and stops.
“What’s wrong with the car mate?”
“I think the air conditioning is breaking the engine.”
“How about turning it off then?”
We’re away. Yassif then proceeds to get us so lost in London, that thirty more stalls and another hour later we are still in Hammersmith – broken down and unable to ignore those bells any longer. Yassif calls Sharma back at Airportcar.co.uk
“My boss doesn’t believe me.” I grab the phone.
“Sharma mate, your car’s fucked.”
The bells go quiet it dawns on me, we’re gonna have to ditch Yassif and find another cab. Oh to have realised that when he couldn’t find us back at Battersea, or park the car, or drive.
It’s all systems go and the six of us start working like marines. Alice is trying to get some money out of Sharma. Glen is on the street looking for cabs. Tom is pulling our luggage out. We get through to another cab company and amazingly, our hero pulls up within five minutes and starts jamming us all into his six seater.
“Sir, I don’t think your luggage will fit.”
“Oh it’ll fit. Now drive like the wind my friend. To Luton!”
He hits the motorway and we’re flying. But so is the clock. We’re down to the minute now, but we can still make it. We’re exhilarated. Luton! Jof was a sprinter in high school so he is delegated to run from the car to the check-in and stall them. The rest of us gather the luggage and hobble-run to the gate. We see Jof. He walks toward us slowly, his head in his hands. We have missed check-in by one minute.
Six tickets on the next flight, please, we say to Barbara at the Easyjet desk.
“There are no more flights to Edinburgh I’m afraid,” she says. I am sure she has been sent by the devil to orchestrate this entire clusterfuck. Then a legend at the next desk leans over.
“Yes there are Barbara. And there are six more seats left.”
We arrive in Edinburgh, and get a cab to our accommodation. It’s 10.30pm. And there’s a light on in there. And the sound of a television. There are people living in the apartment.
But that’s another blog.
The Suitcase Royale: Zonbatland is at the Pleasance Courtyard from 3-28 Aug, 11.10pm