Sunday, August 07, 2011

how we got here

I'm not sure how to describe today accurately, except to say it turned out completely different than I expected and that I was, in the end, ok with that.

No doubt you've heard about the riots in London. If so, you probably know more than we did. In retrospect, the late taxis and the stalled trains were sort of a tip-off that something was up; but we live in Kensington, which is not really a hotbed for looting. I did see a giant group mob a Kensington KFC once, but they were my students. Just super hungry. Anyway, this rioting happened overnight. It started as a response to some police shooting following a soccer match, but that excuse lasted about 10 minutes and then it became about breaking into store windows to steal Wii systems and ipads. Pretty pathetic. And, like I say, we didn't see or hear any of it. So we're safe. Unfortunately, however, all of these delays added up, making us about 3 minutes late to check in for our flight to Edinburgh.

So that's a challenge. 15 people, flying as a group, stranded at Gatwick. Best laid plans, right? So here's what happened next:

1. The BA ticket agent was awesome. It took him an hour (literally) but he got us all new flights. The only problem is that they were...

2. In four separate travel groups

3. Flying out of a different airport (Heathrow)

4. Flying into Glasgow, not Edinburgh.

5. We got everyone back into riotous, burning London by the Gatwick Express, then to Heathrow terminal 5 by the Tube.

5.5 I'm exaggerating. We didn't see any riots or burning.

6. We split into four groups. Each group left about two hours after the last one.

7. Our plane to Glasgow was delayed two hours, but it gave me plenty of time to watch Donatella Versace clomp around the airport. (Yes, really her. TERRIFYING. I kept hoping it was Maya Rudolph.)

8. After landing, we took a bus to the Glasgow train station. We ate at Burger King there, which is punishment enough.

9. We took a train from Glasgow to Edinburgh. It was beautiful - lots of heather (the plant)

10. We took cabs from the station to the hotel in Edinburgh.

10.5 We crashed upon arrival.

This should have been incredibly stressful, and it started out that way, but this group of students are so positive and delightful that it actually turned out to be fun in some ways. They played games and joked and napped and I didn't hear a single complaint - NOT A SINGLE COMPLAINT - the entire day. I was impressed and so grateful. It's not easy moving a group from place to place, and whining never helps. When everyone stays chipper and works as a team, well, that's awesome. And now we're in Edinburgh for the week - even more awesome! I love this place. So excited to see our show at the Fringe Festival.

Side note, which isn't really a side note and may be the best thing that happened all day. Robbie Coltrane, who plays Hagrid in the Harry Potter movies, was on our flight. We thought he looked really grouchy, so nobody approached him. While waiting for luggage in Glasgow I could see him watching us interact and joke, and eventually he came over and stood right next to us. Then, he casually asked Josh if he could see his guitar. He told us he'd been taking lessons. Josh obliged, and then, at Robbie's request, sang him a song he wrote! It was such a thrill. Singing for Hagrid in the middle of the baggage claim. He couldn't have been friendlier.