When I was a child, on Christmas Eve, it was impossible for me to sleep through excitement. I put my mum and dad through years of insomnia by waking at 2-3 o’clock in the morning, even when Santa no longer existed in my mind. My younger sister, who could sleep on a clothes line, and still believed in Santa, was my excuse to carry in getting up at lunchtime Saturday. Last night was like Christmas Eve. I woke on the hour every hour. My mind was racing all night, although I wasn’t necessarily thinking about my big trip. I was glad when it was finally dawn, but the thought of two nights without sleep is more than daunting.
I packed my bags. They seemed heavy, so I took out a sweat shirt and 4 tee-shirts. That’ll do it. It didn’t though as I had to drag my bags onto the platform and then the train, and then again at St. Pancras. I wanted to take a picture of the Olympic rings by the clock at St Pancras. The surrounds of the clock face were made in Swadlincote. Civic pride for Swaddies. Of course it was Burton money that helped pay for the station (Michael Bass, Baron Burton). He needed to get his beer down to the London and export markets. The airport style shops are exactly 3 barrels wide. (Burton trumps Swad again).
At the airport I checked in my bag. It weighed 25kg. ‘Aah,’ I said to the check in girl, ‘I’m really sorry, I’ve tried ever so hard to pack light. (21kg). ‘Don’t worry’, she replied, ‘it will be your toiletries and you’ll have used them all by the way home.’ (nothing to do with the 4 pint bottles of beer I packed for my new rugby friend.) I hope they make it. (PS – they did).
I expected to see loads of English fans at Heathrow, but they were outnumbered by the French, with a smattering of Irish. When I sat down on the plane, I was surrounded by Frenchies. I got my book out to read:’1000 years of annoying the French’ by Stephen Clarke. I’d have felt more comfortable reading if it had been wrapped in btown paper cover. They reaped their revenge, however, as close by were 2 French props who smelt of BO getting on the plane, so by the time they got off, they would have made flowers wilt.
I got my first taste of New Zealand rugby fever. The flight safety video featured the All Blacks. Ritchie McCaw was the captain flying the plane with Graham Henry co-pilot. When he walked past an Air Stewardess, she reached for the Oxygen masks. Dan Carter demonstrated the Brace position (steady ladies). The Coffee had All Black players on the cups, the water bottles at the airport had All Black shirt numbers on, (I had no. 10) and crisps on the short flight at the end, a ‘Crazy for Rugby’ logo with a catch phrase: ‘you can TRY, but you’ll never CHIP further for the line’ printed on the bag, In the Sports section of the ‘In flight’ entertainment had 29 programmes, 50% of which were rugby related.
Determined to get into the New Zealand mood, I listened to Liam Finn – the lesser known brother of Neil Finn, both members of Crowded House. ‘Chase the seasons’ was one of the songs on the featured album in the music section. From autumn, through summer (Hong Kong) to spring in 24 hours.