So, we’re on tour in Europe. It’s october 2009; Sweethead, all of their luggage (that’s a different story for another time), Robbie the van driver (replacing Ben for a few days), and me, cruising Europe from venue & hotel to venue & hotel, supporting the Eagles Of Death Metal, in a van.
Going into the last bit of the tour, leaving the European continent, to conquer the UK.
Because of the UK leg of the tour being filled with promo and press, Serrina and Troy had opted for staying in Holland in a hotel overnight and then fly to London in the morning, where we’d (after driving and ferry-ing overnight) pick them up, and continue to Oxford.
We do the show in 013, Tilburg, drop Troy and Serrina at the hotel, and get on our way.
Easily said, easily done.
Or wait… Hold on…
Just as we (Robbie and me, and the blissfully unaware Eddie and Norm crashed on the seats behind us) got off the ferry in Dover (I think it was about 5 or 6am at that point), the phone rings…. Troy on the phone.
That’s not a time of the day you want your phone to ring if you’re a tour manager. The always-applicable quote of the touring industry “what could possibly go wrong?” flashes in front of me.
Well, this is what went wrong!
Serrina had left the small wheeled trolley bag on the van, being sure she’d not need anything from it until she’d be in the venue again next day.
Guess what?!?! Her passport was also in that bag, and (until further notice) flying from Holland to the UK (even more so for US citizens), still requires passengers to show passports.
We pull over to the side of the road, check the trolley bag, and yes, there’s the passport. So they are in Holland, and we are in the UK, and they fly in about 6 hours.
The gears upstairs start whirring in slightly faster mode (please note, sleeping in the van was not an option, even less so on overnight trips), and this is what the machine came up with:
* Drive from Dover to London Heathrow asap, check with airlines if anyone flies LHR-AMS-LHR within the timeframe we’d need them to.
* Get on plane to Holland with passport
* Hand over passport
* Get all of us on plane to England
* Drive with full travel party to Oxford as if nothing ever happened
Easier said than done, but first two hurdles being taken effortlessly; Robbie engaging his lead foot, while I tried to go for a record attempt of stacking roaming costs.
Booked the following itinerary (spending a few handfuls of miles)
LHR 10.00 – 12.30 AMS / AMS 13.25 – 13.50 LHR
(would match perfectly with their AMS 13.55 – 14.15 LHR)
Robbie dropped me at Heathrow, I actually had time to chill in the lounge for a bit, and it’s boarding time… “sorry, we’ll be departing in a little while”… and tick, tock, tick, tock, there goes the time…
Instead of 10.00, we actually took off at 10.58, cutting my turn-around time in Amsterdam short from 55 between arrival and departure to about negative 3 minutes… (not even taking in consideration boarding closing 10 minutes earlier).
All I could hope for was that the plane I flew in on, would be the same flying out, otherwise I’d be very, very, very royally funked.
Whoever sits up or down there, must’ve noticed this ‘minor flaw’ in the plans made, so a shortcut between London and Amsterdam was opened, making the plane land only 16 minutes late, after a 58 minutes late departure.
Still, I’d only have between 12.46 (when the plane landed), and 13.15 (when boarding of the return flight would close), to taxi to the gate, get off the plane, go through security, drop the passports, go back through security, and get back to the plane.
As soon as I landed, I was on the phone, to brief them on exactly that. I told them the following: “go to desk row 7, wait for me next to the flower pot for me to come flashing past, I will not stop, but actually throw the passport in your direction, and run back to the plane, and hope I’ll be back there in time.”
Said, and done like that. And funnily enough, I actually had time enough to have a very unexpected discussion with the gate staff to convince them put me back on the plane, since boarding was still open, and I was at the gate, where they had already decided to take me off the flight, due to the unlikelihood of me actually making it on that flight in the first place.
Back on the plane, punctual departure this time, and time for me to lean back, put on my iPod, and go plot my plan to take over the world, seeing that I had pulled off this outrageous plan already as well.
Upon arrival back in London, I of course had to tell Robbie, Eddie and Norm about the craziest trip, and then we drove off from terminal 4 to terminal 1, where I would attempt to lean against one of the columns in the arrivals hall in the most casual way humanly possible, awaiting Troy’s and Serrina’s arrival.
A little later, I see them arrive, and as soon as they spot me, they kneel down, and bow down towards me, gifting me an extra large box of Lindor chocolates.
Oxford, here we come! 🙂