An easyJet plane, just sitting on the runway

I was all set to go to Bristol this weekend – full of enthusiasm for the Bristol Improv Festival, and newly inspired about the material I was about to teach, and to see some UK-based friends, many of whom I hadn’t seen in a while. Plus make a little money and do a little travel. It really was set up rather perfectly.

But it wasn’t just the planning that was well done; I executed my part well – woke up early, got through security at Schiphol about 45 minutes before the flight was due to take off, feeling well rested and caffeinated. Things were looking good. Even when they boarded us onto the plane about 15 minutes late, I wasn’t worried. I should’ve been, but I didn’t know it yet.

The flight I booked was set to land at 10.05, and my workshop was starting at 12.30. The trip from Bristol airport to Bristol is about half an hour, the bus station is a seven minute walk from where the workshops were being held. Fifteen minutes wouldn’t throw my schedule off – I had very wisely put a healthy cushion between me and travel issues.

Then that fifteen minutes became half an hour, then an hour.

Apparently there was a bit of a technical problem with one of the engines. I was torn – when preparing to hurtle through the stratosphere in a massive steel tube there’s no such thing as a ‘bit of a technical problem’ – it’s like pregnancy – you either are or you are not.

So, although I really wanted to get going, I also didn’t want to fly in a plane with technical problems. So I endured the runway repairs with as much equanimity as I could muster. Besides, the workshop I was going to teach was called ‘Taking it Easy’, so it was important for me to be graceful as these delays waylaid me.

But when that hour became two of sitting on the runway I was practically shouting at the pilot: “ROLL THE DICE YOU FUCKING PUSSY! LET’S GOOOOOOOO!”

Naturally this was in my head. On the outside I was quietly sending frantic texts and emails to the festival organiser, keeping him up to date on my mental arithmetic: well, I should be an hour late, can we start my workshop at 13.30?

No wait, can someone pick me up? We should be leaving any second, so I’ll only be 45 minutes late. All the time I was rocking in my seat.

It’s really great when planes take-off. 

When they eventually kicked us off the plane, I went from desperate to resigned. And then depressed.

Even the 10 food vouchers they provided us with didn’t help. Their back-up plan was to fly a plane out from Berlin to pick us up and take us to Bristol seemed like it wasn’t going to do much but eat up a lot more time.

But still I maintained some glimmer of hope: I could go and still see the fest, check out the evening shows, see the friends, and maybe do the workshop tomorrow, or something? It seemed like a perfectly reasonable idea to me.

Finally, after about five hours at Schiphol I managed to talk to Andy in Bristol. We agreed that maybe it just wasn’t meant to be this time. Perhaps it should’ve been apparent to me earlier, but I am far too great a rationaliser for that to have sunk in so easily.

Regardless, I’ll be at next year’s fest, and hopefully I can get out to Bristol for a weekend intensive in the meantime.

Comforted by the thought I spent my food vouchers on a very cheap meal and a very expensive coffee and came home.

And my Saturday evening turned out much better than my Saturday morning. Chiara was happy to see me return home much earlier than expected. We had Thai food and watched Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.

The stakes for the MI team were higher, but on Saturday morning I knew just how Ethan Hunt felt; sometimes things just aren’t going your way, no matter how well you prepare. Unfortunately, I lacked the tech, expertise, and crack team of highly-trained specialists to help me achieve my mission.

Note: I wrote an email to easyJet requesting a refund. And according to the reply from customer service, it’s already been done.

So I can spend that on my next flight to Bristol.