(Editor’s note – this week, to conclude out Munich series that has had tongue wagging across western civilisation, I hand over the keys of my precious website to m’colleague and faithful Passepar-two Simon. All of what follows is his unique slant on the increasingly strange events of our last day of the trip. The management cannot be held responsible for the drivel that follows.)
I think this can just be told straight:-
Before we left our room, Neil mixed two rocket-fuelled bottles of screwdriver after somewhat surprisingly buying a bottle of vodka the night before at the train station. These were ostensibly to keep us refreshed on our journey to the airport and give me something to wash down the anti-anxiety drugs Neil was to sell me for the flight.
The context of our trip to the airport is that we had left things a little tight. This was because we had decided to meet back up in the Hofbrauhaus following two separate cultural trips that morning to witness historic examples of the dreadfulness of man’s inhumanity to man (me – Dachau; Neil – an ‘Irish’ pub to watch the Lions). I think Neil’s experience was followed by a period of soul-searching in another beer garden.
(Editor’s note – Simon is making it sound like I was drowning my sorrows by drinking on my own in a foreign beer garden at 11am. It was in fact a joyously life-affirming stroll through the Englischer Garten, past surfing (yes, really), swimming, sunbathing, cycling and running Muncheners to the Restaurant und Biergarten am Chinesischen Turm, where I settled a while as the acres of green tables and benches gradually filled and was reminded, as the oompah band struck up and the sun threw dappled shadows onto people buying grilled mackerels and half roast chickens and drinking beer and chatting and laughing, of what an open, inclusive and embracing country Germany is.)
One stein turned into two – as they do – which meant opting for a time-saving taxi-ride back to the hotel to collect our bags. Contrary to expectations, this taxi-ride seemed to take twice as long as any walk we remembered. We didn’t even reach the hotel and had to abandon the taxi. Neil then decided to play a game whilst hotfooting it back to the hotel where he would shout out “Michael!” to an imaginary friend across the street; this wasn’t as funny as he found it.
It wasn’t long though before we were sat on the train platform like a couple of winos chugging from our orange juice bottles. During this time Neil was unable to check-in online via my phone. His phone was dangerously low on battery. After having a go myself and succeeding I narrowed his failures down to him transposing the figures on his passport expiry date – which Neil susprisingly accepted as being perfectly plausible at that stage of proceedings.
By the time we arrived at the airport we needed things to go without a hitch. Neil’s phone then ran out of battery meaning he could not access the Boarding Pass. I printed his and handed it to him. He then had to leg it to the toilets and I finished the potent screwdrivers before we tackled security.
I breezed through it only to look back and see Neil going through his pockets comedy-style and looking flustered. He eventually shouted “have you got my boarding pass?”. I hadn’t. Security then, unaccountably, indulged Neil’s idea of charging his phone as a quicker method to rediscover the boarding pass than going back to check in to print another one.
(Editors note – I know I said I would hand over to Simon to tell it in his own words but I cannot let these scurrilous accusations pass. The exact disappearance of the boarding pass remains a matter of some debate and indeed may form the basis of a future episode of CSI Munich.)
A watched pot never boils – a phone never charges quickly enough. We had just minutes to board so security then simply waved Neil through. I can only assume they’d had enough of the clown as he was holding everyone else up. The next spanner in the works was Passport Control. This time Neil sailed through the no-queue passport (which remarkably he hadn’t yet lost) scanning process whilst my freshly minted one did not.
This entailed a return to the maddening slow main queue where every second I was mentally writing off the flight. When I did get through, expecting Neil to be waiting the other side – he was nowhere to be seen. I then heard my name being announced as a last-call. This triggered me to start running with my case only to induce a comedy trip-up. Fortunately the gate was nearby where I found Neil who had honourably decided to go without me if needs be. Unbelievably people seemed to be boarding after me!
Being a taker of “white knuckle flights” I did appreciate the droll commentary from the flight deck on little points like “that bump was us going through a jet wash from another plane” and “it gets a little bumpy going into clouds due to the changes in pressure”. Less appreciated was the captain’s announcement deep into the flight “Ladies and Gentlemen, we are losing altitude”. Before I had time to scream or knock myself out on the seat in front of me, he added “….we have to do that in order to land this plane in 20 minutes”. Who said the krauts don’t have a sense of humour?
This whole experience culminated in us having a farewell drink at Heathrow. In a fitting finale to the trip, in getting up to leave Neil dropped the bag of recently purchased gin for his very understanding wife onto the hard tile floor. The bag became a homemade gin-watering can. Had Neil not been under pressure from his taxi-driver (whom he had fibbed to about landing time) I fully expected him to instruct me to put two glasses under the flow and then get some tonics, ice and lemon.