Well, here I am at Heathrow Airport having arrived SIX HOURS early for my flight. The Fat Kid was dropping me off and I didn't want to risk the chance of getting stuck in traffic. So after a hearty cooked brunch and dropping the Vin Man at his new school we climbed into the Ford Fiesta and set off. Well, that was after checking her oil and realising that the engine had been lubricated with fresh air for the last few days.
Leaving at 2pm for a 10pm flight might seem a bit over cautious, although I'm sure Shutts would have departed the previous evening. Still, the M25 was clear, unbelievably, and we arrived at Heathrow at 4.
With all the new construction work, though, it took another hour to find the departure lounge from the short stay car park, having taken a number of wrong turns, got into an ascending lift which managed to take us up to the top floor of the car park, and then attempting walking from the ground floor - not a good idea.
When I checked in for this trip of a lifetime to the Ashes the girl on the Emirates desk looked a bit shocked. "You are taking the last flight," she said. "You seem to be a little early." Yeh, six hours.
I think everything's in place now after a hectic weekend with the Fat Kid.
Saturday involved a night out at the aptly named Mayhem club in Southend on Sea - Chav central as I now call it. Scantily dressed women and young cropped hair blokes who all fancied themselves as Essex Boys. I went out with the Fat Kid and some of her mates. That was a real experience. Having hoped to be in the pub by 8 it actually involved visiting one girl's bedsit after another, drinking a large quantity of wine and finally stumbling into town at 10. The rest of the night seemed to be a series of arguments about where we should actually go.
Mayhem was, to put in bluntly, Mayhem. And within 20 minutes, having been left to look after her coat while she went to the toilet, I lost the Fat Kid. An hour and a half later, having sat in the same seat, with the same beer, and made a dangerous trip around the club, I lost all hope of finding her. Leaving the club there were seven unanswered messages on the Mobile. "I went out to make a phone call and the bouncers wouldn't let me back in. I am now at home in bed."
Thanks, Fat Kid, my trip to Southend has been memorable.
Sunday I met up with Evans who lives in Leigh on Sea, not too far from Southend - some, though not Evans, would actually say it's a suburb of Southend.
We had a few drinks in the Sarah Moore pub and then convinced ourselves we should have a go at the pub quiz, which had attracted a massive turnout of locals.
We didn't do too badly, it must be said, seeing that Evans had not returned home from seeing Zane Lowe in Colchester until 5am that morning and I had partaken of the Mayhem experience.
Decided to call our team the Barmy Army and did pretty well in the opening rounds - TV we were pretty good, Sport was excellent (of course) and General Knowledge proved easier than expected.
Then it was on to our "joker" round, Films, and we managed a staggering 91/2 out of 10. A good last round and we were in with a chance.
It just happened to be the opening lines of songs and you had to guess the artist and the song.
Evans persuaded me she would thrive in this, but the previous night had obviously taken its toll. We were poor.
It didn't help when she suggested she would have done much better if they had played a bit of the song. Seemed to defeat the whole object of the quiz, I felt.