Sunday, August 28, 2005

Melbourne to Glasgow

Thurs 25th - Fri 26th August

Never one to do things by halves, I decided to combine two of the most stressful things imaginable on the one day: my most important radio program of the year and my first ever international flight.

First off was my Radiothon show for 3RRR. For 10 days RRR announcers badger, beg and sweet-talk our listeners into pledging a subscription to the station. As RRR receives no government funding, and we're not a commercial broadcaster, we rely on listener support for 50% of our annual income. The irony of course is that you don't need to pay to listen to the radio, but bless their little cotton socks, RRR listeners enjoy showing their support for the station by subscribing in droves.

This being my first Radiothon for 'SmartArts' I had no idea how many subscribers I'd get; as it turns out I got heaps. About 126 people subscribed during my three hours, which was a delightful result, and created happy smiles around the station. Many thanks to you if you were one of my subscribers.

Then it was home to finish packing, and out to the airport...

I'd packed my backpack the night before, overseen and guided by my dear friend Martin Liedke, who has considerable experience in these things; certainly far more than me, the travel virgin. I still got flustered and a little panicked on Thursday arvo, stuffing the last few bits and pieces into my cabin luggage, but I eventually got everything done, and out to the airport just after 5.30 to check in for my flight, on Emirates, which flew out at 7.30pm.

In brief, because plane trips are pretty boring at the best of times, we flew 9 hours to Singapore where we stopped for an hour (I wandered around the airport at 2am and treated myself to a vodka, lime and soda for $12.30). The next leg was 7 hours to Dubai, where we arrived at 6am local time. Huge, strange airport and duty free mall. Then onto a new plane for the final leg of the journey, 12 hours to Glasgow. Phew.

We got into Glasgow half an hour late, as we'd been held up in Dubai waiting for some lads on a late connecting flight; when we landed we were kept on the plane for another half hour or so, as one of them had got sick. Once the doctor arrived and told us all it wasn't some virulent contagion, we were allowed off the plane: customs was a doddle (had I stupidly decided to smuggle drugs into Scotland it would have been easy!)

So after passing through customs lugging my bags, out I stroll, expecting to be met by Bec & Bob - and they weren't there!

At this point I had a slightly sinking feeling in my stomach as I realise that I don't actually have their phone numbers or address on me - they're on the coffee table back in Melbourne!

Just as I was wondering what to do I was paged, and once I found the airport information desk I found Bec and Bob waiting for me as well.

Crisis averted: Glasgow awaits.

Bearing in mind that I've only had about six hours sleep in about 36 hours at this point, I was feeling surprising good, and was very chatty as we drove into the city. Bec pointed out my first group of Neds - local hooligans resplendent in tracksuits and trainers, one of whom had his hand stuffed down the front of his boxers having a grand old scratch: such public displays are, I'm told, the visual equivilent of territorial pissing to mark territory and display macho prowess.

To learn more about neds, aka scallys, chavs or charvers, go here and tremble in fear: - and yes, that's a picture of a couple of neds, one of them even scratching, up at the top of this page...

After a kilt fitting literally within half an hour of arriving in Glasgow, and then an hour or so relaxing at Bec and Bob's flat in a beautiful Georgian Terrace in Minerva Street, it was off to Edinburgh for the hen's night. This became something of a highly amusing farce, as the plan was a 40 minute train trip followed by dinner and a show at the Fringe, but due to signal box failures on the Edinburgh line, our train ended up going to Edinburgh via Perth - a round trip of about two hours, 20 minutes! Still, I got to see some stunning scenery, including a couple of castles, and flirted outrageously with the young lad serving refreshments from a trolley: he seemed to be flirting back, although he might just have been trying to be nice to a tourist - I'll just have to see if he sends me an e-mail...

We were in Edinburgh the same night as the Military Tattoo, and after relocating to a pub for a quick dinner and several drinks, we watched hundreds of soliders stroll past at the end of the tattoo. A grand view: so many handsome lads in kilts!

It was at this point, about 1am, that I started to hit a wall, so it was off to the bus-stop and home to Glasgow (I think I slept the whole way) with Nerida, a fellow Aussie friend of Bec's, and Bob's sister Eleanor. Bob's buck's night drinks were still in progress when I got back to Minerva Street, so I stayed up for another hour of drunken conversation, then eventually crashed...

Talk about an eventful 48 hours!

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