The thing is, when you're going to spend one night at Claridge's, you want to make the most of the experience. We had intended staying awake all night, so as not to miss a minute of it, but by midnight, this old chook was all done in – and decided that sleeping in the lovely, monstrous Claridge's bed was an integral part of the Claridge's experience. I took my champagne-soaked brain and exhausted bones to bed, and was quite correct - it was divine!
Thelma lasted a few hours longer.
Of course, there is a direct correlation between tiredness levels and brain deadness levels. Hold that thought.
A massive repack of suitcases for the journey home was in order before our car arrived and we were once again whisked through the revolving door into the morning chaos of London – in the nicest possible way.
Our driver was a cheery sort who got us to Heathrow in plenty of time, and that was when the 'fun' began.
Remember that tiredness/brain deadness correlation? It's the only explanation I have for the 'Oops' moments that followed. We checked in our baggage at the Qantas counter, and just before Thelma's was trundled away she realised she needed to retrieve it to do yet another repack. It was kind of funny in a cheek-burning way, as she burrowed through piles of dirty laundry and carry-on luggage right there at the check-in counter to remove bottles of perfume, cosmetics, deodorant etc – in other words, lots of LAGs stuff – from her carry-on luggage, and transferred it all to the giant suitcase.
I hopped from foot to foot and looked apologetic as the check-in queue grew longer behind us, and finally the giant suitcase – now even heavier – was checked in again. We shuffled away to the next disaster – security screening.
At Heathrow you practically have to unpack your carry-on luggage and undress, to get through screening. How embarrassment. Off came the stinky shoes, the hat, the jacket. Out of the bag came the laptop and the smug little LAGs bag. I chucked my shoulder bag into the box as well, and walked through the scanner to collect my stuff.
Getting dressed again on the other side, I realised my shoulder bag hadn't reappeared. Shit – my wallet! My Camera! My fab mobile phone! I dashed to the screening counter to ask for it, just as a stern-faced screener lady appeared with my bag in hand. My relief suddenly turned to horror as she said “Right, let's have a look in here then, shall we?”
How embarrassment again! “Ah, this is the problem'” she said, pulling the can of Red Bull from the depths of the shoulder bag where I had totally forgotten it. I said a bad word and she laughed.
“Do you want to drink it before I take it away?” she said, so I gratefully guzzled it in about 5 seconds flat (thereby proving I was not trying to smuggle liquid explosives on board) and said something stupid about the much-needed boost to my caffeine levels, while she went through my bag carefully, swabbing my camera and phone for traces of explosives, seeing as I had already shown myself up as a complete idiot who couldn't be trusted to get on a plane properly.
I hope my boss never reads this...
At last, we were allowed to skulk off, red-faced, in search of coffee (which I no longer actually needed after the massive Red Bull hit). Great start to the day.
It was a relief to get on the plane without further embarrassment, and take off at about midday, Thursday (London time).
What can I say about the flight home? It was long and tiring and they made us get off in Singapore, and then be screened again. Aaaaargh! The plane was full of red-headed babies who screamed a lot, and small children who talked a lot. Thank goodness for sleeping pills and in-flight movies.
The new Star Trek is brilliant, and Mary & Max made me laugh and cry, and it was a huge relief to get off the plane in Sydney at something like 7.30pm, Friday (Sydney time). Home sweet home. Well, almost. Thelma's and my respective homes were still a couple of hundred kilometres away, so we spent the night in Sydney – and managed to sleep until 4am.
I'm wondering when I will get my brain back – it appears to have been lost in transit.