Thursday 15 November 2007

A Heathrow Encounter

Some years ago, while working for an SAP consultancy, I found myself on a training course in the glamourous, cosmopolitan hub that is Heathrow, London. Somewhat befitting of my dour, grey, soulless environment I experienced what seemed to be the longest, most miserable week of my life.

It was March - the darkness was still setting in far too early and the weather was arctic. The course was mind mumbingly boring, filled with the type of IT nerds you think exist only in movies. The hotel was perfectly pleasant but each time I went to the dining room for breakfast or dinner I found myself sitting near an elderly American gentleman who would order a large plate of coleslaw (nothing more) and wolf it down - stopping only occasionally to make a horrendous hocking noise as he cleared his throat. I tried to vary the times I went for meals but he was always there. (I wondered if he was altering his meal times too because he found my ability to eat without hocking so repulsive). In addition, the hotels fire alarm had a distressing tendency to go off at 3am and remain ringing loudly until the sleep of all the guests was sufficiently ruined.

To top it all off, for most of the week I found myself as sick as a small hospital. Headaches, stuffed nose, sore throat, sensitivity to light and the usual aches and pains. I thought I'd never get back to Dublin to greet my own bed and reliable fire alarm.

Eventually, having made it through the week, I was sat amid hundreds of be-suited business travellers, a quivering, sniffling wreck, in a packed departure lounge in Heathrow airport waiting for the flight home. When my flight (Aer Lingus EI-EI-O) was called the Irish people, desperate to show their skill and love of queuing rushed to the gate - despite the repeated insistence of the nice Aer Lingus people that "we are only boarding row 1 to 8 for the moment".

I looked down at the boarding card in my hand which guaranteed I would be sitting in seat 22F, no matter who got on the plane before me, and stayed put until the queue died down a little. When I finally, headed for the gate there was a still a queue of people in the ramp waiting to board. So I'm leaning there at the back of the line, minding my own business and who comes down the ramp and joins the queue behind me but Ronan Keating.

He's wearing cowboy boots, torn jeans, a white t-shirt and a black leather jacket. He looks smaller in "real life" but, strangely, he also looks more worthy of ire and derision. He has a bag slung over his shoulder and he's reading the latest edition of Hello magazine. Obviously looking to see what he was having done to his kitchen or something.

Make no mistake, I detest him as much as the next person. I hope he dies in screaming agony in 10 different hospitals... but not wanting to seem like a complete scumbag in front of all the other passengers, I let the opportunity to tell him in no uncertain terms what I think of him pass.

After a while he started singing - not serenading the entire plane or anything like that. Just singing to himself- but loud enough for me to hear him. Well that changes everything doesn't it? So I turned around to him and ever so politely said

Howrya! Listen, I've had a very tough week. I've been sick as a dog and I've a thumping headache. Normally when you are on the radio its very easy to turn it off or change the station but obviously I can't do that now so could would you mind giving it a rest? That'd be great. Thanks.

I don't think I have ever been called more abusive names by anybody in my life. It was magic - he told me how he earned more in a month than I would in a year (true). How he currently had more money in the bank than would ever pass through my hands - even if I lived to 200 (probably also true). He told me how he was a serious artist and how he deserved more credit for his work (delving into the realms of fantasy here Keating). He called me a prick and a bollox and God knows what else (all not without some grain of truth in all fairness) .... but I didn't care, the anger and disbelief in his face and the fact that I was the cause was more than enough reward.

Plus, its a good story to tell in a pub - or a blog.


gary said...

'life ish a rollercoashter, you jush gotta ride it'
christ, that man annoys me, the wobbly-headed albino tit.

The Hangar Queen said...

I have no idea who Mr.Keating is but you are my newest hero.
If an oportunity to remove him from this plane (heh) ever comes around again please ask the flight attendant for a seat belt extender and strangle him with it.
I suspect the gasping,choking,pleading sounds he'll make as he dies will be met with wild enthusiasm from his ultimate audience.

Hi..I'm Devin.Thanks for dropping by.This puts me in mind of a celebrity passenger post.(My fave was Snoop'shizzle)

John Mc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Mc said...

Having left Ireland before Boyzone's time I am not really aware of Mr Keatings as such. However a friend from Dublin does a riotous imitation and if he is accurate, Keating deserves all the abuse he gets.

The Hangar Queen said...

If we had been in Ireland for the debut of R.K. I imagine you would have been sharpening your kinves on the south side while I sharpened mine on the north side.

Apologies B.A. for hijacking your comments.

conortje said...

What a fabulous story - wish I could have seen his expression. Well done!