I’ve been thinking about the F5 LA trip, because of course I have. It was an important life event and emotionally very satisfying. Sure, it was expensive and hard work but the rewards far outweigh those matter of fact issues. On the way out to LA I had a window seat. I can’t help but look outside and constantly amaze myself at the views out there. I normally end up hurting my neck a little from keeping my head sideways. Here’s one of the Inner Hebrides:
I am, also, very obsessed with aircraft and the processes of those aircraft. It’s utterly fascinating to be part of this global communication machine and to experience the weirdness and solitude of flying in an aluminium can at 36,000 feet above the ocean. It’s weirder still when everyone is asleep. The flight to LA was during the day time and so the biggest issue was working out how to spend the eleven hours. I read my current book and also watched a few episodes of Ghosts from the BBC. I also listened to podcasts and rested quite a bit. I knew I would be required to stay awake until my morning time and so putting my brain into standby for a few hours would be helpful for that. I had some podcasts which I don’t mind missing and so listened to them while I shut down. Using my Bose noise cancelling headphones was also quite important as it helped to shut out the constant background noise of flying.
The landing into LAX was so smooth that I honestly didn’t feel the touchdown. I was impressed. It turns out that the flight attendants were impressed too because they actually commented on how smooth and easy the landing was after we had landed. Either that or they were all shagging the pilot.
The flight home was slightly more bumpy than heading out but at least the aircraft wasn’t full and I had a row of two seats to myself. This made sleeping and moving around much easier. I could have moved to a three seat row but I was happy. The flight back was through the night, we took off at around 1800 LAX and landed the next day at 1130 LHR. It was a nine hour flight, the jet stream really helping us on the way back. I did my best to sleep/standby for most of the flight but I also kept an eye on the UK time so that I could try and force my body into the day routine for home. The problem with aircraft night time is that it often isn’t actually night outside and everyone keeps the window sliders shut. This isn’t good if you are super keen to look out of the windows just to see stuff. Whenever I opened the blind a crack it seemed that fury of all the suns in the sky was lighting up the cabin!
I listened to a few episodes of The Skeptics Guide To The Universe and dozed most of the way home. I was hoping to see something of the northern lights but I did not. The weather coming back to the UK was not great and so the view outside was just clouds for most of the trip. I found it curious during the small turbulence we felt. Here we were, about a hundred people, all trying to sleep as though it’s normal to be travelling at 500 knots in air temperature of -50C about 36,000 foot above the sea. Here’s a video taken of the view from starboard as we approached Heathrow, spot Twickenham stadium.
This is communication number 2012 and as has been recent tradition here are some things that happened in that common year:
The London Olympics
Costa Concordia runs aground off Italy.
Curiosity lands on Mars.
Felix Baumgartner is the first person to break the sound barrier without mechanical assistance.
Sometimes things turn out right. I remember at college often listening to “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by the Rolling Stones and thinking – yeah, things seem to turn out ok in the end. Now, I know that for some people things are shit. I’ve had my shit times, I guess I’m just a glass-half-full type of person most of the time. This last weekend was one of those times where over the last year things seemed to work against me some of the time but I ended up being fortunate. Let’s just make one thing clear though – I do not believe in karma or any such “the universe owes me bullshit”. All of this is the result of random happenings and any other such thoughts are pure folly. For the last weekend to happen to me, my niece had to have some rough times, but things are looking good for her now and I’m glad.
On Saturday I flew from LHR to LAX. The flight left around 1000 hours and eleven hours later landed at around 1300 hours local. The reason for this long flight was to meet the rest of the Fulham Five as we were going to have the [almost] ultimate Superbowl party. You see the story starts thirty years ago with a bunch of students watching the 1992 Superbowl in university halls. There were drunk promises to do this sometime in the future at a real Superbowl. This was the year it happened. This year also happens to be close to the half century celebrations for us all too. It seemed fitting for us to travel to be together.
I was collected from LAX by the guys in their Dodge Ram hired tanker and we headed to the LA Convention Center for the Superbowl experience. My fine for turning up to the party a day late was to wear a Britney Spears t-shirt, it could have been worse. At least I stood out among the NFL fans. Parking turns out to be reasonably tricky in the centre of LA, more so when you need half a block just to U-Turn the vehicle you are in! Beer. We wandered around the convention centre looking at the experience and taking photos. The shop was impressively big but, also at the same time, remarkably hard to find! There were lots of activities to take part in but queuing isn’t really the thing you want to do, so we chatted and wandered.
We then headed to the apartments in Marina Del Rey. Dinner was booked for 2000 and so there were deadlines to try and make through the weekend. A quick freshen up and change of clothes and we headed via Uber to Santa Monica and Del Frisco’s Grill. Dinner was nice and we discussed three times over what actually makes sport – sport. I don’t think we decided on an answer but that doesn’t matter I’m sure there’ll be other times when we can try and get a decent definition completed. The pier was then calling but the answer was very much a -NO – as it closed about ten minutes before we finished our dinner. By this time I had been up for a day and a half so I was kinda glad it was time to head back to the apartments and sleep. A slight aside is that Santa Monica Pier is the start of Route 66 so maybe someday I’ll have to drive the lot? or at least visit the other end of the road.
Sunday, SUPERBOWL SUNDAY, started with being surprised I actually slept around five hours and didn’t wake at three in the morning. There was definitely sunlight outside when I finally decided it was time to wake. Jase went for a swim in the Pacific and I paddled. We had a nice walk along to the marina breakers and watched some impressive sky writing. I knew that as long as I kept my caffeine levels high enough I should be good for most of the weekend and so I just kept drinking coffee. Turns out there’s quite a bit of helicopter action along the beach, not sure why, I tried not to answer questions that seemed a lot of effort. Breakfast was somewhere on W Washington Blvd, I’m not sure where, I just spent most of the weekend following and not making decisions – it’s nice to have a break from all that grown up stuff – thanks Mazz for being Dad.
Ades and I took the other three to the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood and then returned to Venice to find somewhere for us to watch the match. I had previously decided I would cheer for the Rams because Jase supports the Bengals but I knew that secretly I wanted the Bengals to win. I honestly didn’t mind who, it was amazing and coincidental that it was two of our teams that had made it to the World Championships. Adrian and I found the Venice Whaler and queued for a short while to get into their Superbowl party. Honestly this is where things can become a little blurry so the order of the following things might not follow an increasing time reference.
The bar was definitely very full of Rams fans and so we decided to cheer everything for the Bengals. There’s no point trying to endear ourselves to our ex-colony. When the Bengals ran on to the stadium Ades and I cheered loudly. The rest of the bar went quiet and a big guy called us out for not knowing anything about NFL. He chilled shortly later but it was funny. We ate a little food but mostly we seemed to drink. We did tequila shots with some people over from Wales, called and Aussie a cunt quite a bit and generally had an amazing time. I think we chatted to an American woman who claimed to be a scouser but I’m reasonably convinced she was slightly crazy. After the match the three who could afford tickets to the real game arrived and we chatted and had a good time.
I think Jase and I walked back to our apartment and slept, soundly. Monday started with another walk along the beach and a paddle. We saw dolphins from Venice Pier and I promised Jase that I wouldn’t propose to him. Happy Birthday Rich. Later we were picked up by Jase’s American dad and had lunch at Tony P’s dockside grill with his US family members. I had a quite large pasta dish. There’s never really the need to worry about a food order being enough to fill you in this country. After this it was time to head to LAX and think about the administration of the journey home. Jase blagged me into the business lounge and many chocolate brownies were eaten. We both avoided alcohol as there does come a point when you need to stop and start to get the liver and kidneys cleaning you out. The flight home was only nine hours and I managed to sleep for a fair bit of it.
This trip has been thirty years in the making and was a weekend of such relaxed fun I can’t think of anything I’d rather do. The relaxation that comes with being with close friends who you’ve known for thirty years even if you haven’t seen them for a few years is impressive. It was like we were all mentally nineteen again and just having a great time. I was very obviously the oldest person in the Venice Whaler for most of Sunday though. Not that I care. I had a great time.
This is communication number 2009. I should be writing stuff below this explaining some things that happened in that year. But, I shan’t sully this communication with irrelevant details.
Last night I had dinner at the Hope and Anchor [lovely little pub and very nice] not far from the O2 Arena. I met up with friends, one of whom was over from the States, and chatted and moaned and then got locked in a prison transfer van.
The friend from the States was stuck in business meetings and the remaining four of us walked the short distance from the pub to Bunker 51 to experience an escape room challenge. We were put in overalls along with hand and foot cuffs and then given an hour to escape from a prison van using clues and ingenuity. We didn’t make it. We had one last clue to solve and just failed to escape. We were gutted. However, we were told that only 11 teams had managed to escape in the time this room had been running. Still not happy we didn’t make it. The current record is 3-1.
While I walked from the car park to the pub and venue the city was looking gorgeous. I took some photos.
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