I freely admit that in 1995 when viewing Oasis my immediate reaction would have been “Do something original, John Lennon has already been and gone” but on the up side it was far, far better than the fledgling phase of the “boy band” or the “girl band” that was making its presence known, particularly in the JerryChicken household of those times where my two young daughters were of that impressionable age to think that the chart music of their own era was somehow more important and far better than anything that had gone before, how I scoffed at their impertinent suggestions.
However, October 1995, something strange and rather unpredictable happened which resulted in me taking a 10 hour flight across the Atlantic at someone else’s expense and having to stay in an all-inclusive resort hotel on a Carribean island whilst waiting for an electrician to turn up.
It had all started twelve months earlier with an ordinary day in the office and an ordinary phone call enquiring about some of the credit card style terminals that we purveyed to businesses along with software and other gubbins, and stuff, a man from a company in Harrogate wished for me to go there and do a demonstration for him, it being only a matter of a dozen or so miles away I agreed to see him the next day.
We had a pleasant enough chat in his small travel agents office of five employees and I showed him our starter level package but he kept diverting the conversation to our BIG “every option included” deal for business who employed hundreds rather than five and then 60 or so minutes into the conversation he mentioned that he wasn’t buying it for here but was buying the package for the hotel he owned in Barbados, “Sorry, did I mention that I own a hotel in Barbados?” he asked.
Twelve months later he rings me again and explains that he has spoken to his hotel manager and that the hotel manager would like me to fly out to Barbados, at their expense, and stay at their resort for seven days in order to demonstrate our product to him for an hour or so before he decides whether to buy it or not, like a fool I agreed immediately, well you would wouldn’t you ?
The owner in Harrogate goes on to say that he himself is flying out there next Tuesday and that he has already booked a seat on the British Airways service so if I was to meet him at Gatwick then all would be fine and dandy, I had my bags packed just five minutes later.
Its hard to ruin a Cat Stevens song but Boyzone had a fookin good stab at ruining it.
And so several days later I found myself at the BA check-in desk at Gatwick with a ticket in my hand that had been posted to me, searching the couple of hundred other faces queuing at the desk to see if I recognised anyone and it was at this moment that I came to my senses and realised that it had been over a year since I’d met my host and that I couldn’t really remember what he looked like other than he slightly resembled Jack Hawkins the old English actor and star of every English war film ever made, seriously, if it was in black-and-white and it was about the war then Jack Hawkins was in it somewhere, so I’m stood in this queue for the Barbados flight at a time when it was still only the well heeled or drug mules who took flights to the Carribean and I’m looking for Jack Hawkins while getting closer and closer to the desk.
Nope, couldn’t see him anywhere, still I thought, he said that he had booked two tickets so I’d meet up when we boarded at the gate, or failing that he’d be sat next to me anyway, THEN I’d recognise him again AND I’d written his name on a piece of paper that was in my inside jacket pocket, all would be well, so I checked in my baggage and made my way to the gate.
Surprisingly I couldn’t pick him out of the crowd at the gate either and then they called our row numbers out and I went and took my seat on the 747, a window seat he’d booked for me, very nice too, I sat and waited for him to board and take up his seat next to me.
Several minutes later a couple, clearly a young “courting” couple (as my mother would describe) came down the aisle examining the seat numbers and then stopped at the two seats to my left, “No” I thought, “Something wrong here, these seats can’t be theirs for Jack Hawkins has booked at least one of them”, but the tickets showed that yes indeed, these were their seats and it appeared that Jack Hawkins was not going to be taking the flight with me.
As all this confusion was starting to fog up my brain the doors were closed, the 747 was pushed back and the engines started up and it was around this time that I came to realise that I was now sitting on a plane that was soon to whisk me halfway around the world on the whim of someone that I could not recognise in a crowd and who had not turned up for the flight as promised, and that when I arrived at my destination I only had the name of the hotel and no idea of how to get to it, it was around this time that my brain started to ask questions such as “What do you think you are doing ?” and “Its still not too late to jump up and shout LET ME OFF”.
To be continued…