Sunday 18 December 2016

Don't mention the ketchup in the coffee thing!

I’m on the FB2 Flybus from Oslo to the airport and having trouble keeping my eyes open. Come on man, don’t miss the little you’ll see of Norway outside of the city.

Beyond the bus window the grey light of a winter dawn reflects off the dusting of snow on the barren rolling fields.

The weekend visiting my good friend Blitz and his far better other was gentle and most pleasant, as had been the two days I’d spent in 
London with my mum on the way to Oslo.

However, I’d felt exhausted for weeks before I left and as the trip approached, it became a kind of self-fulfilling worry prophecy.

Oh no I am so tired. Will I be able to do it? Should I go at all? Will I cancel one bit of it? Which bit will I cancel? How can I explain that?

Instead I went online and booked a triangle of tickets from Dublin to Heathrow to Oslo to Dublin, and - oops, there goes the chin, dipping again. 

Stay with it Adley. 
Don't be dribbling in front of the locals now. 
You’re in public. 
Look at Norway out of the window and then sleep on the plane. 

Yes, I know it’s only a two hours flight, but bloody hell that’d help. Any sleep I can grab will prove vital, because I can’t be dropping off like this in four hours, when I’m sitting at the wheel of my car, doing 120kph on the motorway home.

At the airport I manage to get myself into a sweaty lather, by walking at speed, up and down the Departures Shopping area, increasingly desperately looking for a newspaper. Despite it being obvious they have no international newspapers, my minuscule brain refuses to accept that fact.

Slumping into a chair I glance around to see everyone staring at their phones; thumbs stroking the screens of their tablets; fingertips flying over the keyboards of laptops.

I’m a dinosaur. I want a newspaper.

The fights with SAS were exceptionally cheap and when I see the plane I understand why. Crammed to the rafters, we are wedged into tiny aged seats, clothed in fabric that reminds me of 1973.

As ever, I’m by the window and the bloke sitting next to me is of slight build, yet somehow as he lands in his seat he manages to take control of the armrests on both sides. Then he enthusiastically spreads his knees wide sideways, as if myself and the unfortunate on the other side of him do not exist.

Never mind. I’m putting in the earplugs and will hopefully wake up in two hours with half a head of crushed flat hair, that’s been resting on the window as I slumber.

That’d be lovely, except, oh, there he goes, off to the loo, just after take-off, so I’ll just drop off while he’s gone and - Oh! There he is, back from the loo. And there he is, pressing the button for the flight attendant. And now he’s drinking wine, and now he’s buying presents for his two daughters which I’ve seen on the screen of his iPhone. 

Now he’s off to the loo again and now he’s buying Duty Free and at no point in the entire flight does he sit still, except when finally, just as we start our descent into Dublin, he collapses his head back, mouth hanging agape, snoring through a bumpy landing.

Long before, I’d removed my earplugs and given up on feeble dreams of sleep. Reaching into my bag I discovered that his spread thigh had been resting on my chocolate bar. 

Not only had the bastard been keeping me awake, he’d also melted my bloomin’ Twirl.


I stare at his sleeping face with darkness and begrudgery in my soul.

Then it’s off to the car and a plan to stay alive by keeping awake. I decide I can make it to that roundabout in Athlone with the McDonalds and the petrol station. I’ll make it there, down a double espresso for boost and a quarter pounder for ballast and that’ll get me home.

The motorway comes to an end at the Athlone bypass yet for some reason I sail around it and am heading west without sight of the roundabout. Now on the M6 to Galway, I’ll have to go all the way to Plaza Services to find sustenance.

With the belly rumbling and my focus crumbling, I just about make it. Stumbling into the restaurant area, where everything seems bright to my sleepy eyes, I order a big burger and a tall double grande large espresso americano with extra coffee.

Falling into a seat, I find myself unable to eat the burger. Just get that coffee into me; keep awake.

I drag myself over to where sugar and wooden stirrers are available, but where is the milk?

If I drink this much caffeine without milk, my gut will kick back so powerfully I won’t need the car to get me home.

Where’s the milk? Where’s the bloody - ah! A plunger! That must be it.

With urgency I shoot two large dollops of tomato ketchup into my coffee and freeze.

Did anyone see that?
Do I care?

Carefully stirring only the upper half of the drink, I slug back two-thirds of it, with not a trace of tomato hitting my palate.

The caffeine kicks in at Oranmore.


By the time I get home, I’m wide awake, mad as a hatter and twice as fruity, muttering mysteriously and maniacally to the Snapper about how nobody needs to know about that ketchup thing.

©Charlie Adley

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