The following post has absolutely nothing to do with writing whatsoever. I'm just posting it because ... well, just because.
Yesterday I had to travel to Nottingham for a meeting. This in itself is fine. I like putting on a suit, travelling somewhere, and meeting people. Plus, this particular client and his company are always a pleasure to deal with. So, I had to get up at an unreasonably early hour, drive the fifty minutes or so to the airport, fly to Nottingham and get picked up by my client.Part 1: The Lift
We then went to a local business park where we were to meet with someone from another company who my client wants me to work with. Now, it's a big company with very impressive buildings
(four of them) on a massive site. They are at pretty much the opposite end ofthe business spectrum from me in terms of company size. So, the rep was telling us all about his company and all their whiz-bang technology. He walked us across their modern, open plan, glass and concrete reception area to the lift (or elevator, for my American friends) and hit the button for the top floor. We watched the floor number display thing count upwards with that odd, displaced feeling of being in a moving lift. And then ... nothing.
It's hard to describe. There's a strange kind of sensory deprivation in a lift, especially a shiny new one. The world outside this little box ceases to exist when the doors close, you feel a change in your weight, sense some sort of movement, then the doors slide open to reveal a whole new world that wasn't there before. All of that happened, except for the last part. The doors did not slide open, the world outside was not reborn.
For the first time in my life, I was stuck in a lift. A very small lift, on a hot day, with two other grown men. Our host spent a minute or two smiling at us while hitting various buttons, presumably in the hope of reminding the lift of its basic function. Eventually, he did the needful thing and pressed the emergency button. Now, never having been in this situation before, I wasn't sure what to expect. A bell, maybe, or a siren, or just about anything that would say: Somebody Somewhere is Doing Something.
Oh, no. None of that.
We heard a ring tone. It went on for a while, and was then replaced by the sound of a receiver being picked up and replaced, cutting the line. We looked at each other. We laughed. Whoever was at the other end had something more important to do. We laughed again.
Our host cleared his throat and pressed the emergency button again. He smiled at us with thin lips. He too was sweating. I felt dampness trickle down my own back. We heard the ring tone again, but this time it was answered by a crackling female voice.
Our host leaned in to the little panel. "Hello. We're ... er ... stuck."
"You what, duck?"
"We're stuck in the lift."
"Oh, right. Well, um, hang on. I'll let someone know."
We looked at each other. We laughed. We sweated
. I pointed out the notice posted above the control panel. It said when the lift was last inspected and by who. I suggested to our host he may want a word with the signatory
. We laughed again. We sweated
After a period of time, which could have been minutes or hours, there came a mechanical grinding. The lift dropped what felt like a few inches. We laughed. There was more grinding. The lift rose a few inches. We heard voices, men issuing each other instructions. Our host called out, asking what was happening. The men didn't answer. He called out again, but still, no answer.
We looked at each other. We laughed. We sweated
The lights went out. We did not laugh.
I learned something, yesterday. I learned when you're stuck in a lift, lights on is better. Much, much better. Yep, when given the choice between stuck with lights on or stuck with lights off, I have to say I'd go for lights on every time.
After a minute or so of listening to my companions breathing, the lights came back on. And, yes, we laughed. By this stage, however, the laughter had taken on a kind of harsh jangle. A strange idea crossed my mind. I wondered what it feels like if a lift just plummets. Do you become weightless? Are you glued to the ceiling? How long does it take? We were only a couple of floors up, so it wouldn't have been that catastrophic, I suppose. But I bet it would still hurt.
More grinding, more voices, more up and down shunts, more stilted laughter. At long last, the voices began discussing matters of inches, and the shunts became less dramatic. Then the prying started. So here's another preconception banished. There is no magic button, no emergency release, to mechanism to make lift doors swish open and let the captives out (and neither were there any hatches for us to climb out of, Die Hard style). We heard much puffing and grunting from outside, much grinding and groaning, and caught occasional glimpses of daylight as the doors were forced back an inch or two, only to spring shut again. And all this time, despite our host calling to our rescuers for progress updates, they never said a word to us.
Until, that is, they finally got us out. After a lifetime (okay, maybe more like twenty minutes) of confinement, we emerged blinking into the light, the delightfully cool air chilling our sweat soaked shirts. One of the workers, stout and bald with a fluorescent
yellow jacket, looked us up and down.
"Was it warm in there?" he asked.Part 2: Nottingham
When my client dropped me back at the airport, I still had a few hours to kill before my flight, so I decided to catch the bus into the city and have a look around. I have to say, I like Nottingham. It has a proper bustling city feel about it, but isn't so big that you feel lost. Lots of pretty, winding streets, and a beautiful market square. They also have a couple of good guitar shops. It must be said, though, Nottingham's bus drivers are as rude as the bus drivers in any other city I've ever visited; in other words, they're very rude.
But here's a negative. I hope no-one from Nottingham reads this, but I've got to be blunt. Nottingham
women are rough as biscuits. There were a few lookers (they all seemed to work on information desks) but looks weren't really the issue.
I'll give you an example. On the bus ride back to the airport, a young woman sat across the aisle
from me. She wasn't going to the airport, but got off just before, thank God. All the time she was on the bus, she was locked in conversation with someone on her mobile phone. She spoke very loudly with no concern for who else could hear. Now, I'm no prude, and I have a pretty good line in cussing (check any of my writing), but she made me blush. But that wasn't the issue. It was more the actual content of her discussion. From her drug habit, to how much she'd drank the night before (and its affect on her digestive processes and other bodily functions) to the good friend of hers who deserves to be beaten by her boyfriend, because after all, she does sometimes act like "a proper twat."
Good God.Part 3: East Midlands Airport
The air hub for Nottingham and the East Midlands is the worst airport I've ever had the misfortune to have flown out of. Coming in was fine, but going out again was a bloody nightmare. Why? The queue for departures. They simply can't cope with the flow of passengers combined with extra security checks. I don't mind having to take my shoes off and take my laptop apart and all that stuff, because, you know, it's better than getting blown up by some deranged martyr. But I do object to having to stand in a queue like this...
And that pic was taken after I'd already been standing in line for half an hour. To summarise, what a day...