Wednesday 16th January 2013
We were up at 4.15am for what was going to be a long day (thanks to the miracle of flight there would be 29 hours in this day for us) which was a jolt enough in itself, but there was worse to come.
I had idly thought that the speedboat ride might be mildly romantic as we'd get to watch the sun rise, but I was incorrect. The trip over to the island had been long but relatively uneventful, but we were given a clue that all was not going to be quite as relaxing on the way back when we were all given life-jackets. This was the only warning we were going to get that things might be rough, but that became apparent within the first three minutes. The waves were big and the boat powered into them, jostling us about before crashing down on to the sea again with a shuddering crash. The water felt like a solid object and it didn't seem beyond the realms of possibility that the boat might smash into pieces, so hard were we slamming against it. There was nervous laughter from the dozen or so people on this doomed vessel, but palpable fear as well. I guessed we'd probably be OK, but I wasn't looking forward to spending the next hour and a half being buffeted like this. Had the angry fish gods resolved to punish us for killing one of their kind? The waves we were facing were ten times the size of anything in the Perfect Storm. The boat engine seemed to choke and the captain changed his tactics from going as fast as possible to slowing down a bit, which seemed to do some good. If you like rollercoasters that go on for a long time and which might actually kill you then you'd have loved this. I found it a bit unpleasant. Though on the plus side I was no longer sleepy. I wasn't really worrying about dying so much as how annoying it would be if we overturned and all my stuff got wet. All my electronics would be ruined. Plus we'd have to sit on the plane in really wet clothes. That would be worse than the death of myself and my wife.
Luckily after about fifteen minutes the sea was a bit calmer and the slamming calmed down considerably. The sun came up and things were a little less scary. By the time we were approaching the airport everyone was relaxed and happy and the fish gods showed they had forgiven us by sending a couple of dolphins (which are big fish and anyone who tells you different is lying) to leap and cavort in the water beside us.
After this twelve hours in the air would seem like a doddle. Even the mild turbulence was nowhere near as scary. Even the pictures on the news at the airport showing a plane on a runway with all its escape chutes deployed couldn't scare me now.
I used to find long haul flights unbelievably exhausting and unpleasant. Maybe I've changed or maybe planes are better than they used to be, but apart from someone noxiously farting every now and again on the second flight (the last one was like having a chemical thrown in my face and my wife not unreasonably suggested that someone might have shat themselves).
I spent all the time watching films and got through an impressive amount.
I watched (let's see if we can remember them all)
1) "Ruby Sparks" which had all the makings of a good film about a young author who writes about his dream woman who then magically comes to life. It's a bit of an obvious idea, but it looked promising, but failed to deliver. The main character was meant to be a genius writer, but he seemed a bit lame and hack to me (that's the danger of trying to write the part of a genius writer if you are not one yourself), but the actor playing him seemed out of his depth and annoying. And the script just didn't seem to explore the premise it had created in any depth. I nearly gave up on it, but decided to see if it would address any of its own problems. It didn't.
2)"Frankenweenie"- enjoyable stuff from Tim Burton. Good to see a kids film that deals with death in a slightly sick and irresponsible way and I am glad that the message at the end was not that we should just leave the dead where they are.
3) "Taken 2" - not sure I've seen Taken 1, but didn't really need to. Liam Neeson's character is so smart and strong and prescient that it seems almost unbelievable that he would have got captured in the first place. But he gets away because he is so cool and brilliant. And it's pretty dull.
4) "The Expendibles 2" - surprisingly this was my favourite film of the lot. I'd seen the first film and it was pretty much rubbish, but this one took itself much less seriously, was camp, homoerotic and ridiculous in just the right balance. I liked the fact that all these action stars who were once rivals had now got together to produce this stupid film. It's rubbish of course, but wonderful rubbish in the way that Taken 2 was not.
5) "To Rome with Love"- My expectations for Woody Allen are now so low (they were once so high and it's hard to know whether I'd be so down on him if he hadn't been so good in the past). I'd quite liked his homage to "Goodnight Sweetheart" (Midnight in Paris), but only in comparison to the awful films he's been putting out lately. This one was better than I expected, with some smart ideas like a ordinary man who inexplicably becomes famous and chased by paparazzi. But ultimately most of the ideas were a bit stretched beyond their funniness and the female characters were cliched and disappointing (tart with a heart, fickle actress, sex bomb secretary).
6) "Snow White and the Huntsman" - I watched this because Nick Frost is in it though he only has a small part (ha ha, he's one of the dwarves) and it wasn't really for me. I only half-watched most of it.
7) "Men in Black 3" - I got about two thirds of the way through this. It was better than I expected. Which is almost the ultimate compliment to a modern day Hollywood movie.
I feel like I've missed on out, but then again I was only on these planes for about twelve hours, so I doubt there could have been another one.
London was cold, predictably enough. The first thing we heard when we got off the plane was a member of the ground staff saying, "I'll get the de-icer".
We were home by 9pm. Just 22 hours after we'd woken up in the Maldives. It already feels like a half-remembered dream.
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