Three of my favourite books Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, The Trial by Franz Kafka and Rates of Exchange by Malcolm Bradbury. Imagine if you merged these three and moved the setting to Central Africa. I wonder what would happen? Of course they are all works of fiction but This is Africa.
My journey took a familiar path starting with playing football the evening before, calling into the pub afterwards and walking into town to catch the 23.30 bus to Heathrow.
The weather forecast is currently grim and snow is expected. News reached me earlier in the day that 80 flights from Heathrow had already been cancelled.
As the coach was leaving Milton Keynes a passenger shouted to the driver. “The luggage side door is still open.” He quickly stopped and closed the door.
Spent the journey waiting for us to hit the bad weather. On the M1 after Milton Keynes the gritters were out, but I could see by the signs saying 18 miles in 18 minutes that traffic was flowing.
We made it to Heathrow on schedule with no sign of any bad weather whatsoever.
I was the only passenger getting off at Terminal 4. The bus driver had a perplexed looked as he searched for my luggage. “You don’t think I’d put anything in there do you?” I said.
At Heathrow as we were about to board I was asked for my visa, which I duly provided and was allowed to proceed.
I mentioned the visa process earlier and had advised a friend what to do. He chose to ignore me after he had booked his flight and received an accreditation to act as a photographer at the tournament. He wasn’t allowed to board his plane and won’t be coming.
Changed planes in Paris, no one asked to see my visa. This is France.
We waited over an hour on the runway as the plane was de-iced.
Upon arrival in Libreville the plane seemed to take a swerve that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would have been proud of. But we emerged unscathed ready for the next challenge to collect the visa.
We were ushered from one queue to another and eventually a hand took my passport along with my paper confirmation of my evisa.
I could see a pile of passports on a desk the other side of the glass and photocopies being taken. We all waited, impatiently as time passed. It was 90 minutes after we landed before we were reunited.
The next day I met a German friend who had arrived that morning after missing his connection in Paris, by seconds – I didn’t make it worse and tell him about the de-icing. He had been rerouted via Morocco and arrived at 4am. He applied for his visa at the airport!