It is good to be home. That was a shitty trip, and I mean that literally. Cameroon went very well, but Nigeria? Not so good. Let's not dwell on it though.
The Return Trip
Had a bit of fun at Lagos airport. They are obsessed with taking/not taking lighters off people. They pawed through my suitcase and carry on bag at the check-in desk, (It's the only airport-that I have used-that does this), they spot my smokes and they ask for my lighter. I said "I need it". The guy closed my suitcase and waved me on. Through passport control-no problems. On to security and they pawed through my carry on bag after it goes through their x-ray machine. They spot my smokes and ask me where my lighter is. "They took it off me", I said. They closed my bag (the lighter was in it-how crap is their x-ray machine?) and waved me on. Fast forward three hours, (replete with pleasant buzz on from all the gin), and they are pawing through my carry on bag at the gate. They spot my smokes again and ask me for my lighter again. "They took it off me at security", says I. "Go for a pat down", says she. The security chap pats me down, misses my lighter completely-it's now in my shirt pocket-and waves me on. Bloody ridiculous.
So, we're on the plane. I paid a little extra (68 euros online when I checked in) for a bulk-head seat up the front. The only reason I do this is for the little telly that comes out of the arm rest. If you are watching the screen on the back of the seat in front, and the person reclines, it is mostly impossible to see the screen without possessing a doctorate in practical contortionism. I park my delicate arse. Minutes later a family of four plonks down in the two seats to my right. A young Nigerian couple with twins. Babies. This is not looking good. I usually attract the immensely fat or the ear-shatteringly young. Meanwhile the seats all around me are filling up. To my left is Milo Lady. She is dressed head to toe (including baseball cap) in bright green Milo branded stuff. (Milo is a chocolate drink-similar to Nesquik and is found all over Africa. I loved it as a kid when I was growing up there). More about Milo Lady in a bit.
Fast forward 40 minutes. We are up at 40,000 feet and people are up and homing in on the empty seats. Big Dutch trolley dolly asks me to move to the row behind me. I tell her I paid extra for the telly. She nods, "It's up to you" she says. Wifey next to me whips out her doo-dahs to feed the little ones. Looks self-conscious. Don't know why as it is perfectly natural. (Not too sure of the etiquette, but I murmur "Nice baps missus" just in case one is meant to pass comment). I decide to move anyway to give her some privacy. The empty row behind me is no longer empty. There is now a giant sat in the aisle seat. I gently slide my still-delicate derriere into the other aisle seat. He says "Can't you pick another row? I want to stretch out. There is an empty row six rows further back". "No" says I, "I am going to stay close to my luggage". He starts to grumble, and then tries to convince me to bugger off when the flight purser shows up. "Can I see your boarding card?" he asks the giant. The giant hands it over. The purser says "This is row 11. Your seat is in row 42. Please go there now". "I am very comfortable here" says the giant. "You may be" says the purser, "and you can stay if you pay 150 euros". The big guy argues a bit longer, throws me a filthy look, and buggers off. The walk of shame. Next up, Milo Lady. Seems she just plonked her green arse down wherever she fancied as well. The purser tells her to move. Nine times she says "Just leave me here. I like it". "Sure", says the purser (nine times), "Just pay me 150 euros and you can stay". She also did the walk of shame to the back of the plane. The purser found another 11 people who just took any seat they wanted to. He moved them all on. I was glad about this. Seat discipline must be maintained, otherwise it is just chaos. (On Air Nigeria, for example, it's a free for all. People get hurt in the rush for the good seats. Fist fights are common. They could end the punch ups by, and this is just a wild suggestion, I'm not airline trained, assigning seat numbers to each passenger. It isn't bloody rocket surgery).
Anyhoo, they switch on the entertainment system, and the minute they do, wifey (who was in the middle seat in my old row), immediately sits in my old seat (now in front of me) and reclines the fecking thing. Telly is buggered. Can't see a thing. Moved my (increasingly delicate) arse into the middle seat. Normality returns. Flight unevenful from that point on.
At Schiphol airport whilst checking in for the Aberdeen flight this morning they try again to make me go through the body scanner. I tell them no. "Why not?" is the now familiar question. "Just watch" says I. Together me and the security lad watch four people go through the scanner. Three people need pat downs. "I'll use the arch", I say. Through the arch I go, no pat down needed. "See?", I said to the security chap, "Those things are useless. You pat down 75% of the people using them". He nods, defeated. I walk away, triumphant.
Enough of the travel tales. I am sure you are bored with them by now. Suffice it to say that I would love an uneventful trip. Beginning to end. Never happens with me.
The Other Stuff.
I wanted to thank you all again for your votes. We did pretty well in the Total Politics Voteathon and if you haven't trawled the lists, I thought you would be interested to know where we are in the four categories we we were placed in. I say "we" because this was all down to you. Without your votes we would be unlisted. Not that that's a bad thing, but it is nice to know we are being read.
So, our highest ranking was in this category:
Dropped one place from number 13 in 2010. Now at number 14. Orphans of Liberty squeezed us out but that is good news. I am very pleased to see them storming the charts.
Not sure what went wrong with the badges. This should be non-aligned bloggers. We are in at number 18.
This was a nice surprise. Last year we were at 107. We are now placed at number 67.
We were unplaced in this category last year. This year we are at number 71.
You can see the full lists (all categories) here.
And while we are wittering on about badges, we made a remarkable leap in the Wikio rankings this month. We are now up to number 38 from 47.
All in all, we are doing rather well. Someone out there likes us. Pat yourselves on the back, light 'em if you got 'em, and have a glass of something tasty. Our combined voices are being heard, and the dissent is growing. This is a good thing. Keep adding your voice, in any way you can, to the growing crescendo.
Thank you for your continuing support. This country is in a mess and we won't clean it up by just whining about it.
But The League Of Extraordinary Bloggers And Their Commenters will make change happen.
Let's roar like the lions we are.