I was quite pleased to leave Japan behind. Don’t get me wrong: I quite like it there but, after nigh-on three months of living out of a bag, I was ready to go home. I was also a little fed up with not understanding practically anything that was going on around me. Most places that I’ve traveled to before I spoke a little of the language or could at least make an educated guess at what signs were telling me. Being immersed in a kind of audio/visual white noise for a week was pretty disconcerting.
Departure from Tokyo was delayed 45 minutes after a plane suffered a blown tyre upon landing. It gave me some extra time to stew in my bad mood. The reason? Virgin Atlantic wanted to charge me £75 for an exit seat. While every other airline practically fell over themselves to offer me some extra legroom, Virgin saw this as an opportunity to profit and effectively penalise me simply for being tall. I refused to pay as a point of principle and ended up folding myself into a normal window seat.
Even still, apparently I was asleep and snoring within minutes of taking off. I managed to squeeze five films in between further power naps: Son of Rambow, American Gangster, Charlie Wilson’s War, Vantage Point and Cloverfield.
I landed back in a grey and chilly UK at Heathrow (terminal three) and faced an hours wait for my bag. Of course, nobody told us what was wrong or how long we’d be milling around. While I waited I found the nearest power point and charged my phone. Once I was reunited with everything I jumped on the Heathrow Express and – after a quick trip on the tube – was soon on my way to Colchester for an overnight stay to meet my mum, sister-in-law and my two month old niece. The drive back to Halifax with my mum on the Sunday was largely uneventful apart from a flyby of vintage planes while we drove past Duxford.
A week later, after catching up with friends and family back in Halifax, I was on the train again and heading north back to Edinburgh. I have another week to remember where the office is, get used to early mornings before I start work again and return to some semblance of normality.