Welcome to my monthly column “A view from the Top”. Hopefully you will find my rambling readable (maybe even enjoyable). You may agree or you may disagree with my views, I care not. These are my views long held and forged over a life time of work, travel and experience. Now that’s over let’s have a look at what is really winding me up.
Off on my travels.
Those of you who are familiar with my musings will be aware that at heart I am a home bird and, that although born in England I am more than happy and comfortable in Spain. That being said however, when an opportunity to travel and visit arises, I do on occasion relish that opportunity ...so when my eldest son messaged with the opportunity to not only visit the grandchildren, but to also visit my beloved Stamford Bridge ...the home of Chelsea F.C. then it was a no brainer. Tickets booked... off I set on my latest adventure. The first leg of my trip was the flight from Alicante to Manchester. A late night flight via Jet 2 arriving in Manchester at 11.30 pm. Now I am aware that flying is not everyone's cup of tea and for some people flying at night is even more of a traumatic event ...but on a warmish still night, flying into a calm still Manchester was quite enjoyable. Of course what was more enjoyable was to be greeted at the airport by both grandkids ...one holding a self made banner saying "welcome Grandad" while the other slept peacefully in his father’s arms. “He wanted to come Dad”, says my son, “but he fell asleep in the car on the way here”. The following few days were a whirl of shopping ...playing in the local park and generally enjoying the company of close family. On day five of my visit four of us ...grandad, dad and the two ‘herberts’ set off via train for London. The 12.35 Manchester - Piccadilly to London - Euston took just over two hours and due to pre-booking was surprisingly cheap. Train journeys are a nice way to travel. Sandwiches and drinks were enjoyed, as was the dot to dot colouring book complete with coloured pencils that kept the children happy and content during the train ride. On arrival in London we made our way via the underground to Fulham Broadway station using the wonder of the "Oyster" card pre-pay system to pave our way. How clever ...in my day as a London kid I just hopped on and off at will ...money did I hear you say!
We arrived at "The Bridge" at about 3pm and set about booking into our booked family room at the hotel adjacent to the actual ground ...for football historians the hotel is just past the entrance that was/ is known as the Britannia Gate entrance where, incidentally as an eight year old I queued up from 11am waiting to see my first ever game at Chelsea F.C. The turnstiles in those days opened at 1.30pm for a 3pm kick off. I survived due to the lemonade and sugar sandwiches that my mum had put into my over the shoulder knapsack.
We booked into the hotel and whilst doing so I noticed a true Chelsea legend sitting in the lobby chatting to an associate ...now imagine my thrill at arriving at a point in time where my granddaughter ‘Yvie Chelsea Taylor Aris’ (that is her name) has the opportunity to meet the true football legend that is ‘Ron Chopper Harris’. Yes you have guessed, being a lifelong Chelsea fan, and due to her surname I call my granddaughter ‘Chopper’ ...so on a bright clear sunny day in South West London at the home of football ...Chopper met Chopper. I am delighted to say no one was carried off ...no names were taken and no one has to face a football disciplinary charge after this clash off titans. As for the game itself ...it was a typical end of season clash ...however the one all draw did mean that Huddersfield retained their Premier League status for another season. During the pre-match kick about the giant screen at the bridge informed the crowd that the last time Chelsea had entertained Huddersfield in a league game at the Bridge was 46, yes 46 years ago and the result that day (January 1971) was 2-2. As I read the screen it suddenly occurred to me that I was in attendance also at that game ...the next thing that occurred to me was ...where did those 46 years go? As I type, I still cannot get my head around the time frame involved. After the game, that the grandkids really did enjoy, we settled back into the bar at the hotel ...had a few drinks and chatted about the game and the experience with the grandkids. They were both excited at the spectacle ...at the noise and at the excitement that is Premier League football.
Next morning bright and early after breakfast at the hotel, we decamped on route for The Natural History Museum in South Kensington, determined to use the two and a half spare hours before our next train journey to visit the dinosaurs. On arrival at the museum the first thing that impresses is the outside facade of the place itself ...it is quite simply a most imposing building. The second thing that impresses is the sheer number of people wanting to enter the museum ...after a ten minute wait we finally entered to the look of sublime enjoyment on the kids’ faces. “Tyrannosaurus Rex” shouted Henry ...and again ...and again ...in fact Henry thought every collection of hanging dinosaur bones was a T Rex. Onward into the museum and to the home of the world’s largest animal ‘The Blue Whale’ ...24 metres long he /she brought a look of fascination to all who looked at it ...what a magnificent creature. The next forty or so minutes was spent just taking in some of the large range of exhibits that this wonderful museum has to offer. Another trip will be planned allowing more time to visit the Science Museum, and other wonderful museums that London has to offer. But for now it was time to travel back to Manchester for my son and his children, whilst a truly shattered grandad made his way to the peace and quiet of Hayling Island for a couple of days of rest and recreation before it was onward to Brighton for a couple of days for a family visit. It was then onward again and home to the delights of Spain and my typewriter.
Arriving at Manchester airport I was sent to the passport checking machine ...you know the one's that check your passport via eye recognition. On being instructed to "go to that queue" by a Border Force operative ...I mentioned to the said operative that “My passport never seems to be recognised, as indeed neither do I by the technology.” “Never mind that” was the reply... “please join the queue”. After several futile attempts to enter the country of my birth I was again instructed to “go to that operative over there for manual check in”. Success at manual check in. Now the point of this piece is that on arrival at Alicante I was also instructed to join the queue for eye recognition Passport entry... this time however the technology worked, and I was allowed into my adopted homeland ...the strange thing was that all other nationals of European Union countries were allowed to simply by pass the machines and enter with a cursory glance by the Guardia. Brexit rules, although officially Brexit has not yet been enacted? I now feel like a second class citizen ...Oh Brexiteers what have you done?