Sunday, February 5
YEAR: 2017 | Balham | Heathrow | Travelodge
Both of us have set our alarms for 9:00 and just before they ring we leap out of bed and start dressing. By 10:00 I have passed through security, the non-Schengen gates, and found the Diners Club lounge.
I sat there alone to my delight. The Sole Occupant breakfasted on salmon soup, chicken salad, and one glass of sparkling wine, while a religious service played out on the television. Diners Club lounges make the whole business of having a card worthwhile.
As Irma predicted the plane had plenty of spare seats. I had an aisle seat on the exit row. I also had the whole row to myself. I listened to the Incredible String Band and realised that I should listen to them more often.
At Heathrow I stand in a line and notice the pattern where the floor meets the glass wall. The plane has landed thirty minutes late but I have no appointments today. I take my time, briefly enjoying the feeling that I have nothing that needs doing right now.
I will take the underground to Green Park, change to the Victoria Line, missing out Victoria itself, change to the Northern Line at Stockwell, and leap out at Balham.
The Travelodge hotels remind me of Pizza Hut. They don’t offer anything wildly eccentric or unusual, but instead they offer something more than adequate, and absolutely standardised. I will find nothing to surprise me at the Balham Travelodge.
I will however find that Balham has grown suddenly trendy. I will eat artisan food with hand-crafted ale at The Regent, a pub that promises to stay open until 5am when the Superbowl finishes.
I will leave before the Superbowl even starts, eager to sample the sleep-inducing properties of the Travelodge Dreamer bed, containing “over 900 individual pocketed springs”.