The Crystal Maze……almost – June 2016

There are few things that beat realising you have arrived 3 hours before your flight to London takes off. Just about made it so…..ahhhhhhnd relax. Apparently, there are no seats pre-security in Dublin airport either, which only adds to the benefit of arriving real early. So if my screenshot boarding pass from Dave’s phone doesn’t work, I’ll be standing for another hour before the lads arrive. Full success. With fingers crossed, and Guy Garvey’s ‘Courting the Squall’ serenading me, I approach the turnstiles. Boooooop, I assume, and we’re through.

There’s an announcement for a flight to Bordeaux, seconds before twenty odd lads stroll past me in leprechaun green suits with white shamrocks on them. Might get one of those for work, looks good quality. They’ll be singing ‘Yaya, Yaya Touré’ at random men walking around Bordeaux in no time, but it’s not racist, because they’re Irish…..right?!?


Sitting sipping my coffee, getting some interesting looks from the passers-by. A good 20 minutes in, the penny drops! I’m sitting beside a sign for the ‘world’s best shoe shine’. I’m a little insulted no-one employed my services. The airport is mostly full of partially oiled football fans and people chasing small children though. So, not really my customer base.


We get the Gatwick Express on arrival, utilising the contactless technology in our debit cards instead of queuing for tickets; it’s the little things really. Outside Angel Station, with stomachs rumbling, we spot the Nags Head as well as another place which looks way better, but it’s all the way across the road…so…..the Nags Head for lunch it is! The food is shockingly poor. Rob’s club turns up late and burnt, but just on one side. John’s patatas bravas are just potato wedges with Marie-Rose sauce poured over them. Aidan and Dave’s chicken burgers are the driest things on earth and my sweet potato fries don’t show up at all. It’s a total disaster. We’re told it’s the chef’s first day. So is everyone else around us. It doesn’t make the shit food and bad service any better. In hindsight sight, we should have sent the lot back, but it just never occurred to us. Neil joins us and we’re ready for the whole point of us being here.


We get to the Crystal Maze, all pumped up, to be told we’d booked a single place on a team instead of a full team; somehow while using a team ticket. But there’s ‘nothing’ they can do for us. We must contact ‘See Tickets’, some third party agent type person, in order to resolve the situation. All six of us just stand around, sort of dazed. What just happened……..where did it all go wrong! We argue and negotiate for a good twenty minutes but it’s all fairly pointless. We get one drink next to the Crystal Dome, the staff basically pitying us, allowing us to put on the bomber jackets for a few snaps and supplying us with some brownies and the odd, seemingly genuine, ‘I’m so sorry’. Then it’s onto The Yorkshire Grey for a pint, and to contemplate how we failed task one of The Crystal Maze; booking it correctly.


Our flight home being delayed by an hour and a half we could have done without, but 14 hours later we’re home. It’s a short and not so sweet trip, in which we achieved nothing we set out to. Our organisational skills clearly letting us down! I blame the very concept of crowd funding, albeit with absolutely no basis.