Well, I was invited back to London to visit the client. It was an early start at 5.30 and I was on the plane by 7 waiting for the 7:25 takeoff.
It didn't happen.
Because of winds, Heathrow was increasing the intervals between inbound flights. Ok, I wait, I had some slack built into the schedule. Oh what fun it is to sit for an hour on a plane that wasn't going anywhere.
Finally we took off at around 8:30 local time and we arrived somewhere in the vicinity of London then we started flying in circles. It seems that a plane was stuck on a runway so Heathrow was down to 50% capacity at its peaktime.
Another hour goes by and we land.
I then spend time trying to leave messages with the 'virtual' consultancy that I'm a little delayed, but should still get to their office, a room in a business centre shortly before the interview. They tried to call me back but somehow managed to ignore the message that I left giving the UK mobile number I was using and calling me on my German number which I had swapped out.
I arrived, had to wait for the guy who was going with me to the interview. No problem, we did arrive on time but the end-client was running rather late too and had just got back from a US trip and was clearly not quite with it yet (he hadn't even seen my profile). We had a good chat and things seemed to go ok, although not ringingly well but it became clear that the project would almost certainly overrun the six months discussed and probably run for a year or so. The project had elements in the UK but also it would mean frequent trips to the US. Think of the air-miles, but think of the dead-time whilst your distant forebearers are examined for suspicious Arabic sounding names in the immigration queue at JFK. Note, there are many ways of transliterating non-Latin symbols such as Arabic to Latin. The dept of homeland insecurity has problems unless you are a terrorist with a western name, in which case you will probably be invited to the Whitehouse.
Anyway, having just been reminded of the joys of a long distance commute, I wondered whether I really wanted to do this every week.
With just a few minutes debriefing in the taxi with the sales person responsible for the client, I then left for a quick bit of shopping and then went for a chat with another test consultancy with a bank as a client.
Goodness, these guys actually had a real office, a converted warehouse on the edge of the city. This did give a little more confidence so we chatted about a comparatively short project. This seemed more positive if only for the reason that it gave me the opportunity to decide not to stay in London if the commute was getting me down.
I eventually made my way back to Heathrow for my flight back. I was a bit edgy as I was there only about 40 minutes ahead of the flight (minimum) so I hustled through security (this time it detected my watch).
Why did I bother? It appears that Lufthansa's checkin system, the weight balance system and something else important had died because the mainframe had been taken down to have some new hardware added. It was brought back up, but the OS didn't see the hardware because some important patches hadn't been applied. Guess which airline I was due to fly back on?
I wandered terminal 2, waiting. Many airports are proud of their functional architecture where they look something like the Pompidou Centre. Departure gates not being considered functional are somewhat harder to locate. The sign-boards announced the original departure time, a "Delayed 1 hour" remark, but after an hour went by, the board wasn't updated (you would normally expect a gate at least thirty minutes before). Anyway, I finally located the correct gate to find that the flight had only just arrived at the new departure time, so there would be another half an hour while it was turned around.
Eventually, I reached Frankfurt about two hours later than planned and absolutely exhausted. I still managed to drop by on the leaving do for the agent who got me into my last two contracts. I think this is something like the third one that he has had in the last month, so I didn't hang around for more than an hour or so.
Luckily, I had a holiday planned for the next week where I could relax a little while wiating to see how things panned out.