How we brought the speakers from Heathrow to Guildford

Driving up to Guildford for the conference, coming from the West, we were delayed around Stonehenge. Hurriedly unloaded a car full of leaflets, exhibition stands etc and now the race to get to Heathrow, pick up the international speakers and get them back to Guildford in time for the conference dinner at 7pm. Packed Stephen & Sandra into the car knowing they had just over 2 hours – 27 miles there and 27 miles back – perfectly possible. Except that it was Friday around London!

He sprang to the car, and Sandra, and he;
It galloped, she galloped, they galloped all three;
“Good speed” cried we all as they started the drive;
“Speed?” echoed the sign to the M25!

Stephen picks up the story –

I had been detailed for collecting Klaus-Peter Hunfeld and Martin Andersson from Heathrow on Friday evening. We had asked them to phone or text me on arrival so we could minimise the time spent in parking at Heathrow but this raised the problem of answering if I was in transit. Sandra had already met both at other conferences so it seemed a good idea for Sandra to come along too, to help spot them at the airport, to answer any phone messages in transit, and keep them entertained in the car on the way back, all of which she managed admirably, for which I’m hugely grateful.

However our journey was blighted in both directions by the dreaded Friday Night Traffic Syndrome. Klaus-Peter let us know that we weren’t to worry about the delay in getting to him as he was happily ensconced in a bar in terminal 1 watching the Germany-France game, naturally. When we finally got to him it was 1-0 to Germany and about 20 minutes to go so, naturally, he wasn’t for vacating his front row seat so promptly.

The easy answer was to leave Sandra and him watching the footy and sinking the beer, naturally, whilst I went off to find Martin at terminal 3. This is about a 20 minute round trip and we arrived back at terminal 1 just after the end of the game. I learned then that France almost equalized in an 89th (or thereabouts) minute cliff-hanger which would have ensured that KPH’s adhesion to his seat would have persisted for a further 30 minutes of extra time and penalties and all the rest, naturally. So we were all greatly relieved that France’s hopes were dashed there and then!

My thanks again to Sandra for stoically putting up with a game of footy and even more stoically putting up with the pint which KPH insisted on putting in front of her, naturally. I think the pint might have also oiled the wheels of international entente cordiale in the car on the way back which let me get on with the driving without worrying too much about being sociable!

So, apart from the bloody traffic on the M25, it all turned out to be a jolly good thing, naturally.

They arrived at 8.30 pm; hungry but in good spirits. Excellent Surrey University caterers had kept some food for them, and there were still bottles on the table, so all was well.

And all they remember – the feeling was great
As they sat with their hands ’twixt their mouth and their plate;
No voice but was slating this traffic of ours,
It wasn’t their fault it had all taken hours;
They poured down their throats the last measure of wine,
Or beer for K-P, though not in a Stein;
Which (the delegates voted their feat unsurpassed)
Was no more than their due who brought speakers at last!

(With apologies to Robert Browning: How they brought the good news…!)