We’re finally on the Stenaline HSS between Belfast and Stranraer on the way to Bathgate to transport the former Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Stephen Glenn) back to his hometown of Bangor (County Down).
However, getting here has not been without some drama. First off, Stephen had difficulty in getting the van booked. Then when he had it booked, he arrived back in Aldergrove and almost as soon as he landed back on Irish soil his mobile telephonic device sounded – a number he did not recognise – and he was asked if that was “Michael Campbell”.
Alarm bells were sounding in his ears. Van company number 1 had let him down – no van. But they had fixed the problem – van company number 2 (McGladery commercials ltd) was coming to the rescue (rescue being the operative word of the day -Ed).
Next difficulty – I managed to get on a number 2 metro not a number 1 bus on my way into Belfast city centre from Glengormley – thus meaning that I rang Pam Tilson to get her to met Stephen for a coffee before I would meet him. Incidentally, Pam and Stephen share an actual birthday – same day, same month, same year.
After a quick coffee in Costa at Victoria Square, we headed in a Fonacab taxi to Prince Regent Road to hire the van at van company number 2. Hired it, drove via the Outer Ring to Stenaline and then we hit the most spectacular drama of all.
We arrived at the security gate and I was asked to open the back of the van to show what was in it – at this point in #operationevacuate absolutely nothing. I jumped out, went to back of van, stuck key in rear door and then – SNAP! I screamed. An expletive was heard…
What had I done?
The key had snapped off in the lock – and when I looked it was worse – it was the ignition key. Another expletive was heard!
Now what were we to do – with just over an hour to go until the sailing…
Fortunately, the security team (including the very pleasant Alanna (query spelling)) were amused by our predicament, and the four of us remained on happy terms as one of the lanes at security at one of the busiest ports in Europe was blocked.
Stephen phoned van company number 2, and another Fonacab taxi was despatched with the spare key onboard. When it arrived it was in fact from a rival taxi firm Valuecabs so we were particularly surprised…
New key, we showed Alanna that we were not people traffickers and then got on our way to get checked in and board the Stena HSS.
Better luck next time?
We’ve just bought a ticket each in the raffle on board in aid of Macmillan cancer care – let’s hope that we are a little bit more lucky than the rest of the day…
Watch out for further updates on #operationevacuate on twitter.com