Top tip for weary international travellers to avoid missing flights: don't confuse the time you are expected to land with the time you are expected to take off.
You can lift the context of this entry entirely from that one sentence. It was 10.15 as I stuffed the last of my odds and sods into my bag. Take off was 12.45 in my mind. An hour to get to the airport. An hour and a half to check in, over pay for a coffee, re-buy from Body Shop whatever might have been explosive in my bags, and board. Fine. But a last glance at my itinerary revealed take off was at 12.00. I was screwed and I knew it.
Despite ringing ahead to reception, they weren't ready for me to check out. The taxi rank guy was similarly ill-prepared. By the time I left the hotel car park it was 10.37. Singapore is only 5 hours away by bus, but it's classed as an international flight, so a full check in time is required. More screwed.
How long, mate?
Take an hour sir.
Anything you can do to shorten that?
I drive as fast as I can, but lots of traffic. Maybe 50, 55 minutes. When flight?
Oh. Not good sir. Will try.
To be fair, he was already trying. All cabs in KL are Protons, the Malaysian version of British Leylan, and they are severely underpowered with appallingly gooey suspension, but he was putting it through it's paces in what was always going to be a thankless task.
The start of our next colloquy was very nearly identical to the start of every conversation I'd had for days.
So, you rugby man?
I like rugby, sure
You a big man. You Australian?
Aaaaah, good. Where in England?
(I'd learned the correct answer to this whilst here)
Originally I'm from Liverpool.
The car quickened slightly.
Very much so. My father is a season ticket holder.
He stamped on the accelerator. Even in the soggy Proton my neck had to flex to keep my head still.
Plane at twelve sir?
I try. New car so not been fast yet, but I try.
Suddenly, all three lanes, the hard shoulder, slipways both on and off; all were fair game now. He even undertook a Maybach. But a real Liverpudlian was in his cab and clearly in a tight spot. This was a small chance to give something back to the team he had loved since the 80's. It had become a point of principle.
Frankly, it was terrifying. I got my book out to take my eyes off the road, but they kept drifting back to see this bloke drive. It was like living in a car chase.
Everybody I had asked the previous day had been clear: it takes an hour to get to the airport.
They were wrong. Liverpool fans can get there in 37 minutes.