It was all going so well.
Well, just about.
We had reached the airport with no major problems apart from the usual traffic jams near Brent Cross.
Even managed to get the promised wheelchair .
Had to wait in a queue to check in.
Through security to the Departure lounge.
Only had to go through the metal detector three times (normal).
Amazing how a pack of tic-tacs can send the combined weight of Her Majesty and BAA into a frenzy.
Fortunately, no internal search this time (I remember it well).
So, it's still going well.
We decide to get some food for 'Our Dear Friend who can't eat so much or walk so far'.
(Later, I find out that Our Dear Friend makes Desperate Dan seem like like a rank amateur and, where appropriate, Red Rum seem like a knackered carthorse, but that is for another time)
Me?. I want a fag.
Search the whole of the Departure Lounge before finding, in front of my eyes, the Smoking Area which is right in the centre of the place.
One extra fag for the 'sure to come' hitches. And another just to be sure.
So far, so good.
Too good, so far.
Time to go and the wheelchair has gone walkies.
We have still to negotiate the tourist run (a zig-zag maze that Capability Brown would have been proud of) through the bowels of the magnificent airport that is Stansted.
I speak to the help desk.
We need another wheelchair.
There isn't one.
There must be.
Get me something, anything, a milk float, a flymo, anything.
Just something to get HIM onto that plane.
Does the nationality matter, sir?.
We have some illegal immigrants in detention who are looking for work.
They don't speak English, I must warn you.
I don't give two fucks, just get them here.
And so the four Russian Gypsy midgets with the Sedan chair were summoned.
'What the fuck is this?' I said when they arrived.
Well, sir, the choice was this lot or the Indonesian Rickshaw Drivers or the 4 Coptic Egyptians with Cleopatra's palliase. Would they be better, perhaps?
Ok, Ok, ok, the Russians will do, they'll do.
And so, stately as a galleon, we negotiated the rapids of the Stansted Departure lounge.
In front, a Boldscot in full regalia (bikers waistcoat, kilt and shaven head and, by this time, shaven brain, too)
A sedan chair with an Anticant prodding a walking stick through the front window looking for all the world like a B52 front gunner on a major mission to Japan with Audie Murphy.
Bringing up the rear, the diaphanously attired LavvyBloo looking, as always, as though she has just left Lady Chatterley's Gardener in a state of disrepair in the bushes somewhere.
Problem was I tried to speak Polish to the Russians.
Problem was they tried to speak Russian to me.
Problem was they didn't much speak Russian, only Roma.
Problem was they were so keen to get special status that they would always agree to anything in an effort to please.
Ok, we go plane, now, chodz.
Ah, plane, rozumiem.
Mister Anticant big wheel, gruba ryba, big wheel.
Go far into the sky, now.
Far far away, dalej.
The convoy somehow managed to manoeuver through the masses up stairs and downstairs in the general direction of the plane.
Any plane, just a plane, please. Just get me a plane.
The 4 Russian Gypsy midgets by this time had attracted a fan following amongst the various belly dancers and window washers that inhabit the airport. And then I made my mistake.
The leader of this circus troupe asked me (I think) where to go next.
I pointed and said 'him very important person, him from Hampstead, like Queen, him go thataway' and pointed towards the plane.
Unfortunately, the plane lay due East and the whistling Gypsy took it literally.
I could hear the news going in a square round the sedan chair and saw illumination in their 6 eyes ( a few battle veterans were in that troupe, must be said).
Far away, aaah
Wait a minute. Caliph, NO
I tried again to explain.
Not very well, obviously.
Now they were sure he was an Archbishop.
In an effort to secure refugee status they were lying prostrate on the runway crossing themselves with a fervour that would have made Father Ted jealous.
No Pope. Not here. No Pope. Never.
Aha, Paisley, I heard from them as they slashed a few Catholics in an effort to fast track a visa.
Him no King, him no Paisley, him like Queen.
By this time, the crowd had swelled to include a few paparazzi photographers who had been reliably informed that Posh Becks and Salman Rushdie were making a quick getaway to join Lord Lucan and Shergar.
Some transvestites clutching bottles of nail varnish remover and contact lens solution had even decided to tag along thinking they could bypass the handbag search.
In the distance, SOCA and the riot police were forming a phalanx together with a party of gay BNP members just back from the Holocaust Conference.
Suddenly, these guys got it.
Caliph, him like Queen Hamstead Heath.
As they were conducting a mass circumcision, in an effort to please the Gods of immigration, we managed to get on board the plane which by this time was garlanded with the foreskins of a mass of the populace including the Russians and a few airport staff who had been, rather reluctantly, co-opted into the whole project. Male and female.
We were finally welcomed onto the plane by the stewards, who had all donned Burqua as a sign of respect for the newly instated Caliph of Hampstead Heath.
As we took off, I mentioned to our, now honourable, Dear Friend that things had been relatively painless.
He looked up from his inquiry into an obscure Trollope novel and said 'Dear Boy, that's what the staff are paid to do'.
I was sure I could detect a wink, though it may just have been the severe nervous tic which didn't leave me till I got back to Glasgow.
Fuck me, what can I say?
Who said multi-culturalism is dead?