Autumn is here, and what a relief. All summer, we business travellers have been surrounded by hordes of tourists, blocking up our airports with overloaded trolleys and giant sombreros.
Whereas normally I can park my precious Subaru right next to a bus stop under the watchful digital eye of CCTV, all summer I have been demoted to some far distant corner of a car park. After a trek back to the civilisation of the terminal, I then find that my favourite perch at Carluccio's has been swamped by a student group that makes the cast of The Young Ones look house-trained.
Watch any professional traveller pass through security and it is like a well rehearsed military drill — the laptop will be out of the bag, the belt unbuckled, the liquids neatly presented in small clear bottles and the shoes loosened ready for the conveyor belt. As a consequence, it takes under a minute to go through the process and it's entirely unstressful.
Introduce occasional travellers who haven't bothered to organise themselves, and it's like introducing a combine harvester to the M25 in rush hour — everything comes to a halt. Some apologise profusely, some moan about how complicated the 21st century appears to be, and some go bright red and silent with embarrassment.
When flying in the morning I use the flight to nap a little in preparation for the challenges that lie ahead, whereas an evening flight is an opportunity to catch up on paperwork and prepare for the following day. This structure forms the fabric of my routine — like coffee, it has a warm familiarity that gets one through a hectic day. Last week the structure was dismantled thanks to three young men sitting behind me loudly discussing their evening strategies in coarse detail.
Thankfully all this is now behind us for another year. The screaming children are safely locked up at school, the feral students have returned to their lecture halls and the slow-moving OAPs are back home in front of Countdown.
Presently I'm 20 minutes from Heathrow on a Friday evening, the plane lights are dim, only the irregular snoring of my neighbour
can be heard above the engines, and my reports are complete. Equilibrium has been restored and there's not a sombrero in sight.
Our entrepreneurial correspondent travels the world in search of business, soft beds and good breakfasts
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