A friend from the office in Birmingham who had the same birthday as me was also in Edinburgh that day, but working on something else. He was flying back to Birmingham that night. Ah! It looked as if there would be company that night after all. The only problem is that he was a notoriously heavy drinker. So it was that he and I spent the time between work and check-in in the pub just outside the office, followed by a couple more in the airport lounge, a couple more while in the air. I'm sorry to say that as we went over a bump in the sky, the drinks went everywhere, leaving a rather intriguingly shaped stain on my trousers. I wore a different suit the next day.
After landing, we both needed to drop some papers off at the office. This took us a couple of hours: two minutes to drop off the papers and the rest of the time in the pub.
Strangely enough, the next day he couldn't understand why he wasn't up to par. I pointed out how much we had drunk the previous night. He didn't seem to have counted the drinks outside his normal local, which represented perhaps six drinks on top of what he had consumed once we were back in Birmingham.
Shortly afterwards, he was disqualified from driving for twelve months. The accident that caused this decision very nearly disqualified him from more than just driving.
I am sorry to say that he died in a fire in March 1991. It seemed that he had been working late on Friday night and had returned to his flat rather than going home to London, and when a fire started in the downstairs flat, nobody knew he was there. He probably never woke and never knew anything about it. He will be fondly remembered by all who knew him.
A telephone call to the airport proved unrewarding. As far as they knew, the flight was full, but nobody was on the waiting list. A moment later, my name featured at the top of the previously empty list.
After a lift to the airport and checking in as a standby passenger, the wait started. The main problem was that the flight was delayed, and didn't seem to be coming at all at first. Eventually, after a wait of a couple of hours, it arrived. The aeroplane in question was a Hawker-Siddeley HS-748, not a large aeroplane, not a jet either. However, it did have a seat available for me. Not a very big seat, but a seat nevertheless. The journey was not graced with food, but just drink, and took an hour and a half, as compared with less than an hour on the BAC 1-11.
As the rear door opened after landing at Birmingham, an accent that came unmistakably from the Black Country said "What time d'you call this then?"
I wasn't complaining, as it was still three hours before the evening flight was even due. Not only that, but I benefited from the experience of another type of aeroplane. Probably it was an experience I could have done well without.