My boss worried when he sent me to Paris again

25 June 1989 British Airways 5308 Birmingham to Paris CDG, Business

A couple of years earlier, I had taken a trip to Paris to learn a new product. Here was the next course, a chance to learn about the new version, much improved. By now the company had changed their policy about Business Class travel, and the company intended to send me in Economy Class. A line I had been taught by my father-in-law (speaking about railways) was to claim that as I travelled in First Class (Business Class for air passengers) on my own account and didn't see why I should demean myself when travelling for the company. This didn't cut much ice. A call to the company travel department revealed that they would make the reservation in Business Class if I paid the difference myself. So I sent them a cheque for eight pounds. That is all the difference was. You see, nobody generally pays the full economy fare. If I were comparing a discounted fare with the full business fare, then it would have been much more noticeable.

So it was that I packed my bags, went to the airport and checked in for the flight. It was a glorious Sunday afternoon, I remember. The flight was all it could hope to be, and on arrival in Paris I stood around waiting for something to happen. Eventually it did. The main problem was that there was a baggage handlers dispute in full swing, which meant that the time from disembarkation to retrieval of checked luggage was rather above the average. Still, it was early and I was able to catch the Air France bus to the Arc de Triomphe and the metro to La Defense. La Dİfense is the new and important office area just outside Paris, and now, by all accounts, boasts a helicopter service to Charles de Gaulle airport. It hadn't started when I was there, else I might well have taken advantage of it just for the experience. After checking in to Novotel La Defense and looking around the area, I decided it was a good place to be, and took a couple of photos just to make sure.

The week turned out to be fairly easy for me, as the course had two target audiences: those who didn't know the product at all, and those who wanted to learn what was new in the new version. The former, naturally enough, took longer, but the whole thing was very much worthwhile.

During the evenings of the week, I took time out myself to see some of the less famous sights in Paris, and had a very good time doing it. Near to the Pompidou Centre there are a couple of Mexican restaurants. One is good, one is not-so-good, and I can't remember which is which, or either of their names. If you are visiting, therefore, please choose carefully. Make sure you do visit the Pompidou Centre too. Beware, for one night a week it is closed. Check first.

CNN continued to gain ground, as it has since. It was one of the few things I watched while I was in Paris, and I remember just one item of news I saw. Apparently some cartoon characters called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were all set to become the next big thing. The item covered aspects of violence in cartoons, associated marketing implications and even touched on whether the product needed to be good in order to be successful. Their predictions seemed to be largely correct.

30 June 1989 British Airways 5309 Paris CDG to Birmingham, Business

After an eventful day, my birthday, the course director arranged for us all to have lunch after the course finished. This meal went on and on for what seemed like an eternity, with members of the other nationalities swapping stories about their time in National Service and leaving me out because the British don't share in this custom. Then we all went back to the hotel and on to the airport. My flight was later in the evening, and I had a reservation with British Airways, but wanted to change to Air France, because their service was said to be rather better.

No, their flight was full, so I stuck with British Airways. As it turned out, this was the right decision because the British Airways flight was only one hour late, whereas the Air France flight was later still. I telephoned my wife from the departure lounge, and while not ecstatic, she accepted the news well enough. Also, a school-friend of mine who now lives in Sydney, had called earlier to wish me a happy birthday. This was an unexpected surprise. He called again later, when I had got back home, and in the ensuing months, I would become very grateful for his call.

The flight itself was very ordinary, with the usual service I have come to expect from Business Class travel. As we left the airport to go home, the Air France flight was just landing.

I was glad to be home, but not as glad as my manager. He was extremely nervous at having sent a member of his staff away two weeks before the latter was due to become a father for the first time. As it turned out, my son was born three days after my return to England.

My son, David

Next page
Previous page
Back home