Home » Travel

Start spreading the news

Posted on 22nd February 2007. No Comment

Email This Comment Email This Comment

Ruth Sherlock and Pat Scanlon take us through their jailbreaking adventure to New York…

never underestimate… | decisions, decisions | ich bin ein jailbreaker

Never underestimate...
“I don’t like students” Our faces dropped and the ‘quack’ went out of our duck puppet hats. Just thirty minutes earlier we had been part of the motley crew of jailbreakees huddled outside the high security prison under the snowy cover of darkness clad in lion, kings, brides and cowboys outfits and dreaming of exotic locations. Now this stout northern bus driver hit us with a reality check and though we bribed our way onto the bus (never underestimate the power of sweets) we saluted the Angel of the North with a photograph for our landmark proof that we had made it out of Durham!

Once in Newcastle we ‘forgot’ to pay out metro ticket and soon found ourselves in the not so international Newcastle airport. Proud to have arrived there so quickly, we put on our best smiles and bounced enthusiastically up to the check in desks. Unfortunately, the six jailbreaker pairs before us had done the same and we were therefore met with an exasperated and resounding ‘no’ from the airport staff. Disheartened, we sought comfort in Greggs pasties only to discover that whilst munching those delectable bites two jailbreakers had done what had seemed impossible and secured themselves immediate flights to Tenerife. The ‘puppy eye’ trick was pulled out along with the sycophantic grooming and eventually we got an almost certain one way flight to Tenerife for that afternoon. Relieved that the pasties hadn’t ruined it all, we went to ponder on how we might get back from our lovely holiday destination when a ruffled looking British Airways Customer Services representative (who I had previously envisioned with horns and a tale after she had sour facedly repudiated our appeal) ran up to us telling us we had flights to London secured with BA should we want them. This lovely lady, Jude, turned out to be the star of our show. Her manager, (who incidentally is Sting’s sister), had had a change of heart from her usual ‘no’ policy and decided to take two jailbreakers to London.

Decisions, decisions
So now we had to gamble, did we sacrifice our Tenerife flight for a chance to go to Heathrow (where we might win bigger stakes but equally get stuck and end up in somewhere awesome like Slough) or did we settle for this prime British holiday island? Parents always tell you the harder road is more rewarding, but did that apply to Jailbreak? We couldn’t decide and yet flipping a coin just didn’t quite seem appropriate. With 5 minutes to spare before check in closed we threw our bags onto the B A flight and decided to risk it. From then on we were swept along on a magic carpet (well, aeroplane) of fortune. Jude happened to be on the flight with us and having arrived in Heathrow she dedicated the next 2 hours of her free time and phone credit to getting us out of London. With us about to explode with adrenaline this was no easy task and as the time went buy we could have cut the tension with a knife and eaten it. If this proved fruitless we would be spending the evening in an airport trolley whilst others partied in Tenerife. Meanwhile, Sian from the Newcastle press office increased our sense of anticipation by periodically phoning to find out where we were going, Jude wasn’t revealing anything. Eventually with a subtle smile Jude put the phone down and directed us towards to Terminal 4. It was in the elevator that I let out a guinea pig squeal as it dawned on me: Terminal 4 was long haul international!

I had never been to the special services area of British Airways and had never dreamed that I would end up there donned in shoddy clothing, a large slightly smelly backpack and a quacking duck on my head. Never the less there we were. Amidst the swankily suited, pot bellied business men emerged the very handsome and impeccably mannered Gerard. After asking us to reduce our baggage size (he didn’t even flinch as I passed him some crumbled up sandwiches and an old banana skin) he smoothly turned to the check in Desk assistant and requested us two “World Traveller Plus” tickets to JFK.

This illusive class can be better termed the old business class, so whilst we weren’t provided with beds, our seats had about a million comfort buttons to play with. My merriment (that wasn’t entirely caused by general) excitement caused me to spend a large amount of the flight getting the duck puppets involved in all forms of flight activity..the naughty ducks even made it to the mile high club.

Ich bin ein jailbreaker
Upon entering the airport we felt like celebrities as a charming JFK official plucked us out of the 2 hour long immigration queue and swept us straight through. Having got this far the prospect of returning home on a plane in 3 hours time was less than desirable. So we were delighted when he told us that we could use our return ticket whenever we liked. Still not able to believe our luck, we jumped on Manhattan bound metro and spent the next few hours exploring the delights of the Big Apple. After successfully not getting run over by the swarm of yellow taxis, we tried to blag our way to the top of the empire state building but a slightly confused manager compromised with a concession. After fighting the bitter cold and contemplating whether it was too late to try and blag a flight to Hawaii, we revived ourselves with food. We wondered around the crazy neon glamour of times square, bought some dollar printed toilet paper as a souvenir (classy) and then subwayed our way to China town.

After nearing twenty four hours of no sleep, not even the lollipops were giving us enough energy, we eventually took the subway back to the airport. Going uptown at 3am on the subway is an experience in itself. The graffiti on the windows, the cheap plastic stained seats, as it chugs through sooty passages give it an austere quality. The poverty that still exists in this city is evident; a mentally unstable homeless woman whispered to herself in the corner and reorganised her many bin bags, and an African-American hobbled in on an old crutch and his coarse time worn voice sang for money.

The next few hours went by in a sleepless daze, we waited at the airport and tried to negotiate its complex postal system to send Duck an ever so slightly smug postcard before getting on our free flight home (economy class this time). Pat’s Dad picked us up from Heathrow and took us to Pat’s house for a much appreciated sleep on Saturday evening. After 32 hours of no sleep, high adrenaline and getting through over 3446 miles we relaxed. Though it is a painful cliché, it really did feel like it had all been a dream.

We have gathered a large number of people with promises of sponsorship, (including some unlucky members who sponsored us per mile..) thus once we have collected it all we hope to have raised at least £500.

No Comment »

  • m said:

    hmm 500 pounds? isnt that the cost of a return flight to new york? what a coincidence..

  • m said:

    hmm 500 pounds? isnt that the cost of a return flight to new york? what a coincidence..

  • m said:

    hmm 500 pounds? isnt that the cost of a return flight to new york? what a coincidence..