We spent the final night of the tour in the Holiday Inn, Ayr, a mile or two down the road from Prestwick Airport, a dismal place whose motto 'Pure dead brilliant' illustrates a characteristic Scottish thrift in its simultaneous combination of hyperbole and litotes.
The return flight, to Girona in northern Spain - the nearest airport to our base in France offering convenient flights to Scotland - meant checking in at 5.30am. We arranged to meet in the hotel foyer at 5.15, ready to embark in the minibus for the airport. The hotel reception staff said they didn't do wake-up calls, so we left it to the troops to manage their own mobile alarms. We suggested setting them for 4.30am.
Easier said than done. We should all have done it then and there, before saying goodnight, rather than leave it to each individual:
*Few if any had changed the time on their mobiles on arriving in Scotland some days earlier.
*Some were uncertain whether UK time was an hour ahead of, or behind, French time.
*And did the UK put clocks forward an hour at the end of March? Or did they put them back?
*Some had failed to advance their mobiles to take account of Continental summer-time.
*Did this mean that UK time was two hours ahead of, or behind, France?
*Some were uncertain if Spain and France had the same time.
The upshot was that alarms rang at 2.30, 3.30, 4.30, 5.30 and - the following morning, to M.'s annoyance, his mobile having been switched off for the flight - 6.30.
A further consequence was that M. and E., two of the lads, as they liked to call themselves having discovered that this is a popular term for 'man' in Scotland, had virtually to be dragged out of bed at 5.30 by one of the lassies, as they liked to call themselves having discovered that this is popular term for 'woman' in Scotland.
(Actually I should excuse E. from all this horological uncertainty. He leads a charmed life disdaining any kind of technology. He has no mobile, iPad, iPhone, anything like that at all. The most up-to-date artefacts he has about him are a comb and a two-coloured crayon. Sometimes I'm quite envious...)
But they all made it. Head lassie B. has put up a photo gallery of the whole trip here. Do have a look, tho' you would hardly gather from it that this was a Seriously Grand International Choir Outing and that we actually gave a few concerts here and there.
As for J. and me, we weren't flying back but returning a few days later by car. Of course I too in my imbecility miscalculated the alarm, which rang at 3.30. I wasn't too disgruntled. I went back to sleep for a bit. We both got up to drive the troops down to the airport, I went back to bed on return and got up for breakfast 3 hours later, by this time feeling really quite gruntled.