1 February 2013

Our flight between London's Heathrow and Tokyo's Narita airports was as uneventful and unmemorable as most of the movies on offer to us cattle-class passengers.

The one moment of note came when, after having failed miserably to get any sleep during the first 10 hours of the flight, I finally nodded off, only to be rudely awoken by the stabbing pain of a stiletto being planted firmly onto one of my bestockinged toes, my foot having drifted into the aisle as I'd slept. What on earth the woman was doing wearing shoes like that on an aeroplane I don't know, and I shot her a glance that should dissuade her from making a similar footwear faux pas in the future.

On arrival we had the fiddley business of filling in landing cards, with details of hotels, phone numbers, identification numbers, length of stay, names of pets, inside leg measurements, that sort of thing. Tired and disheveled after 12 hours in a cramped, airless metal tube, it's pretty much the last thing you want to have to do. The only "good thing" was that one of our cellists was genuinely unwell, and so I was able to stop moaning about my throbbing toe and poor cinematic choices, and look after him instead. The poor fellow was as white as his shirt and feeling faint, so after helping him with his forms I got permission to escort him to the front of the immigration cue, much to the chagrin of many First Class passengers. Once through, we collected our bags and headed outside, where the cool, late-afternoon air helped clear heads and refresh lungs. The orchestra filled three waiting coaches which took us to the ANA Crowne Plaza hotel nearby.

The main aim then was to stay awake until 10pm, and then try to enjoy a solid 8 hours' sleep. I decided a bit of exercise would be good for both body and mind, and as luck would have it there was a rather nice 20 meter swimming pool on site. A few dozen lengths later I felt much better. Even my toe was now merely a dull ache. I used the free wi-fi in the 17th floor bar whilst sipping an Asahi beer, and retired to my room around 10 o'clock to awake, hopefully refreshed, on Saturday, ready for another long day of travel, concert and rugby.