I'm not a huge fan of using u-joints either, but I found a spark plug socket that has u-joint built right into the drive of it. It was around $7 at the local Fleet Farm. Seldom do I change plugs now without it. Also, the extra inch or so for the joint in it gives that bit of extra clearance to get past the heat shields.
Oldschool, that's the same tool I own. You didn't raid my toolbox to "borrow it", did you? J/K! Good money spent on a very usable tool.
In a while, Chet.