Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Back on the plane again

Taken for a ride
The day after the wedding the weather was bright and clear. We got up to see the Forth Bridge shining in the sun, and instead of spending the mid-morning vomitting into a gutter, I avoided eating any suspicious vegetarian sausages for breakfast and went for a walk instead. We walked down the coast from Queensferry to a pier and a large stone seal, which I got to sit on. I like sitting on statues of animals. When I was young I got to sit atop an enormous squirrel in Beckenham Place Park. I've sat astride a plastic panda in Taipei Zoo, and now I've barged a small child out the way in order to ride on a huge (freezing cold) seal a few miles from Edinburgh.

However, we couldn't spend all day mucking about with inanimate animals. Before long we were on the plane down to Heathrow. This was an easy journey, but when we returned to London we hit the same annoyances as when we arrived on Thursday. They spent years planning and building Terminal 5 for BA to fly all their planes out of, which makes it a shame that when we arrive at Heathrow we have to schlep for ages through a series of corridors, and then take a bus to Terminal 3. Once we got to Terminal 3, we joined a very long queue of people that were standing around, waiting to go through a single x-ray machine. This was a bit irritating, both because we had less than an hour until our gate closed, and also because there were four other x-ray machines that were switched off, as if Heathrow didn't think it was worth processing travellers through in an efficient manner in October. They'd done enough for the Olympics, right?

The queue got longer and longer, and eventually a harassed looking man came looking for anyone who had a gate closing within the next 30 minutes. Because we'd been standing around for a near-eternity, that meant we got to jump the queue, and I put my massively overpacked backpack onto the conveyor belt, lost my boarding pass and then wandered through to see if the five-pence piece on my trouser pocket would set off any alarms or not.

It didn't, but something in my bag did. There was a single woman checking bags, so my backpack went on a shelf for ten minutes while she went through an old lady's underwear, and then took everything out of my bag. It was chastening to realise how much stuff was in the bag. Four or five paperback novels. A newspaper from last Sunday. Five different magazines, some of which I'd bought in Singapore before we left. An ipod. A kindle. A laptop. A GPS watch. Three different banking authentication devices. Some deodorant. A USB memory stick. A boarding pass for my flight to Hong Kong two weeks ago. Five individually wrapped packets of biscuits. Some fudge. Some more pieces of paper. Some socks.

Once everything was removed, my bag was taken away again, and a grumpy Scot next to me grumbled that the security staff really enjoyed their jobs. I don't think that can really be true, unless they recruit people who just love meeting stressed out people who pack too much. Still, it was a bit annoying to try to stuff all my gear back into the bag, and then rush down to the gate, which was meant to be closing even though the plane was delayed take off by half an hour. All this rushing, just to wait for as long as possible. The plane was stuffed to bursting: we'd been offered 600 euros each to take a later flight, but work meant we couldn't delay ourselves. There was apparently a passenger sat on the jump seat at the back by the toilets, rather than a proper seat, but it's not like BA would break safety regulations is it?

I'm not going to complain. BA had managed to remember to feed me vegetarian food this time around, so the fact I'd had to rush past Pret A Manger, weeping that I hadn't the time to pick up a sandwich, wasn't going to upset me. Even if they had, Queensferry had left me with a bag of tablet, the Scottish, higher-sugar alternative to fudge, so I was ready to tough out the journey home. Only another nine hours to go.


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