The weather this morning was horrendous. Too much rain, very windy, humid. Not at all pleasant. For some reason known only to the rain god, I was spared a drenching when I went for my hairdressing appointment.
Gordon, my hairdresser, is one of those people who has either just done the same thing that you’re excited about or has done something better. What he does, without realising it (or maybe he does and is just evil) is to denigrate what you are about to do by not spurring on your excitement. I’m not really bothered by him – after all, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll ever fly a helicopter or perm old ladies’ heads – but today made me laugh.
“Going on holiday soon?” He asked.
“Err, yeah,” I answered. “New York, this afternoon.”
“Oh, right. Yeah, I was in New York three weeks ago. Great place.”
And so it went. He told me all about skateboarding in Central Park (not him, I hasten to add), how to get cheap accommodation (top hotels, apparently, reduce their prices significantly on a Saturday after 4pm). This latter one was pretty useless advice if you think about it. I mean who is going to go to New York for a holiday and not have any accommodation booked, hoping the hotel you want to stay at will have reduce price rooms when you get there? And it’s not just him – he has a wife.
Anyway, Gordon did a great job on my hair, which is all I really care about and I headed back home under a gradually darkening sky.
There was more rain and more wind and I was beginning to think I’d need to order a taxi to take me to the station but, half an hour before I was due to leave, the clouds parted and the sun blazed away any remaining damp. Perfect timing. I grabbed the suitcase and left the house.
As I crossed the road I felt a few drops and grimaced. But this was just a joke and no more rain fell on me. All the way to Heathrow, in fact.
As my coach crawled along the M25 I had a text from Mirinda saying she was already at terminal 4, at Café Rouge. It was a long time early!
While I gave myself two hours to travel the 15 miles, I still managed to take longer. This was mainly because the coach no longer services individual terminals but (apart from Terminal 5) drops everyone at the central bus station. From here, it’s a very long walk (about 20 minutes) to the Heathrow Express train station where you can board a train to Terminal 4 for free.
When I finally arrived the station indicator told me I still had 15 minutes to wait for the next train. When it arrived and I boarded, the doors closed, it went for three minutes (I timed it) then stopped at Terminal 4. So – 35 minutes in order to travel 3. You’d think there’d be a better way, wouldn’t you.
I met up with Mirinda and we transferred some items to the suitcase (how on earth does ‘two blouses’ become the entire contents of the Canary Wharf flat, is something I want to know) before checking it in at the desk. We’d already checked in online so it was just a matter of walking through security. We then headed for Gate 22.
When the sign at the airport says that a gate is 15 minutes walk away, believe it! You’d think I’d walked enough already but no, I still had the hike to Gate 22. We reached it with enough time to sit and chatter away, distracting Mirinda from the prospect of flying before boarding. I kissed her goodbye in the galley after which I headed towards the pleb-end of the plane.
And joy of joys (though not for the airline) the plane was half empty up the back and I had an empty seat next to me. Comfort and bliss. I could enjoy the window and still have an aisle seat. Oh, the simple things in life can still work their magic on me.
OK, I’m going to have a moan now so some readers may want to skip to the end.
An announcement came over the tannoy asking for the owner of a green rucksack to come forward and remove it from the overhead locker because it was too big. A short while later the call was repeated with the additional information that if someone didn’t claim it, someone would throw it off the aircraft. I’ll admit that I felt slightly apprehensive.
There was a guy who was sitting across the aisle from me. He was yabbering away on his mobile, cradling a guitar and not paying the slightest bit of notice to anyone but himself. He clearly had not heard the call and, you guessed it, owned the green knapsack.
I have no idea how they tracked him down but the two biggest, toughest stewardesses on board, wrestled him to the ground, ripped his head off and started playing football with it…
I wish! They merely told him to go and get it and bring it back to the pleb-end of the plane. Of course, it wouldn’t fit in the overhead locker but that was ok, of course, because he packs plastic bags for just such occurrences. He distributed all manner of things from backpack to plastic bags and spread them all through a large number of overhead lockers. He’s rather fortunate that half the plane is empty otherwise he’d be wearing everything instead.
What I want to know is, how did the backpack get by security? Surely the maximum size is slightly less than the capacity of an overhead locker. But what do I know. I just have my man-bag.
Of course, we had to sit in the plane for half an hour longer than scheduled because the control tower didn’t want us to leave but eventually we were off – up, up and away.
As we headed off, southern England looked gorgeous until being obliterated by murky grey clouds which eventually became all white and fluffy.
At JFK, it was rainy and humid. According to Mirinda it was one of the worst landings she’s ever lived through. I’m pretty sure I’ve experienced worse and didn’t think it was that bad. It did seem a bit slippery though. Standing in the queue for a yellow cab, however, was definitely no picnic.
We had a lovely taxi driver who eventually dropped us at the Holiday Inn, Wall Street and we collapsed into the very big bed.