It already seems eons ago. That Hat and I flew home. Wind whipped Time.
We changed Bag Drop queues in Terminal Five several times, sliding surreptitiously between one and another and then a third according to the expression of the airline official at the top . None bore smiles. When they say 23Kg per passenger, they mean it. So Hat and I had to drag our suitcases off to the Repacking Zone where several other over-enthused travellers had also thumbed their noses at 23Kg and were now pink faced and stressed, turfing out extraneous items which had seemed really important to take yesterday but less so in the face of British Airways Baggage Restrictions.
I don’t understand any of it. I don’t understand how the airline (and who actually said it was the World’s Favourite? Not me) can’t conduct a cursory summing up of the two (quite small) passengers anxiously waiting to see if their cases pass muster and whether the extra 387 grams they’ve failed to ditch or shuffle to another case will be overlooked because between them they weigh less than the man who has just checked his luggage through without so much as a whimper of complaint? I don’t understand why I must not make jokes about my jeans falling down when I’m instructed to take my belt off to go through the x-ray machine (surely a hint of humour during what looks like a day of unspoken tedium, if you discount the odd spat that emanates when people do actually crack jokes about falling down trousers, would make the whole thing easier to bear for everybody)? I don’t understand why I had to abandon three books and two glossies in the Repacking Zone (all sterile steel topped tables and incriminating weighing scales) in order to conform to my allowance if I can go and purchase exactly the same – and more – in the Departures Lounge and cart it all onto the plane anyway?
I don’t understand why, when we’re called to board, there’s a scrum to get on? Certainly a wildebeeste dash might be forgiven if you’re going Ryan Air but if there’s a seat number attached to your boarding card, that’s where you’re going, like it or not. And this isn’t the Tube: there’s not going to be a sudden Doors Closing announcement and the thing’s gone without you.
And on board, I don’t understand why I’m the only person paying attention during the safety demonstration? Because I have an outsized conscience? Because I’d feel really stupid standing up there gesticulating if nobody was paying the blindest bit of notice and instead flicking through the glossies they’ve just bought in Smiths’ to replenish the glossies they were obliged to chuck out. I especially can’t fathom the time and feigned expression of interest and sincerity that I waste on this exercise because in the face of an accident I promise you I will not remember to assume the brace position or how my oxygen mask works. I will do what most people will do: panic and shriek. And I will forget to remove my shoes as I don my life jacket on exit which I will indubitably, in my haste and my distress, inflate before I get out even though I have been told not to.
And then, in the event I find myself stricken and afloat somewhere in the Mediterranean, I really cannot understand how the airline believes a sports day whistle and a tiny match light is going to summon a rescue crew from a distant shore I cannot see?
But none of that really matters anymore: as I said, I’m home.