Saturday, July 21, 2007

Chapter 1 - The pain of travel

I wondered why I’d carted a raincoat across to London when it had remained in my bag the entire time. No rain when I got the bus up to St Paul’s on Friday morning. And it was quite sunny when I left the building at quarter past five to trudge out to the airport.

It was as I was crossing the road to go down into St Paul’s tube station that a car started honking its horn, and I eventually looked around to see a colleague hanging out the window yelling my name!

He’d walked around to Barbican, and discovered that most of the tube lines were disrupted, and that Paddington Station had been closed (along with the Heathrow Express train). So he was having to taxi out to Heathrow instead. And in a serendipitous moment, I got a lift.

Though we did have to stop off at a cash machine, and then the driver needed to get diesel. Oh and having got through the slow traffic at Kensington, we then ran into queues closer to the Heathrow turnoff. And there was the Mercedes that tried to overtake when there wasn’t room for it to squeeze past and nearly took the side out of the taxi.

Although checked in online, my colleague hadn’t printed out his boarding card, and was after the 30 minute deadline so couldn’t get one from bmi departures staff. So while I wandered through the suspiciously quiet security with a few minutes to spare, I had this guilty feeling as he had to go on standby for the next flight.

Our plane took off with his seat empty - leaving a queue of standby customers waiting in the lounge. But luck shone on him too as he got a seat on the last flight of the night … which enjoyed an aborted landing attempt at Belfast City before he eventually got home a couple of hours late.

But at least we got home.

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