Sunday, July 8, a slightly more civilised time
New York Travel Blog› entry 2 of 4 › view all entries
I could not have sat further toward the back of the plane. It was the last row, worse still, it was the window seat. No leg room, no space next to me – I thought it would be painful. I had no idea.
My legs were the first to go.
With no free TV to entertain (Virgin is good; films, tv
programmes, even games against fellow flyers) I was happy to try and sleep.
With the complimentary signature Virgin eye covers and my new canal-closing ear
phones wedged firmly in place, I fell asleep. Every-so-often I was disturbed by
the Oriental girl next to me who, deep in sleep, would let her head drop on to
my shoulder. Dutifully, I would jerk my shoulder to get her off. It was, kind of, amusing and yet sweet as both both the girl and her male compagnion slept, heads bobbing sometimes in unison as the effect of sleep relaxed them till their sub-conscience kicked in.
Strangely, when I woke up for good, it was her boyfriend sat there. I had been oblivious to that, but not the pains; the feeling in my legs had not returned, and now my neck and shoulders had lost movement, or at least, when I did it hurt.
After waking up, the stewards, who seemed permanently stressed, walked along the plane offering coffee to passengers. Except me. Although it is a no-frills airline, I expect some service. I don’t think that is classed as a frill.
I noticed how curious
But what struck me was the difference between the
Arriving out of the cab with one third of my dollars gone, I was greeted by an empty terminal. A cleaner walked a trolley across the familiar looking floor. It was clean; there was no one around to stain it. No one except me; a lone English figure clutching a rucksack which contained all the belongings that I had - a laptop, a phone, my passport, an unimaginative book by a TV writer who, with such pedigree, could have done better, and some cash. What wasn’t in the bag that I had was time and plenty of it.
I had arrived in NY at 4am English time, 11pm Eastern Time.
Not having slept. Arriving in the terminal at about 1am, it should not have
been such a surprise to be so empty, but it was. I can not imagine Heathrow
empty, even with the events of the last few days (terrorist attacks, car
bombings and threats) I can’t imagine there not being throngs of people
officiating something or other. I had the run of the place. Which was just as
well as there was no one to watch as I idly searched up and down for some sense
or order to the procedure that I had to under go to get on to the next plane.
Eventually I found a poster that hinted that I should be at Ticketing B. But
not until 6am which would be in five hours time. Five hours to kill with little
to do. I continued my quest, this time searching for coffee; if I hadn’t slept
by now, I might as well wait until the next flight. I would hate to end up
sleeping in a strange place on the outskirts of
No coffee but I find a lost soul.
Perhaps my age, give or take. He appeared tired and was unshaven, a large
rucksack draped across his back with hardly anything in it, but at least it was
something. A glance confirmed that he was lost too and was searching. As you
would do on seeing the first soul in a strange place, without a word we carried
on our separate journeys. Mine led me down an escalator (that can’t be
correct?) and up the other side having surveyed an empty cafeteria, although,
I didn’t understand what he said two, maybe three times.
Quickly I ascertained that she had no English. Or French. Matt does German at school, but I really haven’t helped him with his homework as much as I should have. The form clearly says ‘Birth date’; I tried every variant – anniversaire, anniversary, B-I-R-T-H-D-A-Y. And failed. At some point it clicked and she wrote today’s date. I showed her my form and, pointing to my year of birth said as clearly as I could ‘my birthday’. I think that was when clarity struck her. Although it didn’t continue. I tried hard to explain about gender. I thought it would be really easy, if Jane could teach a man who had no previous contact with human kind, surely I could converse with an educated fellow European? Well, apparently not.
I left her with my pen as I leapt toward the slightly stern and authority-and-gun wielding immigration officer; I hope she made it through.
He was asking about Continental it turned out. The decamped
traveller had given up on his journey to find check in. Now he was reclined
against a glass window, bags laid near him, phone charging in a borrowed plug
socket in the wall. Conversation started around our travel woes. He had missed
a plane and then had to get from
Conversation flowed. I eventually took off the burden of my
rucksack and sat a bloke distance from him, slightly opposite, but not facing
him. Enough distance that if he turned out to be a homicidal maniac I would
have at least a sporting chance of making a get away. But that was not to be
necessary. It was probably thirty minutes, may be longer, when we did the
official introduction. Kenneth, a Doctor Who fan is married to Anne, a, wait
for it, a ‘Keeping Up Appearances’ fan. I hope she realises that it is a
parody. At some point he mentioned that, while courting, Anne had told him that
she wanted eight children. Eight!?! Alarm bells started to ring;
The main topic of conversation was economics. Apparently,
now is a really good time to buy property in
How else could a character called ‘Calvin Simms’ be based
on; Calvin, a ruthless and unpopular judge on a format show that was tired
several seasons back? And a show based on the ‘Blenheim’ family? Blenheim a
palace, Osbourne, its mockee an equal residence of importance in the
I want to read the book; there are no new John Grisham’s and it is the only one that I have. A dilemma: do I read a dire and cheaply plotted book to find out if a story emerges after page 28 or do I give in and spend the time thrashing numbers over a soduko grid?As I looked up from what had captivated me for quite some time, it occurred to me that people had emerged, the sun was starting to rise and the smell of coffee was not just wishful thinking. A family sat near, woofing bagels and coffee (or kwor-fee, as it is pronounced here). Movement was picking up apace, people getting their breakfast fill, and the clean up had begun; chairs had been carelessly left apart from the spoilt tables that they had nestled before. Rising up the escalator I was met by more people than I had not seen since Heathrow, security, flight staff, shop’s attendees, cleaners and passengers. The contrast of the hours was staggering. Where I had strolled leisurely before was now combusting with masses. Queues had begun and in places there were queues for queues. But through the security I was filed to a waiting area with a window over looking the rising sun emerging out of the long Island horizon, gold dancing across the (