The International Writers Magazine: From Canada to London -
It's the journey not the destination...
Took off from Toronto
to Heathrow via 747. Last back seat in front of the clatter of meal
preparations and the toilet. An attractive 30-something blonde sat next
to me. Ill call her Samantha. She had squeezed into a low-cut
white cotton top that revealed a deep-dish cleavage, black trousers
and blazer, high heels and simple gold-ring earrings. A mobile phone
strategically inserted in one ear, an ipod, notebook and the latest
issue of some Madison Avenue self-enhancement, Rich & Famous-gossip
womans magazine in her hands. My first thought was: marketing
(mind you, arent we all). I imagined her as being efficacious:
her presentation style a cross between cheerleader and drill sergeant.
The type of woman who manages to get up at 4:30 daily, works out, reads
several newspapers, drinks two large Columbian coffees before hitting
the office to complete a 12-hour day, only to agonize that she wished
she had more discipline.
She sat between myself and a gentleman who Ill call Bob. The type
of guy who is probably in strategic research. Easy going with a paunch.
Someone the big guys like to have around because he gets the job done
(without any glitz) , plays golf, drinks scotch and laughs at their
dirty jokes. They call him solid. A real team player. I doubt Samantha
plays golf aerobics or jogging is her thing. She probably feels
no compulsion to being a "team player," but realizes its advantage
and plays along. Men like her because shes sexy and only catch
a few key words while imaging her horizontally.
Samantha and I began talking and rarely stopped for several hours on
topics of business, current affairs, photography and relationships.
I discovered what a lovely person she was. To be with her fiancé,
she made arrangements to leave her London office, move to Toronto and
set up her business there. I realized that I shouldnt be so presumptuous
to assume someones character in such an off-hand manner.
A black family sat in front of us when suddenly the mother and daughter
started to scream frantically, clambering over each other to reach their
father in his mid-thirties who was seated by the window.
I could see from the reflection off his window that he was having a
convulsion: vomit spewed up and dribbled down his chin and onto his
shirt like discarded oatmeal porridge. His body shook violently as his
eyes rolled back then his body sagged and became limp. The British
Airways crew immediately intervene, pulling, pushing and restraining
the family away from their loved one. They examined and resuscitated
the man back to semi-consciousness. The crew cleaned up the mess, removing
his shirt and transporting him to the back of the plane behind closed
curtains. A murmur spread throughout the plane. Eventually he was returned
and remained in a calm constitution throughout the trip. Fly B.A. And
see the sights.
As the pilot circumnavigated the Jumbo along the brown serpentine of
the Thames, an air of expectation grew amongst the passengers. "Theres
London Bridge," people exclaimed as we passed several hundred feet
above Tower Bridge: the oldest readily identifiable building in London.
It is a wonderful city to fly over. There is of course not an inch spare
in the heart of the city, which makes the grass that grows in Londons
parks more apparent and as precious as gold. Monuments of recognition
protruded upwards like beacons of light during the blitz. The plane
seemed to glide down effortlessly through whispers of clouds, only breaking
the momentum when the wheels touched the black tarmac with a puff of
smoke and a final thud that released those lingering moments of anxiety
and the plane seems lighter from the sense of relief. Landing at Terminal
4, I now had to catch the Terminal 1 bus for my flight to Belfast. Naturally,
the bus took forever to arrive - only to be driven like it was on a
holiday excursion with a chatty, affable driver.
This was compounded by peculiar boarding procedure to embark on BMI
to Belfast. It required everyone to rush in no specific seating
order to a check-in clerk only to suddenly wait in agonizing
queues. Then corralled down a ramp to wait a further 15 minutes and
whisked along like rabid lemmings to wait onboard. Not only was the
procedure inept, but half of BMIs check-in counters were inoperative
due to computer glitches.
© Clive Branson
Nov 16th 2004
From Bangor to Belfast
all rights reserved