Arriving... / 28 September 2014
First class out, disgraceful class back.
I did get apologies: one from cabin crew who had forgotten my requests, one from the Greeter for not keeping an eye on my welfare (on my journey back from Tokyo). But I was in too much pain to value them.
My wheelchair arrived at the cabin door, together with an assistant to manage my crutches and the bags of wheelchair paraphernalia.
I was then escorted to a waiting area very full of resigned Indian women in flowing saris waiting for airport wheelchairs. And left there.
I waited patiently for a while, but nothing was happening. I was actually feeling too unwell to hang about and managed to find a supervisor to ask why I'd been abandoned. She could think of no good reason. She put my crutches and bag under the next Heathrow chair that came in and instructed the pusher to let me wheel alongside her when she escorted the next Indianne through passport control.
Passport control was simply out of control. The queues were horrendous. And my smiling, escorting assistant moaning all the time about having to transport 2 people with different flight numbers.
I then got handed over to a porter who would transport my suitcase (when we found it) through customs. The carousel had been needed for the next flight so 901 bags were in heaps around the place.
The porter and I were then reunited with the Indianne so that he could also take her bags through customs.
Customs officials were preoccupied standing over scattered suitcase contents strewn over the floor.
Level one of the car park was closed and the queue for the lifts was unsafe for wheelchair users due to the frantic jostle of backpacks and trollies by unthinking people.
And carpark pickup was temporarily closed (originally due to too many cars unable to move, but things had improved a little). I was left shivering in the cold while my taxi driver argued to be allowed to pick me up.
I had arrived at Heathrow a good half an hour early, but left several hours late.
England has that familiar dusty green
and greyness that not so much welcomes the
wanderer but seeks cat-like, to ignore the
flagrant act of desertion. Busy; lacking
the organisation, and indeed the charm,
of the officious, or, of the more laid-back
nations, she also lacks the energy of
youth. I feel as if I've accidentally
rolled into a retirement shelter where the
staff have been absent for weeks. And the gentle
old folks fluster, disempowered by the thought
that they have truly, already done enough.
The green edges slowly into an autumn
shaded brown with discarded leaves that pile
in gutters to be wept over by cold rain;
skeletons bending empty-handed into
the lost farewell of a sad-mannered grey sky.