I wrote this one on the plane out here, so it appears here slightly out of sequence. The images are from a previous trip.
There we are in the Heathrow airport departure lounge, doing what you do in airports, mainly avoiding the bright lights of the shops just after the farting about in security. Of course no one complains about security, even if the queue was starting to look like a Royal Lying in State, and none of us wants to fall out of the sky once up there, even though the airlines food makes you contemplate that this might be a better option. Security area is like a changing room after a game of rugby as we all try and locate what we arrived in and try to keep our trousers up. It’s a grand start to dishevelment, which will last for at least another 10 hours.
Wandering through the retail jungle which is a corridor of unavoidable bright lights and perfume after Security, I came across a Middle Eastern group who’d brought their own mat. The large lady taking advantage of this portable prayer equipment was getting down on her knees to do what she was required to do and praying to Mecca. That’s the Holy City not the bingo hall chain of the same name here in the UK. Not quite sure how she knew which direction was east but she probably used her iPhone to find out. Incidentally the nearby tech store was selling one mobile phone that retailed at £1,700 as someone once said of my own work: “Who buys this stuff?”
After a long wait we get on the plane from where I’m typing this now. We’re off to Los Angeles to see the family. We last did this a year ago and had a great time but were cursed by COVID rules, especially on the way back where we had to run around like blue-arsed flies trying to get a test at LA airport as Boris the Bufoon had changed the rules at the very last minute. Not a happy experience. I seem to remember muttering ‘never again’ but the pull of family is stronger than the memory. I paid for this flight a year ago, as we were prevented from going on the date we chose due to COVID. Then they wanted 2,700 quid each to take us on the later date. Naughty is too short a word for them. Anyway they gave us a voucher refund for this new date, and last year we went with BA at a reasonable price. Enough of that. Virgin redeeemed itself.
We’ve just been served the in-flight meal, mine a passable imitation of a school dinner from around 1950, but the choccy goo cake after was a treat. Hers was a specially ordered healthy option that when revealed looked like it needed to be ditched as soon as possible and so it was,fortunately she had taken out a Pret A Manger insurance option, buying before boarding, so she won’t land hungry. As we approach LA they serve afternoon tea, it’s 3.00 in the morning for heaven’s sake. It was however quite good, a warm scone, jam and clotted cream should do wonders for the digestion.
The plane itself is a huge improvement from the BA model of last year looking clean and modern. It’s remarkably empty, especially in economy ( and in what they caller ‘Upper Class’ on Virgin but the rest of us call First. ) It’s no surprise really that Upper is empty, it costs in excess of 7 grand per person to be there. Who buys this stuff? Some did and could have had three seats to themselves in Economy, and bought a small car with the change in the fare.
We have, of course, left the house at home looking cleaner than it’s been since the last time we went away. What is it with this business of cleaning before you go away?
Travelling is tension on high octane. There are times in airport lounges when you can almost feel the crackle of tension in the air. It was of course worse last year with the myriad of tests to take before you got on a plane, thank goodness that has gone, but airports are awash with people looking concerned and it’s no coincidence to me that the place they all want to get to is their Gate. We are like sheep being herded and once through the gate we can sort of relax in the collection pen. Perhaps airports should have sheep dogs trained to round up passengers and get them in the right pen.
I’ve packed my camera and am looking forward to posting some unusual pictures of California as winter approaches. Landing in LA after a ten hour flight, travelling in my specially pre stained jumper and an old pair of trousers. Don’t believe this bunkum that air travel is luxury, it’s not, and anyone travelling in the latest high fashion needs their head seeing to. Travel in the clothes you’d decorate your house in.
More tension to follow as we go through US Customs and Immigration, in the past they have been the biggest collection of sour faced people assembled together in one place. Last years was an exception being naturally polite and friendly. He was very much the exception to the rule. The fuss caused by me bringing a Worcester Permian with me on one occasion ( it’s a fine English apple ) was enough for one sour faced factotum to send my suitcase through a special scanner. Obviously looking for other seditious fruit.
‘Did you pack this case yourself Sir’?
‘Yes,of course, I just don’t have the staff to do it for me’
Did I actually say this? Of course not, irony is lost on these people and is best avoided. Never joke with border officials, you may be clapped in irons.
Clear for landing. Doors to manual.