Saturday, 21 May 2016

Flying home from Pittsburgh....

I had plenty of time to kill on Friday, but eventually I found myself in a taxi heading for the airport along the interstate. My cab driver wasn't the most talkative man in the world, but we exchanged a few words and the rest of the time I simply gazed out of the window.

When we reached Pittsburgh I still had plenty of time to kill, but I wasn't in the slightest bit hungry having had lunch at Eleven, so I checked out the books and considered buying Helter Skelter, it's all about the Manson murders in the 1960s and it's one of those books I've been meaning to read for some time. In all honesty, though, I couldn't be bothered and instead spent the entire flight – it was only short – staring out of the window again.

Another bridge over a Pittsburgh River – I'll miss this great city...
There was a woman on the flight with two young children. Her husband was in New Mexico with her other kids and I swear I overheard her say that she had five kids in total. The kids with her on the flight were very well behaved and the tiny one (a baby) didn't make a sound. I ordered tea with creamer and was given a small pack of pretzels.

Our descent into Charlotte seemed slow. There was so much cloud that we didn't see land until the last minute. For a while I thought I was going to have to go through security again, but I didn't; I just walked to gate D11 and discovered that I had just 23 minutes before the flight to London started to board. I considered buying a magazine, but in the end I didn't bother. Nothing appealed and while I did eventually opt for Newsweek, the credit card machine didn't seem to be working so I boarded with nothing but my notepad and a pen to keep me company. I figured that if there was nothing I wanted to read, I'd have to write something myself.

After take-off I sat there writing about my journey, but it was short-lived. When the food arrived – we all had a choice of chicken or pasta – I stopped and afterwards watched 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Shining (both Kubrick movies and both brilliant). But two cans of beer brought on drowsiness and eventually I must have fallen asleep because when I woke up we were about an hour out of London Heathrow and 'breakfast' was being served – blueberry muffin, blueberry yoghurt – and I ordered a cup of tea too.

Apart from a bit of turbulence, the flight was smooth, although there were some hectic moments while we were still on the tarmac. I hate it when a passenger goes missing (although it's never happened before) as I wonder whether the cabin crew does anything about it. As I boarded I overheard one of the crew saying, "there's a woman on board without a boarding pass" and I felt like saying, "Well bloody well kick her off the plane, you idiots, she might be a terrorist!" I said nothing, but I quietly seethed with anger. I think it was the prospect of a long night flight that had made me feel so short-tempered. I hate night flights.

And then there was Sabrina Wong. Apparently they couldn't find her and came asking the passengers where she might be, as if we'd know. Later I saw a Chinese-looking girl walking nonchalantly down the aisle and thought, "that's her, that's Sabrina Wong!" She took a seat behind me and I spent a few minutes wondering whether she was the passenger without a boarding pass. I never found out.

I felt remarkably chirpy when the plane landed in the UK and decided to wait for my local cab company to come and pick me up. I sat in Terminal Three's Caffé Nero drinking tea and munching an almond croissant and after about an hour the mobile rang. It was the taxi driver. The quality of his driving left a lot to be desired, he kept stopping abruptly, shaking me from a light slumber. While I replied 'no problem' when he apologised, I wasn't happy, but I was too tired to argue. That's what I hate about minicab drivers, it's the luck of the draw who you're going to get and whether you're going to enjoy their company or whether they're going to be any good at driving.

I got home and inspected the garden. Things had certainly grown since I left a week ago.

My plan is to stay up until around 10pm and then hit the sack, it's the best way to deal with jet lag. Whether I go on a ride tomorrow, I don't know. Let's see how I feel.

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