Monday, June 15, 2015

London Day 1 – In Which Air Canada Delays Flights and Irons the Lettuce, and There are Chavs.

Terra isn’t in this picture as she was part of a protracted goodbye that was going on across the street at her house. Very grateful to her parents Chris and Cheryl for letting us take her with us! I don’t have Jacob with me this time as he is slaying fish in Sointula for the summer so it is great to be able to have Terra along for the ride.
There are times when I love the smugness that living on an Island affords us all: Vancouver traffic reports of hour waits on this bridge or stalls in that tunnel mean nothing to me and my 5 minute commute; I can Gulf-Island name-drop with the best of them (an excellent method of quickly learning who is local and who isn’t), and of course we all know about Island-time: slow down,would you, you maniacal mainlander.
And then there are the days when living on an Island is possibly the most annoying thing since long hair and lip gloss. These days typically occur when it has become necessary to get off this god-forsaken rock in the middle of nowhere and go Somewhere More Interesting for a period of time. These are the days when the usually calm, garden-variety Islander can be found running around like a crazy person, screaming “Why is there no bridge? Just BUILD A BRIDGE ALREADY’'”. This normally sane individual is usually clutching some sort of boarding pass and has just learned that his or her hopes of arriving at YVR in time to catch their flight to Somewhere More Interesting have just been crushed. Weather, a broken ferry, a faulty engine, an act of God: who knows and at the time, frankly, who cares. All we know is that we are stuck on an island and might miss our flights. It’s enough to put us teetering on the edge of sanity.
As you may have guessed, yesterday was one such day. Despite my best-laid plans of arriving several hours early at the airport for our 2pm flight to YVR, I still came dangerously close to becoming the subject of a viral video. You know the ones where a seemingly normal woman loses her mind at the airport ticket agent and regresses to her early childhood in a matter of seconds. All was well until about 1:30 when I noticed that nothing appeared to be happening up at Gate 6. Zoe and Terra had already found another of their friends and were chatting away obliviously. Sure enough,a voice came over the loud speaker informing us that our flight was delayed as the plane was “still in Vancouver’'” and he would update us shortly. “Just once, JUST ONCE I would like to get off this rock on time” stormed the man next to me, having learned he would miss his connection. I still had a degree of smugness as our flight to London didn’t leave until 6:30pm but that didn’t last long as our departure time was updated to 3:45pm, then 4pm and then 4:20pm. All this, while the 3pm and 3:30pm ticket holders were told that their flights would leave on time. How does that even work? As the pile of dashed hopes and dreams grew larger and larger at Gate 6, I felt my anxiety kicking in. Apparently so did Zoe’s although she was a little more on the ball than me. The announcer made the mistake of saying out loud that there were a few seats on the 3pm but if everyone could just sit ‘sit tight’ she would work it out. Zoe looked up at me from her chicken wings and said “Mum! Go get us on that 3pm flight! GO!” I must have been looking despondent as she added a “NOW” to her command which was enough to get me up and moving to the counter. Everyone else had the same idea but I made it there first and was delighted to see a second ticket agent at the counter and even more delighted to see that I knew him! We hadn’t seen each other in years but that did not stop him from some how getting the three of us on the 3pm flight. Bless his heart twice over as I noticed as we were boarding that our original flight time had been changed again to 5:20pm – we would definitely have missed our London flight. Apparently, it’s who you know,when you live on  an island….
We arrived at YVR and made our way to our gate but it looked like perhaps the Zombie Apocalypse had already happened and I had missed it: the airport was weirdly deserted.
Terra and Zoe were observing various places where a zombie could be hiding but really there was no one, dead or alive, to be seen anywhere. Station Eleven…?
And no one at our gate either:
We were also the only ones on the plane:
No I’m just kidding about this last one. We did get on first though. Apparently I wasn’t paying attention again and we just went up and boarded with the fancy Priority One Best All Round Nobel Prize Passengers and no one said anything.
I was thrilled to see that Terra had June and Tony sitting next to her. You may recall June and Tony from previous trips to the UK. They are ubiquitous. I will try and get a photo of them next time I see them. I had the slighter-younger Nigel and Elaine next to me. It was good to see them again, too.
I won’t dwell on the flight but suffice to say Air Canada did not disappoint in the food department in that it was terrible, as expected, and the flight attendants had a collective age of 8624, as per usual,which I mention only because they seem to be long past the point of enjoying their work. I once flew Hawaiian Air and the flight crew were also all Senior Citizens but were so jolly and happy that none of that mattered. We all laughed and helped each other out on that flight but not Air Canada. There was about 62 of them  it seemed, if you ever needed to get up and walk the aisle – I seemed to be perpetually in their way as they pushed this or that trolley up and down, handing out small plastic boxes filled with what was once chicken, or a salad of ‘vegetable ends’ as Zoe referred to them. I swear I saw them ironing the lettuce again behind their curtain on one of my forays for water.
Anyhow it all worked out in the end and we made it to Goodenough College, our somewhat Spartan but perfectly adequate accommodation that is so reasonably priced I don’t mind one bit if the 1930’s plumbing insists on rumbling all night. We have a three bedroom flat with full kitchen etc. for 120 pounds per night, in the Bloomsbury neighbourhood of London. Beds are comfortable and the shower is strong, and we are in a community of international students and travellers. I am looking forward to breakfast in the Great Hall in the morning. It’s very Harry Potter here.
And of course the signage is superb so far.
It doesn’t seem very Karma to dispose of karma shelf items. What are Karma shelf items anyway? I see it is in the basement laundry room now so I will have to go and have a look.
They love their bikes here and have a corner set aside for bike pumps. How quaint!

Apparently, someone doesn’t like elevators. Or this could be some sort of veiled warning about the elevators here.
Dinner was a delicious Italian affair at a local restaurant and was made even better by the appearance of a drunk Irish woman wearing a bra, black cut-offs and ripped lacy tights who waltzed over to a very-tired looking Zoe and said “Awww, I taught she was asleep. God bless her little heart” before being ushered away by our authentic Italian waiter. She was followed closely by a couple of chavs (the name foisted upon certain members of Britain’s youth sub-culture who insist on wearing matching track suits, shouting abuse at whoever will or won’t listen, and generally being anti-social). These two were quite young and as they walked by I said “Hey look it’s a couple of chavs!” Without missing a beat, Zoe looked at them and said “Child Chavs”. Nice. She is coming along very well and may one day inherit this blog.
We are looking forward to our first real day in London tomorrow, or today, or whatever day or time it is right now I have no idea. But stay tuned!
Thanks for reading,

No comments:

Post a Comment