Reflections from a higher plane pt.7

Travel anecdotes and notes

London Bridge

Down to Earth

A series of observations, imaginings and happenings on a recent globe spanning flight.

Whether fate or otherwise, my arrival in London from Frankfurt sees me miss the connecting bus from Heathrow to Gatwick by five minutes. On board the next scheduled service a full hour later, a fellow passenger with a Cockney accent announces to no-one in particular that "You can travel half-way around the world, yet the last few miles in London always take the longest." I agree with him, although his truism is equally valid in sometimes sleepy New Zealand, where the bus companies are owned by the very same British operator.

The journey isn't made any shorter by a woman near the rear of the bus, sharing with us all in far more volume than necessary a particularly colourful cellphone conversation. A neighbouring passenger, a middle-aged man with what resembles fatherly indignation at an ill-mannered off-spring, is less than appreciative, and tells her as much when the conversation finally finishes.

Predictably, Cellphone Lady is as well-mannered off the phone as she is on it, and interfering father's ill-judged comments produce anything but the peaceful journey the rest of us desperately seek. A five minute argument of complete stupidity ensues, Cellphone Lady all indignation, and yelling near the top of her lungs.

An ominous promise of "We'll sort this out when we get off the bus, yeah?" announces a temporary ceasefire, nearby passengers straightening their necks towards the road ahead once more. However, just when a semblance of calm is beginning to return, and my iPod is engaged as it should have been all along, hostilities break out again, somebody slapping somebody else, other passengers rushing to intervene.

Thankfully, I leave this sorry situation at the Gatwick Airport bus stop, Cellphone Lady physically restrained, protesting her sobriety in a less than convincing manner. I really have no idea what the middle-aged man was thinking of getting involved in such stupidity.

As luck would have it, the last hotel mini-bus of the night is waiting directly opposite the ground floor entrance, and I am whisked away to my extremely budget hotel in a matter of seconds. Finally a connection here in London has gone my way, a fact I am extremely grateful for when I arrive at my no-star lodging a few minutes later.