Thankfully the people I work with on this show are very used to traveling. At the International Arrivals area of Heathrow Terminal 5, hordes of disconsolate men stand in lines, brandishing hopeful name-boards at anyone who might be the right gender. When I got here I felt I had to step up, so I improvised with my iPad, and held it for all of five minutes before the passenger I’m meeting rang me. She has a working phone. She knows my number. Fucking great. I can sit down.
It’s about two hours since I got to the airport, now. I only just got there in time for the landing after a pile-up on the M4 forced me to Waze my way through Chiswick. Then I stood, shiny with my iPad board until some geezer glanced over to me and said “Don’t sweat it. It’s about two and a half hours wait.” Shit. I’m meeting someone with an American passport, coming in from Switzerland. Thank God she has a phone that works.
I’ve been watching all the meetings. Arrivals is definitely a more pleasant place to wait than departures. People emerging to tears of joy and long happy hugs while the people next to them resent their blocking the gangway as they hit this city with determination. Lovers and families reunited. Strangers meeting in circles around people with boards, awkwardly introducing themselves like the first day of a conference, forcing laughter.
Also there’s a Marks and Spencer’s, which temptingly sells beer – no thanks. There’s already been one pile-up on the M4 today. More pertinently it sells buttered flapjacks, chocolate cornflake clusters, and Percy Pig and Pals. Yeah so she’s been round the world 31 times or something. But I reckon I might be able to feed her a Percy Pig. Are they vegan? I was told they’re vegan. Her number registers as Los Angeles so I’d better check. The pig thing implies they aren’t. Hmmm. Maybe best find out the dietaries first. West Coast Americans in media are a hard lot to snack.
It’s twenty to ten at night. My first pickup was at 8 in the morning. Compared to the time when I sat on my ass on the sofa all day until they delivered the car, I’ve definitely earned my daily rate. I’m hungry. I might eat all the Percy Pigs. It says they’re suitable for vegetarians though. Maybe I’ll leave her some nome nom nom nom oink
I spent this morning at a tiny airfield out near Slough, watching 50 year old white males jacking up their helicopters, fiddling with their propellers, comparing flaps. Now I’m at this much bigger airport, and the world is pushing past. Orthodox Jews with their families next to a guy with a T-Shirt saying “Power Bottom for Jesus.” Young and old and sick and well. Dressed for sun or rain or fighting or wearing a suit because they have to. And here she comes.
Two and a half hours wait… At least it gave the M4 the time to clear. And we came out to a glorious sunset as she gomped through the remaining Percy Pigs.
“They should export these gummies.” Word. But then there’s fewer for us.