Tea and sympathy on the way to paradise

Share

Paradise is waking up to blue sky, a clear view of the islands and twin baby lambs pressing their black noses against the glass of the kitchen door. That reminds me, we need mint sauce for Easter lunch. Paradise is definitely spring on the west coast of Scotland, but we almost didn't make it.

Paradise is waking up to blue sky, a clear view of the islands and twin baby lambs pressing their black noses against the glass of the kitchen door. That reminds me, we need mint sauce for Easter lunch. Paradise is definitely spring on the west coast of Scotland, but we almost didn't make it.

"Due to an incident earlier this morning they've closed one of the runways," said the girl at the Heathrow check-in desk. "All flights are delayed, yours is running up to an hour late." What sort of incident, I said with interest, remembering the final scene in A Fish Called Wanda.

On the Tube, "an incident" invariably means that someone has committed suicide at Embankment. It's always Embankment. But then it's easy to lose the will to live waiting for the Circle Line at Embankment. "Between you and me," said the check-in girl lowering her voice, "it wasn't really an incident. It's just a hole in the runway."

Now I've heard everything. As excuses go, though, leaves on the line is still my favourite.

"This is a bit awkward," I began, "because it means I'm going to miss my connection. You see, there's only one bus a day that stops at Glasgow Airport for Ballachulish. If I miss that it means I miss my ferry as well." "Excuse me, did I hear you say Ballachulish," inquired a thin, quavery voice behind me. "Oh thank goodness, I'm supposed to be getting that bus too."

The little old lady, variously layered in alternative tartan and Fair Isle jersey, cardigan, scarf, jacket, overcoat, shawl and mackintosh, grabs my arm and says pitifully that if she'd known she might miss the connection she wouldn't have taken the flight, but they've now checked in her bags and refused to give them back. Even worse, she confides, is that an hour ago she took one of her special pills to stop her passing water and if it runs out before time... she starts to cry.

"Listen," I say hastily wondering what will happen when the pill runs out. "I'm sure we can sort all this out. We'll get them to halt the bus or perhaps you could take another pill. Why don't you sit down and I'll get you a cup of tea - maybe that's not such a good idea." "Call me Edna," says the little old lady still weeping, "I'm 86 and the doctor said I could only go to Scotland if I didn't get stressed. Oh dear, oh dear."

To cheer Edna up I told her about a friend who once booked a package weekend to Istanbul. He checked his bag in at Gatwick at 6.30pm only to learn an hour later that the flight had been delayed for three hours. At 10pm they learned that there was a further unspecified delay.

Furious passengers shouted at the airline staff that they'd spent most of their weekend at Gatwick instead of Istanbul, and could they have their luggage back. No, they were told, whether or not they went to Istanbul, their luggage certainly was going. My friend observed all this and then quietly sidled up to an attendant and said without passion that he was on very strict medication. If he didn't take one of his special pills, which happened to be in the bag he'd checked in, within half an hour he would not care to answer for the consequences. Ten minutes later my friend and his luggage were on the Gatwick Express heading for Victoria. He learned later that the Istanbul flight had left at 4am.

Edna wasn't listening. She was saying that she could feel one of her turns coming on. Last time she had a turn was when she fell down in her allotment and spliced her thigh on a bamboo cane. She was rushed to the military hospital at Frimley where, she said with some pride, because of the unusual nature of her injury, she was examined by army doctors researching the sort of wounds soldiers on manoeuvres might sustain in the Far East.

For the record, they held the bus for us, Edna and her waterworks carried on to the Isle of Skye, I got my ferry and give or take the odd cloud I can see, this looks like paradise to me.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Read Next
Former N-Dubz singer Tulisa Contostavlos gives a statement outside Southwark Crown Court after her trial  

It would be wrong to compare brave Tulisa’s ordeal with phone hacking. It’s much worse than that

Matthew Norman
The Big Society Network was assessed as  

What became of Cameron's Big Society Network?

Oliver Wright
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn