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

Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst- Insurance

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst - Insurance ...

Recruitment Genius: Property Manager

£25000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent, growing Sales...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Multi-skilled graphic designer ...

Austen Lloyd: Court of Protection Solicitor

£30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: Court of Protection Solic...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A CCTV camera is seen in front of a large poster opposite in central London  

Home Office is creating more powers to turn everyone into suspects – but leave us no safer

Shami Chakrabarti
 

David Mellor has been exposed as an awful man, but should he have been?

Simon Kelner
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire