Dateline 8th November 2013 10:15am Heathrow Terminal 3.
The bar. I forget its name but it welcomes me back warmly it seems. Heathrow is heaving. I suppose because it is a Friday and I usually travel midweek. I struggle to find a seat but eventually a couple leave and I grab the table.
I always get one where I can keep an eye on the departures board as I imbibe my pre-flight medication. I guess the early morning valium has worn off by now so I have a beer. Stella Artois. The first one hardly touches the side as it goes down. I feel my jangling nerves start to calm. I people watch as I drink. A favourite occupation of mine. I grab a second beer and strike up a conversation with two guys waiting for their flight to Bangkok, Thailand. Their flight takes 19 hours so I console myself that mine only lasts 7.
Boarding starts at 11:30 so I take my traditional G&T. The second hits the spot and by now my pre-flight nerves have subsided. Well as much as they are going to and so I make my way to my flight. I always travel Air Canada to Ohio. It is so much quicker than the others and I like them.
I enter the metal encased coffin known as an Airbus A330 and find my seat. Always an aisle seat as far from the window as possible. (I know I am a coward but I still sneak quick peaks from the windows as we take off) I am immensely pleased to find I have an entire row of 4 seats to myself. Also the seats in front are empty… Bonus.
I pack my hand luggage away and try to gaze nonchalantly around. I try to give an impression of calm world traveller. I partly succeed. But now the worst part. The point of no return. The engines spool up and we begin the bumpy slow trip towards our take-off runway.
I close my eyes as the pilot informs us we are about to take-off. The engines whine. Flaps and air brakes are tested … then we are off. God knows how many tons of metal and humanity hurtle towards oblivion … OK the end of the runway. I feel the nose lift. The bump of the wheels on tarmac stops and we are airborne. I sneak a peek out of the window to see Heathrow disappearing below me. No one seems to talk during take-off. The sun streams in through the windows.
My first relief. The seatbelt sign dings off. The stewardesses start to dish up grub … and thank gawd wine. Nice lovely wine to top up my alcohol system. I like Air Canada as I said previously, one of the reasons being that they dish out further free wine on request although I do have something stronger in my laptop bag.
I eat my spag bol … not bad and my bean salad …ok and my large choccy cookie … yummie. My first wine has joined my lunch and I ask for another with my coffee. It duly appears. I have unpacked the laptop bag. I have my mp3 player and my Kindle. I never use them when flying but I bring them anyway. I find myself mostly gazing at the seatback TV screen progress map willing us to just bloody get there quickly and in one piece. I have my secret stash to hand too. Four miniatures of whiskey. Ready and available on demand. I feel a warm glow. I drank 2 of them.
My flight? Well it passes uneventfully. No turbulence, no explosions, no beturbanned terrorists sending us all to perdition. Pretty boring really.
Time passes slowly but eventually we come in to land at Toronto. No snow, sun shining, smooth landing. I am content as we exit the plane but I know my sternest test lies ahead. The American Border patrol is waiting. I grit my teeth and head towards them……
To be continued …
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