[This post is reconstructed from semi-coherent posts and tweets on Facebook and Twitter. Social medial experts call it microblogging. I call it leaving a trail to remember I was there. If you want to read about the newspaper account, click here. If you forgot who or what Winston is, click here. If you want to read past installments click here.]
8:00 AM GMT
I make my way through Heathrow’s labyrinthine walkways to Baggage Claim. The joyful trembling is now just trembling. In uncalled for optimism I check the bags from my flight. There is the sea of black luggage and a smaller lake of – red. What? My head swims as I check a puce one in hopes it’s mine and I might be going blind. Nope.
The baggage clerk confirms: no, the bag is NOT in Chicago; yes, it was last in Dulles; no, it should have been on this flight. Oh wait, it should be on the next flight blah blah blah, due in at 10:00 AM. I’ve journey since Tuesday morning with only six hours of sleep in 48 hours. What’s a two hour wait? Wait, did she say blah blah blah? My hearing’s gone funnier than usual.
I sprawl across a seat near the appointed carousel. Security eyes me several times as they patrol. I can’t imagine how I look. My fingers cease to cooperate so I pocket the iPhone. Peering like a drunk, I realize the Toilet is nearby thank goodness. Sheer masochism prompts a look in the mirror. All things considered, my clothes look pretty wrinkle free; hooray for cotton blends. Wish I could say the same about my face. My eyes are a shade of red to complement the lime green top and blue jeans. My hair looks like I stuck a finger in a socket right before being whacked in the back with an anvil. My feet – my feet are there somewhere. Sigh.
At the carousel the sea of black bags continue flowing with streams of red. When the heck did people start buying all these red bags? I eye a whole set of luggage, neon Barbie pink with logos on it. Is that really Mattel? Surely not! I insanely consider buying something like that; it would certainly stand out from half a mile away. I mull over other times me and my baggage were separated, 12 hours in London, 6 hours in Detroit, 2 days in Rome and wager when I might see it again. Given what is turning out to be a long weekend, I want it back before I leave on Monday.
Finally Flight blah blah blah arrives and the bags disgorge, and the last one – is mine. I’m so ecstatic I’m thisclose to hugging the thing but think better of it; security eyes me closely. I double-check the tag, walk few a paces, question my vision and double-check again. Yup, still my luggage. Now I won’t be whiffy and need to wash my undies in the sink for three days. Or spend too much buying replacements at Marks & Spenser. Or Selfridges. Or Harrods. Dodged that bullet.
Another long passage finally points the way to the Tube. All I need to do is swipe my debit card through the travel card machine, purchase an Oyster Card and be on my way. Except the machine does not like my debit card. I turn around. There’s a long queue for that. Sigh. The line inches as I longingly watch better luck travelers move swiftly through the turnstiles. I zone out for a bit and I’m before the window clerk. He looks like a nice elderly man out of a Norman Rockwell painting. He gently extracts the proper information using small words in a calm voice and patiently draws on the map. I am age four again. I nod complacently. Clutching the prized Oyster Card in its protective plastic, I jump on the next Piccadilly line train confident I can’t mess up. After all, there’s only one direction it can go -out. With a change at Leicester Square, I’m on the Northern Line to Finchley Central. I’m armed with Google maps on paper and on my iPhone; I’m prepared. As I fight sleep, it dawns I couldn’t be any farther away from Heathrow than if I was in the Docklands. It’s almost an 1 1/2 hour journey. Despite a map plotted to the B&B’s door, I manage to get lost but am set right by a friendly florist. It’s an easy walk, all downhill.
Finally, almost 46 hours after leaving home, I enter the B&B. It’s typical English brick Victorian in a quiet leafy residential neighborhood. The proprietor, Mike, greets me, takes me to the dining area and puts the kettle on. He murmurs and coos and plots out a quicker way to the Tube station. I nod complacently. He stares hard asking if I’m taking in any of this. I’m sure but awareness is relative at this point. The place is busy; phones ring. I’m left to figure out the complexity of tea making. I locate a cup, hot water and milk but not the tea so I drink the milk. My room is happily on the 2nd floor off the landing. It’s small and updated with a wooden floor, twin bed, table, lamp, microwave, TV and an en suite bathroom containing toilet and a skinny shower. The view is a lovely garden out back. It’s cheap, cheerful and clean. It is actually better than other B&B rooms in which I’ve stayed. It’s too far from the airport but there’s no help for that now.
I can’t think of sitting down and losing consciousness. I need to get to the theatre.
Winston still snores. Sleep must be nice.
NEXT: Kill Claudio!