Being Late Is A Departure From The Norm
Since the age of 24, when I was lucky enough to be given the gig of a globe-trotting sports journalist covering cricket and tennis at the world’s most famous venues, I have caught more flights than I could ever count. I was never late for any of them.
Since I became a father and revelled in taking the Authorbloglets to wonderful cities, we have been fortunate enough to fly to some truly memorable places. Once again, we have never been late for any of our flights.
But there was one solitary occasion in 1986 when Mrs Authorblog came close to derailing my record for punctuality. We were in London and we were due to fly to Brussels for a week and we had non-refundable, non-changeable air tickets.
It was the 23rd July. If the date doesn’t exactly ring a bell, let me remind you of its significance. It was the day that Britain’s Prince Andrew married Sarah Ferguson. Mrs Authorblog was delighted to be accompanying me to Belgium, but she was not exactly over the moon about the fact that we were travelling on the day of the royal wedding.
Let me put this in context. Mrs Authorblog was a flight attendant for a major international airline, and was accustomed to check-in desks, time zones and airport protocol. But she was also (understandably, I hasten to add) not best pleased about travelling on a day when she would rather (I suspect) be standing with the throng of bystanders outside Westminster Abbey.
So we struck a deal. She would watch the start of BBC TV’s coverage of the wedding and as soon as Prince Andrew entered the church, we would leave for the airport. We had a long way to go. We were in South Wimbledon, which was a long haul (and a couple of Tube changes) to Heathrow.
Prince Andrew arrived. But Mrs Authorblog wasn’t budging. I was looking at the clock. Then a new deal was struck. We would wait until the TV cameras showed Fergie leaving Clarence House in the famous glass coach. I agreed.
That came and went. Then Mrs Authorblog asked if she could wait until Fergie walked down the aisle to meet her prince. Looking nervously at the clock and mentally computing the Underground routes and schedules, I agreed. But now I was getting rather edgy.
We sprinted to South Wimledon station, ran down the escalator to the train and Mrs Authorblog, who was suddenly rather pale at the prospect of missing the flight to Brussels, asked me in a very inconspicuous voice if we would make it to Heathrow on time. Gallantly, I said we should have about five minutes to spare – as long as the train did not stop between stations.
Sure enough, it stopped between stations about ten minutes later. By now we knew that even if we got out at the next station and took one of the London black cabs, we would still not get to the airport any quicker than if we stayed on the Tube.
When we eventually pulled into Heathrow, Mrs Authorblog led the way. As we raced towards the airline check-in desk, she just had one single piece of advice for me. "Don’t stop to help any little old ladies with their suitcases," she said.
About fifty metres later, there was – you guessed it – a little old lady struggling with her suitcase. So I did what anyone would do. I stopped and helped her – and told Mrs Authorblog I would catch up with her.
We made our flight with only seconds to spare – as they announced our names over the PA system for the third time.
Now, each time we make travel plans for the family, I always check the calendar – just to make sure no royal weddings are scheduled the same day.
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