(written on the plane, 21/7/05 18.02)
What a day!
Given the travel fuck-ups in London of late, I decided to leave plenty of time to get to Gatwick for the flight to Italy… Little did I know I’d need every second of the FIVE HOURS that it took to get from Southgate to the airport!
The Picadilly Line is already suspended up where I am, so I had to get the ‘rail replacement bus service’ from Arnos Grove to Seven Sisters (oh yes, I’m going into all the really dull details, just for you lovely bloglings… and cos I’m on a flight with not much else to do!) but when I got to Seven Sisters tube, a little man in an orange jacket (perhaps fresh from Guantanamo) said that the whole Victoria Line was suspended…
At this point, the serendipity of my having just got a new phone (Sony K750i) kicked in, as it has an FM Radio built in. I’d been listening to the mighty Robert Elms on BBC Radio London, and he’d done a quick announcement that something had happened just before I got to the tube, but as I crossed the road to try and get on a bus towards Victoria, the situation started to unfold in a fledgling way. The report came through that three ‘incidents’ had taken place, at Oval, Warren Street and Shepherd’s Bush tube stations, and soon after a fourth incident came through on a bus in Shepherd’s Bush. Radio London switched to rolling news, and kept updating with all the facts and no speculation, and did a remarkable job, which greatly helped with the next installment of my journey, definitely the strangest thing that’s ever happened to me on a bus…
…the radio broadcast is interrupted by my phone ringing, and it’s Muriel Anderson on the other end of the line – it’s always a delight to hear from Muriel and my immediate assumption was that she was coming to England to look for gigs. ‘I’m in Indianapolis, doing a live radio spot, and was wondering if you wanted to talk on air about the bomb situation’…!! I checked to see whether they meant the one from two weeks ago, or todays – not knowing whether news would have filtered as far as Indianapolis – and they confirmed it was today. Fortunately having been listening to the radio I was able to fill them in on all the latest official details, and quash a few rumours about huge explosions and the like… My first ever live international radio interview whilst on public transport, that’s for sure!
The bus proved to be a pretty unreliable way of getting across London – it stopped for over an hour on High Holborn, and then turfed us all out – but with the tube network being pretty much closed, I didn’t have any choice but to sit it out, and watch the three hour margin I’d left myself gradually ebb away. The second bus moved much quicker once we got past Oxford Street, and eventually we got to Victoria, and I made it straight onto the Gatwick Express.
At this point, I want to praise British Airways. my initial idea for this trip was to take my rack on the plane as handluggage, and put my bass in the hold in a foam-flight-case. But I weighed my rack-case this morning and it was 50lbs! Not the kind of thing you can get away with as hand luggage. So the plan switched to taking the bass in a soft case again, and checking the rack, hoping it’ll get through OK (it is packed with all my clothes too, so should be padded OK).
I’m used to having to sweet-talk my bass onto a planes by all means neccesary – starting with chat about favourite shades of nail varnish, moving up to compliments on people’s hairstyles, and culminating in blind panic if it looks like I’m going to have to put a soft case in the hold… At the BA check in desk, not a question was asked. The lovely lady who took the rack from me was fine with me taking the laptop and the bass onto the plane, and was very helpful with labeling up the rack as fragile and getting it hand carried down to the plane. None of the other BA staff questioned me taking the bass on board, and it’s now nestling in the overhead compartment above my head!
So as you can now tell, I made it onto the plane, from whence I write (to be uploaded when I find some delicious Italian WiFi at the other end). I’m sat here, listening to Gillian Welch, sipping tomato juice (why do I only ever drink tomato juice on planes? I really like it!) having just eaten a lovely veggie meal, along with everyone else: BA are smart enough to just serve veggie food to everyone, so there’s no questions about who gets what food! smart as plums.
Anyway, the situation with the ‘incidents’ as I left it in London was that there had been four explosions, all much much smaller than the ones two weeks ago, and that no-one had been killed, and there were very few casualties at all – the only confirmed one being the owner of on of the rucksacks that exploded.
Whoever it was who did it did a rather good job of ballsing up London’s transport for another day, and have probably scared quite a few commuters. I’m just glad that the bombs either malfuctioned or were only detonators with no payload. Enough already with the bombing, please!
…and in that serendipitous way that chance can provide a day’s soundtrack, the track that’s just come on iTunes is John Martyn’s ‘I don’t want to know about evil’ – I don’t want to know about evil, I only want to know about love… I’ll find the lyrics and post them when I find the delicious italian wifi.
Soundtrack – John Martyn, ‘Solid Air’.by