I had a plan. A most devious plan which would bring me immeasurable pleasure and joy. One last night in London. One last night to be frivolous, fun and generally be me. In all honesty it was a simple yet effective plan with very few things that could go wrong.
I would walk out the apartment door, freshly showered, my long black and white French inspired skirt in a flutter, my eyes sparkling and softly laughing.
My small delicate black lace shoes would walk me along the cobbled streets in a most brisk manner. My lower legs only covered by a soft pair of black plaid stockings. The fresh chill of the approaching London winter would rogue my cheeks.
My hair (freshly washed and blow dried) would be acascade of golden locks, glowing under the street lamps.
A left turn off the Main Street, down that road, through the scaffolding and just past the sex shop I’d find that special door. A door like many others near by yet one with infinite possibilities. A wise old, non descript door, that has seen many seasons past. Many weary travelers have walked beneath her arches to escape the cold and find a little piece of happiness. I would do the same. Softly pushing her open with my shoulder and stepping within. My jacket would slide off of my shoulders and be entrusted to an expectant hand, only to be whisked away to a land of jacket parties.
Through my heavily mascarad eye lashes and red lips I’d smile and be promptly escorted to a table with no waiting at all. Wine would appear. My voice would be swept away in the river of idle chatter that flowed around me. In one hand I am holding you close. Embracing the warmth. The other hand ensuring that the wine doesn’t feel left out and enjoys my soft embrace. Before we know it in bringing you close to my ruby red lips. There’s no resistance here. Only acceptance. Delicious, sweet, wholesome bowl of ramen noodles how I love thee. After our sensual time together I slip on my jacket and walk out into the night dog never to see this place again.
After a week of walking and freezing my arse off in Denmark and Findland here I was fantasising about a bowl of noodles. And a hot shower. My devious plan was all going well. I’d arrived just in time to Helsinki airport to get my flight home to London. I boarded the bus and transitted out to the eagerly awaiting plane. And then the one vital part of my plan went soul destroying my wrong.
This wasn’t our plane.
There was no plane.
As the driver took a bus load of bewildered people back to the terminal the sickening sound on flight update texts could be felt going through the bus. There was a slight delay. A mere 7 hour delay. Meaning that the 5pm flight would now depart maybe at midnight and maybe get into Gatwick at 1am. Maybe. We wouldn’t know for sure until the plane was in the air. With us on it.
The airline offered two choices- stay and try to get to London or rebook for tomorrow. With a flight the next afternoon I couldn’t really risk trying a rebooking and another mystery plane. I couldn’t get my bag so no chance of getting on with another airline either.
Nor did I get any information directly from the airline. It was only the kindness of fellow stranded travelers that I had any idea of what was going on. Or really a loose idea of the situation. Whilst others where getting text messages I got nothing. Even after registering online via the airlines website I still recieved a grand total of nothing.
Patience. Politeness and Poise. The three P’s on how to handle yourself in a delayed flight situation.
There was no use yelling at the airport attendees. Demanding to speak to anyone higher up the chain. Insulting everyday people who are just doing their job. I somewhat happily accepted my 15€ dinner voucher (which wasn’t enough for anything past a non alcoholic drink and a muffin) and spent the next 7hours waiting. I made friends with other stranded travelers and swapped stories. Started an improtu dance party at the gate lounge. I didn’t use the bathroom as the Helsinki airport turned off the water after 11pm.
I researched how one gets from Gatwick to London central at 2am as the buses, train and tube doesn’t run that early. Uber. It’s the only way. I also took the time to research how to claim compensation from the airline. As well as a solid hour research on Norweigan Forest Cats.
I didn’t cry. I didn’t throw a shoe. I didn’t resort to eating a cheeseburger.
I patiently waited and tried to no think about all the amazing noodle goodness I had missed out on. Nor the potential to ice skate in Hyde Park or wonder why I had made the rookie mistake of not packing a toothbrush, clean underwear and a proper bra into my hand luggage.
After another considerable wait when finally on the plane I arrived to my London home at 3.30am. I’m eternally grateful to my host who happily opened the door for me, even though he had to be at work at 9am. As well as a shout out of thanks to my friends who helped me find alternative transport.