I’m sitting in the heart of Terminal 2 at London Heathrow airport once again. I have an hour until the gate is announced for my flight. I’m sitting here in cargo shorts, a t-shirt, and sandals, watching the world go by around me.
It’s a curious experience, watching people in an airport – particularly one as big as Heathrow. This particular terminal is one of five, with seating for several thousand people and as many shops as a major shopping mall in most cities. Terminal 2 serves people travelling around Europe – so the people you see wandering this way and that tend to be European. Sometimes you can tell a person’s nationality just by looking at them, and sometimes not. Middle aged and older people are the easiest to tell – teens and twenty-somethings are almost impossible.
Somebody just walked past in flip-flops and socks. That’s almost as bad as sandals and socks, isn’t it ?
A few minutes ago I bought a sandwich and a drink, and almost coughed at the prices. It would appear there’s nothing like having a captive market to validate doubling the cost of everything. One of the high street chain stores that has shops in hospitals over here was shamed in the press recently for charging eight times the going rate for toothpaste and toothbrushes – preying on people at their most vulnerable.
It’s kind of lovely, sitting here, watching the various nationalities mingling with each other – quietly going about their journey. Everybody is coming from somewhere, and going to somewhere else – or at least I think so – I can’t imagine there’s a Viktor Noborski hiding out in the terminal somewhere. Nobody is arguing. Nobody is fighting. The terminal is filled with normal folk, going about their day. Business people, families, couples – every demographic you might think of. In the distane I can hear the clink of cutlery, cups, and saucers. Across the way, the designer handbag shops stand empty, with catwalk model staff trying to find things to do.
In three quarters of an hour, the gate for my flight will be anounced, and I’ll set off in search of the snaking line of passengers that will have already formed. It’s an uncanny thing – how people get to airport departure gates so quickly. I can never quite figure out why – because everybody has an assigned seat – it’s not like you’re going to get a better seat by arriving early. I’m also continually surprised at the amount of junk people carry onto the plane with them.
There appears to be a group of school children forming in the middle of the terminal now. Perhaps fifty of them. They are split into groups of ten or so, with an adult accompanying each group. It’s wonderful to see their excitement. One of the adults just shepherded her group ahead of her, and did the parent thing – “I’ll go last, and make sure we don’t lose anybody on the way to the gate”.
Anyway. Enough of this inane commentary. The gate for my flight will be anounced in a little while. I’m going to finish my orange juice, and then go for a wander before my departure gate is announced. I imagine the next post will be from a hotel room in Frankfurt. Later!