Monday, October 8, 2012

On leaving Calgary

... the aisles are so narrow, you have to pick up
you carry on and go down them sideways with it ...
now that is really travelling economy
Because the flight was late leaving, I wheeled my carry-on and walked the airport halls so that I could get some good exercise in before the long flight. Circle one, I watched a clerk crouched down beside an old woman who had a shoebox full of meds. Round two, there was a paramedic with them. Round three, six paramedics, two of whom had arrived on the mo-peds. Round four, a gurney taking her out of the building. She was now hooked up to oxygen. For some reason I looked at her feet. At least, I thought, she is going out with her boots on. About mid flight, and out of no where the plane began to shake. Up and down and sideway, I couldn’t tell which was going to come next. “If this happens much longer,” I thought, “I am going to throw-up.” I was trying to manage the cup of water that I had just put to my lips, keeping as much of it in the glass as I could, I was trying to do up my seat belt at the same time. It was not easy. The captain came on and said, “We have hit some unexpected turbulence. We did not see it coming. If you are not in your seats, lay down on the floor where you are.” That news did not give solace to anyone on board. When calm skies returned, I turned to my seat companions and said, “Are you fine? And? How did you like that for adventure.” “Worst I have ever felt, as well,” said one of them and I fly often. “You know, we could fly direct over the ocean and do this flight in 3 hours, he contined, “but they take longer in the air so they can stay close to land if they have to go down. Right now we are in Greenland. I don’t know how we could be saved, if we landed on ice. We would freeze to death before anyone got us.”

What I don’t like,” I said, “is that this is the first part of a nice long trip for me, and already, I think I have had the ten most memorable minutes of the whole journey.”

Well, I guess the turbulence got to my fellow passenger. It even got to the captain. When it was clear sailing again, he came on the intercom and said, “Ladies and Gentleman, what just happened is why we suggest you always keep your seat belts done up when you are in your seats. That turbulence came out of nowhere. ” He was preaching to the converted.

... sunrise as seen from the Gatwick Express ...
I left my bags checked at the Grand Park Hotel in London by 9:30 am. I had done the Gatwick Express to Victoria, and transferred Victoria and Central line, all the while dragging those two bags that are my house and home for the next seven weeks. It wasn’t really a Gatwick Express, the train engineer kept telling us. The station master in charge of the tracks had put a train in front of him that stopped at every junction. He apologized each time we stopped.

I have never seen Hyde Park, so to keep myself awake and upright, I strolled along the Italian Gardens, down the Serpentine, past the Water Memorial to Diana, Princess of Wales.

 ... Peter Pan in Hyde Park ...
I stopped to look at the Peter Pan statue.

I watched the runners out jogging, raising money for health charities.

The park was packed. Yes, I got lost – there are acres of park.

 ... stopping to talk to a bird ...
I kept walking on sheer will power.

And besides that, I had to find the right gate through which to leave and go back to the hotel.

We went out to tonight – down to Regent and Oxford, going to buy a few groceries at Tesco. The store had only close 3 hours before we got there. Needing another option for food, we hopped a double decker bus to go back to what Wyona termed, “fries and a greasy spoon joint “ but it was her choice. I stood up before the bus stopped. She bawled me out. “No standing while the bus is still moving”. She told me that twice, so I finally sat down.

We exited the bus, Greg first, me next, Wyona last. When she got out tears were streaming down her cheeks and she leaned against a telephone pole, crying, moaning, my hand, my hand, I think it is broken. It was limp and she was holding it. Greg stood by, powerless, but trying to figure out which hospital was closer, St. Mary’s or University. I had a knot deep in my stomach. She leaned against the pole for a while, moved her fingers, and decided she did not have to go to the hospital.

Later as we sat beside the curb on Oxford street, eating our chicken schwrma’s she explained to us that she had caught her hand between the glass safety panel and the metal pole of the railing that one grabs onto to go down the stairs. The bus lurch, her body went ahead, but her hand didn’t release. I didn’t take a picture of her injury. When she gets home she will still be carrying the bruising on her left hand. Do touch base with her about her wonderful holidays when you see her. Greg and I agreed. She plans wonderful holidays. Next time we will leave her at home where she is safe and he and I will go on these adventures alone.

Continuing on our walk down Oxford I saw a beautiful faced woman, a product from MacDonalds in her hand, leaning over, offering it to a street person seated on the ground. It was 10 pm. The street light filtered ointo the sidewalk of the tight building corner that he was leaning against its wall as he sat, holding himself up. “Please, I bought it just for you. Please take it,” she was saying. “I just bought it for you.” I could only glimpse his face – a long gash now coated over with dried blood on his nose and he was staring at her, no affect in his face, no response – just staring stone faced ahead.

Oh London!

A story around every corner.



  1. Wow. That was a blog full of amazing and interesting details. I loved the photo of the Peter Pan statue. I always thought my brother Doral did that Peter Pan excerpt at the festival better than anyone.

    Was that a Heron you stopped to talk to in the park? I am partial to Blue Heron's, but I think if I got to see a Whooping Crane, my favorite might switch to that bird.

    David keeps asking me if I were not human, what would I be. My first choice was an Eagle so I could go far, fast, and have a great view. My next choice was a feild of grass so I would get to meet many creatures.

    His choice? I think it was a caterpillar. That is what he plans to be for Halloween.

  2. PS: Wyona, ouch!

    I had a minor injury at work. I tried to get a child to help me put away a table that folds up into the wall. He had more strength than i expected andI didn't get my "Peter Pointer" on my right hand out of the hinge area fast enough.

    My last work-related injury was when I was backing up with "Dinosaur Mountain", stumbled over a child I didn't know had followed me into the toy closet, and threw myself one direction and the mountain another to try not to crush the 2 year old.

    Try writing those up for a work related health report.