Philobiblon: London, you've got to love it

Sunday, September 11, 2005

London, you've got to love it

Arrived at Stansted at 10.50pm last night: huge queue for passport control, long wait for bags - well this is the budget airport, so you can't really complain.

Outside is a fair attempt at a setting for a Sherlock Holmes movie - a thick yellow fog that quickly forms a greasy film over your face.

Just caught the 11.59 Stansted "Express", which should have just connected me to the Victoria line before it does its usually half-after-midnight shutdown (when IS Ken Livingstone going to do something about this?), had it not sat for 15 minutes or so in the middle of nowhere. (No idea why - the driver did make an announcement, but it was unintelligible).

So, to the joys of the N73 night bus, to be caught from the middle of a dodgy industrial estate at Tottenham Hale. But yes, it was a joy.

First, there was the Korean Elvis impersonator, with, if not in a biblical sense - although not for want of his trying - the American "from LA", dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. (Not a look I'd recommend, overall if you're over 40 and have a really bad blonde dye job.)

Then, there was the sailor from Plymouth who sat beside me and tried to chat, but whose muscle control was so far gone that at each stop he slowly slid from view along the mixture of chewing gum and general grime on the seat, ending up crouched on his haunches, swaying gently, but politely trying very hard not to brush against me.

Then there was the sober soldier-boy (had to be with that haircut), grimly hanging on to his temper after copping an elbow to the head from a drunk who really didn't look like he should be able to stand, and the bloke who'd fancied his chances for the evening, until his "date" had caught a nightbus 40 minutes in the wrong direction, so now they were heading, he hoped, on the route to her bedroom. Whether she intended the mistake I don't know - a 50/50. But certainly his ardour was cooling by the minute.

The woman behind me who'd said in an ominous tone "I feel sick" didn't throw up, so it was a successful return to the old home town. And I was reminded why I love living here - all of life is at your side, if not in your lap.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Chameleon said...

The passport queues at Heathrow are not much better, as I discovered the other week. I completely sympathise with your frustration about the lack of adequate late night transport facilities (here the situation is slightly worse, the bus line I used to take to work every morning now having drastically cut the frequency of departures as well as lopping the final third off the route, meaning it is no longer of any practical use) in London. I am glad the girl didn't react like Daniella Nardini in Tube Tales!

9/11/2005 05:41:00 pm  
Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

I've been lucky with Heathrow immigration, but have had some horrendous times in check-in queues. Every time I do it I swear I won't fly BA again.

9/13/2005 03:52:00 am  

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