Yesterday I drove around the M25 to the South terminal of Gatwick Airport in order to collect my son Barry, who was arriving on a flight from Faro in Portugal.
Perhaps inevitably – and partly it was my fault because I had allowed extra time because of the ‘reduced lanes’ road works that currently beset the southbound M23 – I arrived an hour early for the scheduled touchdown of Barry’s flight at 1335 hours, which by then in addition had been delayed by 30 minutes.
Undaunted, I bought a couple of magazines, then located a coffee shop at which to buy a latte and settled in. Once I had confirmed that the flight had landed on the screens, I moved to the ‘Arrivals’ gate and joined all the other chauffeurs and drivers waiting for passengers with their placards and/or tablet computers bearing the names of their quarry.
A perfect opportunity for one of my favourite pastimes, i.e. people-watching.
During my forty-minute wait for Barry to come through, I was able to devise an impromptu system for categorising the various types of people who either (1) wait for friends, relatives or paying passengers; and/or (2) fly around the world, for whatever reason they do.
I’m not going to itemise the fruits of my labours here – beyond (out of potential interest?) revealing that three of my categories of traveller were ‘Students’, ‘Geeks’ and ‘Student Geeks’, which may indicate the way my mind was going – but I did surprise myself by how few categories I needed in order to cover about 90% of the types who passing through.
And what sights one sees at a major airport! I had two favourites yesterday.
The first was the young lady, travelling with a similar male (presumably her boyfriend), who came through towing her luggage behind her whilst wearing a head-to-toe (pale blue with pink edgings) rabbit outfit, including a hoody over her head complete with rabbit ears poking skywards, without an apparent care in the world or any self-consciousness at all.
The second was a large gentleman possessed of a pot belly, aged between thirty and thirty-five, who was wearing a thin coat beneath which he was sporting a complete ‘London 2012’ Olympics volunteer helper shirt and outfit, including a peaked cap with that dreadful graphic representation of ‘2012’ upon it. I must admit to laughing inwardly as I speculated whether he was wearing it for a bet … or alternatively was a bit soft in the head. I really could not think of any other plausible explanation.
Wasn’t it music hall and radio star Wilfred Pickles who famously said “There’s nowt so queer as folk …”?