Tuesday, 5 August 2008

The Cusp

Regular followers of the parislondonreturn might recall that I'm not the best of flyers.

I'm still not exactly sure when this antipathy started but I'm savvy enought to realise that one has to fly to go to places like – say China.

Though if I’d left Paris two weeks ago and used an array of trains and boats I might have arrived in Beijing at right about now.

That didn’t happen. And for a moment the journey here to Beijing from Paris was on the verge of not happening.

I turned up suitably early at Charles de Gaulle airport’s Terminal 1. And I waited with about half a dozen others in line. Eventually the China Airways ground staff appeared and nonchalantly opened up the aisles that we’d feed into.

Suitably basted with our Pavlovian cues, we shuffled into expectant order.

They then went away. I felt spurned. But not quite as rejected as the bulging suitcase that was in the queue.

Odd I thought, when did that turn up? More importantly why was no one with it?

Two passing airport executives clearly had the same reservations. They stopped, scanned and furrowed their brows. When I caught their frown I said: “I’ve just noticed that too. I saw a man with it.”

They waited a few minutes and eventually called airport security. A good five minutes had passed during which time the queue for checking onto CA 934 to Beijing had started moving.

But it wasn’t proceeding fast enough for me to get out of the way of a potential bomb.

I was just yards away.

What to do? Couldn’t exactly leave my bags and flee to the other side of the building. To run off while pushing my trolley would be terribly undignified, slow and defeat the purpose of trying to escape.

So I stayed and fretted. The suits talked into their phones and eventually a man returned. The suits became animated, the man gesticulated but didn’t exactly convey remorse.

How can you leave your bags unattended in this day and age? My initial concern would be someone stealing my dazzling range of desirable apparel. But in the wider context we live in an age of bombs.

But I’m being so yesteryear. These days people remain with their explosives. They are the devices.

And they’re known to prey on buses, underground trains, markets and bazaars.

Not just airports.

Well that takes care of my fear of flying. Now to tackle the plain fear of living.