The Atlanta flight arrived in Gatwick at 8.15 and the scheduled plane to Glasgow left on time at 8.25. In other words I didn't make it. Not only that, but when I passed back through customs to collect my luggage with some other people in the same boat (the next available BA flight to Glasgow left from Heathrow, so we had to collect it) their luggage came out on the carousel and mine did not. A man at the lost property desk ran my details through the computer and said he was “95% certain” my luggage was still in Atlanta. There was nothing to do but catch the bus to Heathrow and wait for my stuff to arrive in Glasgow (tomorrow I had been told). Thankfully I had cash, means of obtaining more, as well as my house keys. My poor old Trek, neglected, in pieces in a box, would think he was for the knackers yard.
My fortunes improved at Heathrow, when complaining to a BA woman about plane delays and missing luggage got me a free pass into the Executive Lounge. Sometimes moaning pays dividends. She also looked into my luggage and said it hadn't even left Charleston. Unwashed for two days, wearing three day old tatty clothes, I felt like a tramp at the Ritz, but it soon passed. Here I could have had a shower if I'd been bothered, and practically done my weekly shop for free.
A rainy Sunday morning in London, flowed into a dreich afternoon in Glasgow – and today Anthony's put-down of Britain as a “tiny fog-bound island” was accurate. The sun had come out over the Lake District and Southern Uplands; tinged gold on the southern slopes and frosty on the northern sides, with creamy mist frothing up the valleys. The shapes of hills, fields, rivers and roads – so different to America - and all of them comforted me. The Rockies may well be striking, but there's nothing like the domes of home; sleek and soft, like sleeping dogs. Down in the Clyde Valley there was freezing fog.
On the bus two men peppered their shouting conversation with with sandpaper voiced swear words, belying their young years. On the phone one of them rasped, “Who do you think you're talking to you f***ing p**ck?... Right, I'll be round there in 20 minutes.” I don't know why Scottish accented four letter words sound so menacing compared to those delivered across the Ocean, where they almost sound cool. Everyone on the bus could hear them and no one said anything, including the driver. Walking home from the Christmas-lighted city centre I overheard a man smoking outside a pub say to his companion, “I'd chop his fingers off if he said that to me.” Aah, Glasgow.
Entering my flat was like walking into a freezer, as my lodger had been away. Lovely to be back amongst all my bits and bobs, have a bath and sleep in my bed. How fitting that I should return on St Andrew's Day and also the fifth anniversary of the end of my last relationship. New beginnings.
(As I write this - two days later - my luggage still hasn't been delivered. I have spoken to people at Glasgow, Heathrow, Gatwick, Atlanta and Charleston, but no one seems to know where it is. I'll let you know the outcome and write an appendix in the next few days.)