March 11th, 2005


A memory from my first trip to England.

Someone on LJ mentioned a British TV show called "The Year London Blew Up", which reminded me of my first trip to England, which was right around the '73/'74 time period, when I was about five.

As a kid, it seemed like the British were very odd people. It was hard to understand what they said -- their accents were much stronger than that of my mother -- and it seemed odd to me that people would walk in very large circles around public trash bins, only occasionally using them with a strange mix of haste and trepidation.

Looking back, the most disconcerting part of that trip when we were travelling back to the States from Heathrow. We had boarded the plane and we were on the tarmac, just about ready to take off. Suddenly, there was an uneasy chill in the plane that radiated quickly towards the back of the plane. Stewardesses, trying -- and completely failing -- to be somewhat discreet, started asking the male passengers, "Are you a Mr. Smith? A mister John Smith?" Apparently, Mr. Smith's luggage was stowed onboard the plane, but Mr. Smith himself wasn't anywhere to be found.

It seemed odd as a kid to see so many adults, obviously worried over nothing of importance. Peanuts and soda were still served while we waited, after all. The only negative was that we had to wait for four hours for all the luggage to be removed from the plane and presumably searched thoroughly. It was a good flight for a kid, with an unbelievable amount of turbulence, which I thought was tremendously entertaining.

My concerns were far more obvious: the heat, smell, and general stuffiness, all the adults who were chain smoking near the best observation window, the risk of using the plane's toilet at such an altitude, and just how boring the view was over the Atlantic. Oh, and I can swear, in my rememberance of the plane, that a stewardess stuck a bandaid, tape, or something of the sort to the floor, which made me wonder just how solidly put together the plane was.

In retrospect, I'm glad I was a kid at the time.