I’m not sure I’m cut out for a career in pre-sales as I have an irritating tendency to blush and my left eye twitches horribly when I tell half-truths.
However, on Sunday afternoon, in order to welcome my loved ones back from Holland, I donned a smart dark suit with a crisp white shirt and business-like grey tie. I then loitered around the lower level of Heathrow Terminal 1. I chose to invest the money I saved on the standard taxi fare in a very stylish (and not stupid looking) Bluetooth headset offering hands free operation.
As the incoming flight was inevitably delayed by two spaced out students who checked in and then spent another hour checking out every single item for sale in every single retail outlet at Schipol, I had an unexpected 75 minutes to kill so I wandered around keeping an eye out for celebrities, potential terrorists or weirdos.
A lovely, foreign lady approached me and asked how to get to ‘Terminal 2 Lufthansa, please’ so I consulted the information board and directed her to Bus Stop 1 for the courtesy bus. Curiously, this selfless act human kindness and my authoritative presence led to a flurry of more people approaching asking for assistance: ‘Where to check-in for BMI to Copenhagen ?’, ‘Where to get English money ?’, ‘When will BA74 from Brussels arrive ?’ and ‘Why are the toilets so (expletive deleted) filthy ?’
I cheerfully answered the questions free of charge: ‘Upstairs’, ‘Currency Exchange or that cashpoint might be cheaper’, ‘Sorry - no idea’ and ‘Don’t know where you come from but that’s spotless by British standards’.
Finally, after an overpriced medium Latte, the flight landed and the
monitor changed from ‘BD108 Amsterdam: Expected
16:37’ to ‘Landed 16:45’ and finally to ‘Baggage in hall’.
I carefully pulled out a sheet of A4 paper and inscribed ‘BRIGHTSIDE’ in blue marker pen. I quickly called my son at home, told him to get the roast out of the oven, hoover throughout, wash the toilets, air the washing and call me back immediately.
My glorious headset illuminated ‘Blue’ and I told my controller ‘Yeah - I’m just picking up at T1 now. Can make Wimbledon in 55 minutes. Roger. Over and out.’
I then identified prime position on the metal barrier and squeezed in next to a young lady keenly waiting for her boyfriend who had been ski-ing (and unfaithful) in Austria. I unzipped my jacket and extracted my outsize A4 sign which I held aloft. The lady muttered ‘Bloody minicab drivers.’
New arrivals from India, America and Western Europe looked enquiringly at my sign but I shook my head with disdain. Tall people riding bicycles, smoking tulips and carrying joints emerged. At last, the Amsterdam flight was here.
Finally, Norma and Norma Jean arrived. My daughter’s face went bright pink, she frowned and nudged her mother who was completely oblivious. I proudly held the ‘BRIGHTSIDE’ sign even higher and fiddled with the volume on my Borg headset.
After hearing about Anne Frank’s house, the red light area and the ‘coffee shops’, I helped to unload the heavy suitcase and opened the front door for the excited but exhausted European globetrotters. When I politely asked about the possibility of a tip, Norma replied:
‘Yeah. I’ll give you an excellent tip. Never eat yellow snow.’