I was quite tired when I turned up at the plane, on my way to Paris. As usual the London Underground had let me down, and there was no direct train to Terminal 5. When I finally got on the smallish plane, I was quite annoyed to see a woman in my window seat. It was a fairly straightforward process these days after all, just go online, pay, check in, then confirm your seat. She was wearing a burka. I waved my boarding pass in front of her.
“Twenty three A?” I asked her.
“Oh,… am I B?” she asked me, in an English accent.
She gave me a little girl’s look and pleaded with her eyes, and nearly said something.
“It’s been a long day,” I said to her and the look on my face made her move.
I sat down, fastened my seat belt and then closed my eyes, though I knew sleep was unlikely.
Then there was some kind of commotion. Her sister who was sitting across the aisle said she could not sit next to a man.
“I can, but my sister cannot,” the one next to me said to the air-hostess.
“Perhaps she would prefer not to travel then,” said the air-hostess, which made quite a few of us smirk.
But in the end the sister got her way, and then the woman next to me moved away to sit with her.
I looked out the window, while the sun poured through, and noticed that every plane, like ours, was British Airways, and I smiled and wondered how my father, who had flown for BOAC for twenty five years would have thought about it all.
It was a fitting way to leave England, which of course, is beyond repair.