Although Joni’s body-clock would have us believe that we are still somewhere in the mid-Atlantic, actually we are back in the UK, TAM Airlines notwithstanding.
The first connection delivered us to Sao Paulo airport without incident, where we discovered that our 22.45 flight had been renamed 23.45, but in any case wasn’t leaving till 01.00. Sure enough at 01.00 they loaded us all on, and then made us sit there until 03.00. The explanation given was that “the baggage was being loaded”. We couldn’t quite figure how the baggage could take that long to be loaded, and we suspect that the real explanation might be that “the baggage wasn’t being loaded”. In any case, it meant that Joni was fed up with the plane before it even left the tarmac, and the other passengers were probably equally fed up with Joni.
I have heard that some airlines give extra room to parents with babies (given that we pay a percentage of the ticket price for him), but TAM isn’t one of them, so we got to share a seat in the middle bank, in the middle of the plane. The meal thing is the biggest challenge, using one set of hands to pin down baby’s waving limbs, and the other set of hands to wrestle the lids off the containers, while not tipping anything over the people whose elbows are trapping mine by my side. I gave up on the cutlery; eating pasta with ones fingers might be indelicate but it ensured that some at least made its intended destination.
Arriving at Heathrow, we waited for a gate to become available (having missed our allocated landing time I guess), and on finally entering the terminal we found ourselves corralled into a passageway, behind a locked door, beyond which the bomb-squad were dealing with an incident in the immigration department. Luckily we were in Terminal four, so after immigration had eventually spat us out, we were quickly able to collect all our baggage from a moving carrousel, apart from the pushchair which was shortly delivered to our hands by a real person. Now there’s a novel idea for keeping the system moving, might someone suggest it to the gurus scratching their heads in Terminal five.
So here we are in sunny Baldock feeling slightly surreal, trying to figure out whether the last couple of years were a strange dream, which of our two worlds is the real one, and where the points of connection might be between them. Joni is bypassing such existential angst, and is busily categorising his two worlds according to flavour. Major discoveries associated with the UK so far include tinned baked beans, rusks, instant oat cereal, cheddar cheese…