Flying into Dubai on Emirates, the airline has sixty minutes to get my bags onto my connecting flight to the UK. The airline staff informs me that the luggage is on-board. I tell them that it is impossible, as I’ve just hopped off one plane and am ready to board another. I tell the staff I am not boarding until they have proof that my luggage is on the flight.
The Whinging Pome Random Rule Number 242 (and operational practice):
“Never board a connecting flight unless they confirm your luggage is on board.”
I have had my luggage lost/ delayed too many times due to late flights. If two different airlines are involved you best forget your luggage and go for the insurance claim.
I wait and watch all my fellow travelers getting on. I notice a lot of kids; they can be a nuisance. I smile at a rather attractive black lady, whose little boy is waving at me for some reason. Maybe my lips.
Boarding the flight, I notice the little boy in my business class seat, with his mum seated next to him. She is planning to travel the whole eight-hour flight with the kid on her knee. I give her the option of seats and she takes mine. The boy continues to engage with the old passenger next to him, yes, that’s me. However, he is not a disturbance during the whole flight.
We are on an old Boeing 777. The business class experience on this plane is possibly on par with Qatar Airway’s economy class. My joy of flying is curtailed given the need to wear the mask, and the various courses of my meal all come on one tray together. I have to say, the Emirates staff even in business class are not proactive on service. I always chuckle at the announcement “we have 18 staff speaking 13 languages”. I really don’t give a fu**, I just want great service. Qatar Airways has worked out that in general, Asian staff are more humble and less chatty amongst themselves.
Opposite me is a family. He is a Liverpudlian, dressed from top to toe in a branded formula one outfit. She is an East European wearing hot pants and a revealing top. The real problem is the daughter, about three years of age, is loud, moody and chatty. She sits opposite me across the aisle. I keep my headphones on for most of the flight.
I hire a pre-booked car from the airport. I argue as to why I am paying a daily premium because the car is from an airport car hire location. What a con. Other businesses do not put a premium on their services. This is a volume location and airports have fought hard to give the travelling public the assurance that they are not being ripped off by companies operating in the airport space. The car is category two, a small four-door, enhanced with low-profile tyres that are not needed. Every seat in the car is heated. Why does a basic car have to be adorned with top-end features? Obviously, it’s to push the rental price up.
My first journey is to Mansfield, in what I call middle England, a place you would never see a postcard of. I am off going to see my dad in King’s Mill Hospital. The car trip has no unpleasant surprises other than the red oil light flashing at me in my overpriced hire car. I was last here in Oct 2020 to say goodbye to my mother. Once she heard my voice and we touched each other’s hands, she passed away fifteen minutes later.
My dad is in the ward next to where my mother was. He is now frail but somewhat sweet curled up in his bed, not really the father of my youth. Having given up all his financial assets to get cared for by the state he has spent eight years in an old peoples home battling with Alzheimer’s. He is now losing his sight and is being moved to a more suitable facility. From being the responsibility of the local authority, he is now the responsibility of the National Health Authority. We go through the hoop of talking to endless people representing various groups we seek help from. These people are all working from home, making non-committal statements and clearly not understanding the current situation of my dad. One says, “We will assess your dad in twelve weeks and determine what the next steps will be and see what improvements he has made”.
“Read the bloody script!” I’m thinking. After eight years of progressively increasing Alzheimer’s and now blindness, without a miracle how is he going to improve his wellbeing/ situation?
Battling on we have dad going to Skylarks, which was a rehabilitation center for delinquent teenagers decades earlier. On visiting the place it is well run, with caring staff and a nice atmosphere. Will dad like it is my major concern. It’s more stressful for him but within a day, he settles in, acquires his seat in the lounge and gets into his new routine.
My added experience is one we all dread whilst travelling – I lose my phone. The total reliance on our phone hits me quite hard and quite quickly. I’m miles away from home driving around middle England in a hired car, trying with my sister to settle our dad into the next phase and possibly the last phase of his life.
Now we all assume that having lost an Apple phone, we can track it down. With some help, I track my phone down to a massive complex outside of Newark on Trent and I get there to see who has my phone. The complex is a couple of acres site with a garden center, a massive store, a restaurant that could seat over eighty people, and has a kid’s play center. Now one person somewhere here has my phone, but the Apples tracking system cannot identify where on the site it is or with which individual. With a workforce of 160 plus people and soon to be many shoppers, it looks like an impossible task, unless the phone’s new owner starts to move out of the complex.
It’s amazing that we have google maps, and amazing technology at our figure tips but I could not find the phone. You feel cut off, out of touch, unable to link with family and friends. Your confidential information, photos, etc. are potentially being reviewed by strangers as you try to block the phone. I use Apple’s find my phone feature to add a notice on the lock screen asking the new owner to ring my relatives telephone number. I’m about to fly out of the UK, and much of the info I need, including vaccination proof, is on my phone.
I surmount all the obstacles but it has been a week of anxiety, not just for me but I know more so for my dad.