Inbound to Heathrow and then on

We’ve not had such an easy flight since before we had children. Maybe it was the extra boost conferred by having a wife in a wheelchair that made Changi easier, but when we got on the flight the kids didn’t go mental, we weren’t carrying so much stuff that there was no space to fit our feet under the seats (now both girls get their own seats, we have a higher ratio of cargo to space) and when the children sat down, they dutifully watched TV for a couple of hours then actually _asked_ to be allowed to stop and go to sleep.
Then, aside from my foot and my left eyeball swelling painfully, all was fine. We got to Heathrow and a grumpy man loaded us all into an electric buggy and drove us to Immigration – down secret tunnels no able-bodied person ever sees. Passport control was simple, and then we got dumped at the special assistance counter, which is 4 chairs and a sign saying special assistance.

And that’s that. No phone number to call, nobody to speak to. After 20 minutes of waiting I went to the BA desk and asked, and they said to ask one of the guys in purple jackets.

I asked a guy in a purple jacket who was sitting near special assistance. He said it was not his job and ignored me after that. So thanks for that. Another guy turned up eventually, pushing a wheelchair, and then was pissed off for twenty minutes. So I ended up putting my wife in another wheelchair and pushing her and pulling a trolley full of luggage all the way through customs and in search of the mystical and invisbke special assistance bus.

Eventually, we took the train to Terminal 2. Lots of people helped us, and lots more people came to tell us we couldn’t take the trolley on the train. Again and again. Then another hike, this time with people helping to push the trolley and wheelchair, while I had to discipline my errant eldest daughter by holding her upside down when she was being particularly foolhardy, and so to the special assistance area in Terminal 2, an hour’s wait for the rest of the family to arrive from South London, and then we were fairly competent through security, even with various situationally unaware people trying to shove past half of our group of eight people.

One apparent difference between Singapore and Heathrow is that one has really well organised and doesn’t just dump mobility-challenged people in random places, and the other does, but solves for this via the kindness of random strangers offering ad hoc help to take up the slack. One might surmise this is why Londoners have a robust attitude to failure (because they’re continually encountering it) whereas when there’s a half hour delay on the underground train in Singapore, there’s much wailing, gnashing of teeth and demands for Something To Be Done. In London, a 30 minute delay on the Underground is equivalent to the trains running 5 minutes early. Who’s to say which is the right way to go?

No fingers lost in wheels, no possessions left behind at security. I guess it’s been a pretty good day, overall.

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