Coming back to Singapore was a lot was easier than going out. For a start, instead of a decrepit 747, the plane on the way back was a nice new 777, with an entertainment system that didn’t crap out after 90 minutes. That’s more than you could say for me; I watched the end of the second Captain America film, the first half hour of the first episode of True Detective, and then I woke up with drool all down my shirt, many hours later.
As luck would have it, there was nobody in the window seat, so instead of 47B being an aggravating repeat of two weeks ago, I could spread across two seats. Unfortunately, the armrests on the seats don’t go all the way up to vertical, so I couldn’t lie across both seats, but it was great just to not be sat half in the lap of the passenger next to me.
I woke twice. The first time, I read through the first half of Guy Martin’s autobiography, then fell back asleep again. I have no idea where that was, but I came round again with only 80 minutes to go, so I think I succeeded in getting a decent amount of sleep. I had enough time to watch the first half of Frozen before we landed, and the disembarkation process was painless; I picked my suitcase straight off the carousel and was getting out of a taxi at home an hour after the plane touched the tarmac.
My suitcase is wonderful because it’s bright yellow and really shows up at baggage reclaim, but that also means it really shows up every scuff and grease mark, so I spent this evening, in between eating hummus and attempting to unpack, rubbing at it with a lemon oil-soaked cloth; it still looks a bit dirty, but that’s nothing compared to the blackened mess it was a couple of hours ago.
Heathrow feels a million miles away now. I stood in the VAT claim line for half an hour, to claim back two pounds on some socks I bought at M&S. Two pounds is a trivial amount; everyone around me in the massively disorganised queue seemed to have emptied the shelves at Harrods of all the expensive crap they could carry/wheel/slide across the floor, but when you arrive at Heathrow three hours before your flight, your time is so worthless that it makes sense to spend it in return for two pounds.
Actually, doing that saved me money, because when I’m alone, wandering purposelessly around an airport, I tend to make unwise purchases. As it was, I felt a bit stung when I tried out Gordon Ramsey’s Plane Food restaurant. All I wanted was a drink and a salad, but I didn’t notice the 1.50 cover charge, which qualified for another 10% service charge. Maybe everyone else was aware of this and gave it a wide berth, as the place was pretty empty; the salad was good, but I’m not sure the table was so goof as to justify a further cost like that. Still, between that and my VAT refund I suppose I was slightly ahead.
Heathrow Terminal 5 remains a very pleasant place to wait for a flight. I do worry that everything is rather high-end; I know that all the package holiday makers are meant to go out of Gatwick and the beautiful rich have Heathrow to themselves, but if you have kids and want something cheaper than a caviar bar, the choices are a bit limited. But I suppose we all need to spend to ensure the British economy recovers. And at least we’re not in the grotty hell that is any of the New York airports.
Well, not for another three weeks. I’ll carry on polishing my suitcase until then.