Believe No One takes Fennimore & Simms to the United States Mid West.
These blogs document the places we visited and people we met during the research trip.
My new drivers’ licence arrived in the post with just days to spare, and my broken hand was declared mended on 25th April 2012. I was officially, legally able to hire a car and medically fit drive in the United States. Which was just as well, since we’d bought non-refundable, non-deferrable tickets. We’re on our way at last!
We take a taxi to Manchester airport, arriving – as instructed – 4 hours before our flight to London. Airport security has been heightened even further in the last few weeks – ‘security-friendly’ laptop bags are going a bundle on Amazon, and there is even advice online about how to get through security checks faster. It’s a year since Osama bin Laden was killed. When we get to Manchester, the airport is closed. Really – steel shutters, padlocks, the lot. We make a 15 minute trek from one terminal to another and in all that time we see just one lone cleaner, buffing the floors, and a Chinese couple, asleep on a couch in a waiting area. There is NOBODY to ask if we’ve got the right terminal, and the signage is not yet up for our flight in either of the terminals we try.
A friendly pilot passing through an hour later tells us he’s ‘fairly sure’ we have the right terminal. But best to check when the desks open. An hour after that, lights start to come on, passengers begin to arrive, but our check-in desk remains firmly locked. We resort to the e-check in kiosks and process our e-tickets. They spit out a flight to London that will make it impossible to make our connecting flight. But there’s still no one at the desks. An hour before our scheduled flight, the check-in desks finally open. A woman elbows ahead of us in the queue, using her trolley and cases as a kind of road block. She tries to check in a bag that’s bigger than she is as hand luggage. After she is sent away to reconsider her travel options, we shuffle up to the desk. At first the desk clerk can’t see our problem, but when I point out that our flight to London will take off from Manchester ten minutes after our flight to Tulsa departs from Heathrow, she issues us with new tickets and rushes us through to security – our plane is about to leave.
My itinerary reads: ‘Afternoon, Murf and Margaret arrive in Tulsa.’ But as Robbie Burns so aptly observed, the best laid schemes gang aft a-gley. We miss our connection from to Tulsa because Houston Airport Security say they will have to chemically test the meds in my hand luggage to check that they don’t contain any explosives. Others have been delayed, too, and we think there’s a chance they’ll have to hold the flight. But we’re the last through; we run to the gate, but our flight left 7 minutes ago.
I’m looking as rough as I feel, here, seventeen hours into our journey, waiting at Houston for the later flight. We finally arrive at the hotel at about nine in the evening, USA time, order room service, and collapse into bed. The staff are excited – apparently we’re missing Van Halen at the BOK Centre.