Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Traveller Returns

Dubai was hot, unbearably so with no real chance to acclimatize and the air conditioning in the hotels simply making things worse, with the temperature gap between outdoors and indoors being more than 20 degrees Celsius. In the photo, it's hard to be sure whether the man lying on the trolley has either expired from the heat or is having a siesta.

Across my own hotel was the world's tallest building, only recently opened and you can quickly get a stiff neck from looking up at it. Whether it's possible to walk-up the stairs to the top without the aid of oxygen I don't know but I did rather think of the firefighters trying to climb the stairs after the 911 incident and this building dwarfs the likes of our own iconic 'Gherkin' and Post Office Tower .

Two O'clock in the morning and the enormous duty free mall at Dubai airport is busy. I notice that Apple's Ipad is already available there and if your eye catches a Porsche or a Rolex, they'll wrap that too! Thanks to the joys of modern airline travel, I'm already suffering from a racking cough and dosed-up on Panadol; I don't want to shop, I simply want to get home.

Waiting for my bags eight hours later beside the carousel at Heathrow Terminal 3, the alarm suddenly goes-off and the baggage stops rolling. A woman in rainbow garb, from a family which appears to originate from some brighter and more distant land, has pressed the big red 'Emergency Stop' button so that she can collect her bag. She presses it several more times perhaps thinking that the carousel will restart but instead, a disembodied voice announces that the emergency stop system has been activated and that technicians have been called to reset the system. In our Health & Safety culture you don't simply turn-up and switch it on again. No, reports have to be made and a specially qualified individual with a reset code has to be summoned from somewhere in the bowels of the airport. Passengers mutter and stare angrily in the direction of the culprit who remains quite oblivious; it appears to the connection between her pressing the big red button and the baggage system stopping. It takes fifteen minutes before the bags start rolling again.

Within sight of my home at the top of Westgate bay Avenue, I spot a figure rolling by the side of the road at the junction of Sea Road, Several cars pass by and ignore him before I pull my motorcycle into the kerb and stop. It's an elderly gentleman that I recognize from the town. He's fallen and has a badly gashed head that is bleeding profusely. He's conscious but quite shaken and otherwise unhurt. An ambulance is called and several passers-by come and help while we wait for it to appear. Fortunately, I have a clean duster in my motorcycle top-box and can use this to apply pressure and staunch the flow of blood. He's one of the 'Old-school', 79 and doesn't like to make a fuss. The ambulance arrives and I leave him in their capable hands, quickly passing them the necessary protocol details, "AMPLE", before I finally drive the last few hundred yards to my home and the first cup of tea since Sunday.

Just a thought though after a ride to Heathrow and back. People have been telling me the traffic is much lighter these days, possibly a consequence of the economy but on Sunday evening I expected the roads to be packed with people coming home from the coast and they weren't and today, at the peak of rush hour, there were no stoppages whatsoever on the M25. I sped straight home. So there is something we can thank the last Labour government for. They appear to have solved the M25 traffic jam problem through a clever tweak of the economy. Quite brilliant!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wondered what had happened to Gordon Brown