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U3A Writing: Travellers At Terminal Five

Barry Mansell tells of problems at Terminal Five.

For those who travel by air, Terminal Five at Heathrow London Airport has become well know as a place where a travelers' luggage might disappear. A time traveller who passes through man places in space, often with some difficulty could encounter some problems of his own at Terminal Five, so you can imagine that a certain Doctor who has had a variety of ladies accompany him on his travels, could well arrive at the wrong time and place not entirely of his own planning. Our story begins one.

"What do you mean you need a new top now?" asked a concerned Doctor incredulously. His female companion gave him a look that meant right now was a good time, "And where will we get it from?' "There is a lovely little shop in Terminal Five at London Airport," came the cheerful response.

He realised this was one of the problems of having a female companion, but dutifully and quietly set the co-ordinates into the navigation system, then a thought struck him, 'Women's fashions are in constant evolution. What date would suit your tastes?"

She realised how important it was and brightly replied, "Tomorrow!" He smiled "Tomorrow it is then," tapping in this vital fashion detail.

Their arrival in the busy luggage handling area below the terminal’s vast public concourse was not observed by the numerous handlers in the uproar of vehicle and aircraft noise and the mountains of luggage hid their blue box which nestled amongst several pallets of assorted luggage bound for sunny Italy, their owners however were probably in Sydney, Anchorage or even Newport.

As the stay was only fleeting they barely needed to discuss parking arrangements with the handlers, did they?

Their casual stroll toward the lift created no interest as they passed the handlers' tea room, in fact their animated chatter about last night’s football results seemed the central concern of those inside.

On arrival in the vast array of commercial activity, she sighted her favourite shop Cindy's overflowing with colourful ladies apparel. His parting remark, "I am for a Latte," pointing at the nearby Starbucks. She waved and strode with total pleasure into her own special heaven.

In less than half hour she emerged with a large plastic bag emblazoned with 'Cindy's", obviously full of unbelievable bargains from the world's designer labels, or so she assured him, he smiled, of course where else could you find such value?

They departed for the luggage handling area. A minor problem with a security device in the lift was quickly resolved with his ever useful pocket tool.

Arrival at the parking point for the blue box brought an unexpected surprise. Where once sat the mountains of palleted luggage, was now a cleared and very vacant space, but where had it gone?
A handler seeing the odd couple looking somewhat lost and entirely out of place, certainly not the traditional suited management types that frequently ventured into this world of luggage chaos, enquired into the obvious, "Got a problem, Guv?'

Indeed there was a problem, "Where is the blue box I left here?" The handler was blessed with a superb short term memory, pointed in the direction of a slowly taxiing Boeing 747 Freighter outside, "On its way to Italy for sorting with the rest of the bleedin' misplaced luggage in this section, in fact the blue box was not carrying any labels at all as I recall, an old Police Box was it Guv?"

The furrowed brow of the alleged 'Guv' showed it was slowly dawning on him, it was April 2008, Terminal Five, Heathrow London. How could he have been so silly, women are the distraction of even thinking men.

By the time the consequences of this mistiming had sunk into the new reality, the departing aircraft could be heard rumbling into the clouded sky on its way to sunny Italy.

Now travel in the blue box was easy, you required no money, travel bookings, accommodation or passports but travel to Italy from London Airport without any of these necessities is totally different. Thankfully this Doctor had wide connections in both time and space even in London.

Some days later following some tedious arranging through friends with influence they arrived in Italy and finally found the blue box almost buried in the ever growing piles of baggage. He had to admit her new designer label tops did suit her and were a great hit with his friends as they departed on yet another chaotic journey, but, (shudder) not to Terminal Five.

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