I am at Heathrow airport because there's someone I have to meet. I just don't yet know whoby Richard Beard / April 29, 2007 / Leave a comment
Published in April 2007 issue of Prospect Magazine
Heathrow airport is one of the few places in England you can be sure of seeing a gun. These guns are carried by policemen in short-sleeved shirts and black flak jackets, alert for terrorists about to blow up Tie Rack. They are unlikely to confront me directly, but if they do I shall tell them the truth. I shall state my business. I’m planning to stop at Heathrow airport until I see someone I know.
In the busiest airport in the world this shouldn’t take long, and I expect to be home before Ally leaves for work. It is 06.43. My gaze slides between so many faces that I instantly forget everyone I don’t recognise, except for a young girl, 11 or 12, looking Lebanese and wearing a wedding dress. She has red cotton flowers dotting her black hairband, a tight curve over her wild, swept-back hair. She is someone I do not know.
Go to the busiest place and stay there. I’m always telling Victor and Clemmy that we have to do what makes sense, and I’m now leaning expectantly against the barrier at Terminal 1 arrivals.
Astonishingly, I wait for thirty-nine minutes and don’t see one person I know. Not one, and no one knows me. I’m as anonymous as the drivers with their universal name-cards (some surnames I know), except the drivers are better dressed. Since the kids, whatever I wear looks like pyjamas. Coats, shirts, T-shirts, jeans, suits; like slept-in pyjamas.
The first call comes at about 07.15. Feeling detached and powerful, I let the phone vibrate jauntily in my pocket. There’s a second call ten minutes later. I check it’s Ally, as if expecting someone else, and then turn off the phone.
Most of the passengers arriving from Glasgow (BA1473 07.00), Manchester (BD6614 07.10) and Aberdeen (BD671 07.20) are men, including Celtic football fans in green-and-white hooped je…