Friday 20 May 2011

Above us only sky

This post was intended to be published at the end of last week but problems with blogger prevented its' publication.

On May 2 when I switched on the radio and heard that Osama bin Laden had been killed I was pleased to hear the news, but I also had misgivings over rejoicing at he death of anyone, even if they were as evil as Osama bin Laden, who was responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent people. I did not have much time to think about this as I had a busy day ahead of me.  The following day we were flying to Amsterdam for a short break. By the evening every thing was done and we were packed and ready for an early-ish start the following day. Then the trepidation set in and I began to wonder if it was such a good idea to be flying the day after the demise of Osama bin Laden. al-Quaeda would no doubt be retaliating, unless they had been weaken to the point where they were unable to do so.

Our flying record isn't great. We had not flown since 2005. We were trying to book a holiday, abroad, in 2006 around the time that the terrorist bomb plot to blow up airlines, flying between Heathrow and the US, using liquid explosives, was discovered, which resulted in the current liquid restrictions. At the time there was so much uncertainty that we decided to holiday in the UK, avoiding the need for flying. This trip to Amsterdam was to be a practice, so that we could become familiar with the new regulations, in preparation for a trip, later in the year, to see husband's nephew, who is working in California. In the intervening years we have travelled by ferry to Ireland and France. It is a much more relaxed means of travelling.

The following day, May 3, security was tight at Liverpool's John Lennon airport. For the first time ever I set off the scanner and had to be frisked. They did not find anything. The same thing happened with the more sophisticated scanning equipment at Amsterdam's Schipol airport on our return. The culprit was the zip of my jeans.

When we went on our honeymoon our flight was delayed while the bags of passengers who had checked in, but not boarded the plane were located and taken off. That delayed us by about an hour. That is not an unusual event, but we had the misfortune to be flying on 11 September 2011. We were actually in the air when the Twin Tours in New York were attacked. We has been on holiday to Crete and by my estimation were flying over Paris around the time that the planes hit the World Trade Center. We did not know anything about the incident until we were out of Gatwick airport and in our car, on our way home. We had stopped for fuel and as husband was at the pump I heard the end of a news flash on the car radio and I remember hearing 'skyline changed forever' and 'all flights cancelled'. There had not been any problems a Gatwick. As we drove through the leafy, winding and sometimes narrow lanes of Surrey we heard another news flash, in full this time. Then husband started fiddling with the car radio trying to get more information about the disaster. I switched the radio off. He was driving. Once we were home we were able to see, on the TV, the full incident in all its' technicolour glory, several times over. Even though we had had a long day I did not sleep well on the night of 11 September. My mind was too busy thinking. Why had this disaster happened? Could it have been us? Had we had a lucky escape? Why New York? Why not London or even Paris? At that point the ins and outs and full details of the disaster were not known.

We had a very pleasant, if very chilly few days in Amsterdam. We took an open top bus tour of Amsterdam, went on a canal cruise, walked for miles, saw diamonds being polished and visited Anne Frank's house. I had read that visitors to the house commented  that the hairs on the back of their neck stood up on entering the house and truly they did!

The practice went well. We made it there and back. Nothing was confiscated at the airport, so we got he packing right. However, we have decided to postpone our planned trip to the US as we consider that travelling to and in the US during the Autumn/Fall of the tenth anniversary of 9/11 is too risky, especially when the architect of it all has just come to a sticky end.