John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Monday 5 November 2012

[2012]
[Sunday 4 November 2012]

Tel Aviv–Heathrow–Cleethorpes
I woke up ca.2am, went to the loo (which involved turning on the light; that’s when I checked the time), then dozed. Curious to know how much time had passed, I switched the light on later and looked at my watch, and it was ca.3.45am. So I woke up Janet. Just as well: the alarm call didn’t come (again)! Mixed feelings about going home. Despite times when I was totally fed up (usually because I was left way behind all the others and catching up was painful and difficult), I really enjoyed being in Israel. “There’s no place like home” — but I could live with temperatures in the 30s all the time and not single figures! Ca.5.15am we headed with our luggage for the lobby (where there were coffee dispensers and cake laid out on a table), handed key cards in at the desk, and sat and waited. We boarded the coach ca.5.40am in the early morning twilight, and set off a little after 5.45am. This was slightly later than anticipated, but was on the instructions of Ben Gurion airport, to ensure that several coach-loads of tourists did not all arrive at once. Very efficient! We passed through rounded, forested hills on the dual-carriageway road; but where there were no trees, and between trees, there was bare ground, not grass. Norman said that when it was being decided what trees would be likely to survive, which species to plant, reference was made to the Bible. Then there were foothills, then the plain.

05:40:54 GMT+2 (03:40:54 GMT)
Boarding the waiting coach outside the Grand Court Hotel

05:44:38 GMT+2 (03:44:38 GMT)
The very “English”-looking tower of St. George’s Cathedral, visible from the coach as we are about to set off
We arrived at Ben Gurion International Airport, ca.6.30am. Waiting in one of the lines for security checks seemed to take a long time. One of our group was subjected to a luggage check. We were interviewed one by one, as on the outward journey. Janet had inadvertently put a small pair of scissors in her hand luggage, which set off the alarm. She was very anxious to stress that it was an oversight on her part. No harm done: they were just confiscated.

06:37:26 GMT+2 (04:37:26 GMT)
Entrance hall of Ben Gurion airport, Tel Aviv

08:22:24 GMT+2 (06:22:24 GMT)
Water feature in the centre of the airside shopping mall
It was a Boeing 777 “seven–seven–seven… sheva–sheva–sheva” on the way back, as it had been on the outward journey, but the TV screens were more modern, and worked better, than on the outward flight. I didn’t see the headphones in the pocket on the back of the seat in front till it was too late to watch a movie.

13:10:04 GMT+2 (11:10:04 GMT)
View from the seat in the aircraft

13:10:04 GMT+2 (11:10:04 GMT)
Detail from the above photo. Judging by the yellow line on the TV monitor, it was somewhere over Germany. It’s evidently commonplace to see men wearing the “kippah” on El Al flights, but it’s not something I normally see every day. I imagined the two men on the right being deep in debate about the finer points of the Torah. The fellow facing left looked as if he was saying “Oy vey!” The figure on the left was not the ghostly figure of death! — it was just the back of a woman with some sort of headdress covering her hair.
The way from the plane at Heathrow Airport to passport control was seemingly never-ending: a long, long way, then a turn; then a long, long way, then a turn; then a long, long way, then…. In the photo below, the plane can be seen by the first long building. The photo was taken from the third. The trek was mitigated by moving walkways. We went through automated passport gates, which scanned the chip in the passport, then matched the image of the person facing the camera with that in the passport. A person was still needed to help, though, e.g., when it wasn’t immediately obvious how to present the passport to the scanner. Would our luggage ever arrive at the baggage-carousel? I’d forgotten that it was quite a long trek from the terminal to the shuttle train for Paddington Station. The train-ticket booking specified the “15:48” train from Heathrow, but since there were no seat-reservations on that leg of the journey, we figured that it would be OK to get the first train that came along.

13:21:38 GMT (15:21:38 GMT+2)
Unloading the baggage from our aeroplane
We got a taxi to Kings Cross station; we didn’t brave the Underground. So It was a bit after 3pm when we arrived, and we had till 17:03 before our train was due to leave; and it was cold, but we found a warm bar–restaurant on an upper level (served by a lift), called The Parcel Yard — presumably on the site of the old station parcels office. It had enamel signs, e.g.LADIES”, “GENTLEMEN”, in the old British Railways style. I had a cheese and bacon burger and chips, with a pint of Veltins, a German Pilsener beer, surprisingly bitter (and costly!); and Janet had a pint of Pepsi Diet.

15:41:54 GMT (17:41:54 GMT+2)
The Parcel Yard pub/restaurant in Kings Cross railway station
When the time to go for the train, we’d left a rather narrow margin of time to get out of the establishment, down the lift, along the concourse quite a long way to the platform — and almost the whole length of a very long train. It was a rush for my poor, sore feet, but we made it. “I’d realised a bit earlier that we’d been up since 2am “real” time!” Janet wrote. “It was bloody cold and draughty on that train and I was COLD! When we got to Doncaster we sat in the waiting room and it was bloody freezing in there. Fortunately, the train to Cleethorpes was lovely and toasty.”

17:00:34 GMT (19:00:34 GMT+2)
On board the East Coast London–Leeds train, waiting to go to Doncaster
We got off at Grimsby Town station because of the ease of getting taxis from the always-populated taxi rank in the station forecourt. There was a message from Pat just coming to an end as Janet opened the front door. I was still outside and didn’t hear it. Janet reported that by the tone of voice it sounded like bad news. I played it back; and yes, her uncle Eddie had died: pneumonia (lung cancer was mentioned). Janet felt too weary to face calling Pat back; what’s more, it wouldn’t make any difference to leave it till tomorrow.… The house was bitterly cold because it had not been heated for several days, and it took a long time to warm up after the central heating was switched on. While Janet was upstairs unpacking just the essential things I rang Mum and told her we’d just got back. Janet went to bed shortly after that.… Changed the dressing on my right foot; was at last able to use the correct irrigation solution, with which I soaked a swab and applied to the lesion for 10 minutes or more. The lesion had got worse and spread.… Getting into bed later was initially like getting between two sheets of ice; Janet was on the far side, but no warmth had filtered through to my side. I shivered and shivered for quite some time.


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