John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Thursday 12 June 2014

[China, 2014]

12:26 Cleethorpes (TransPennine Express)
13:38 Doncaster
13:46 Doncaster (East Coast)
15:27 London Kings Cross
15:42 London Kings Cross (London Underground)
15:57 London Paddington
16:25 London Paddington (Heathrow Express)
16:40 Heathrow Term123
16:48 Heathrow Term123 (Heathrow Express)
16:52 Heathrow Term 4
21:20 Depart London Heathrow
Day 1, UK to Shanghai
Depart London Heathrow on your scheduled flight.

Day 163 1 Kings 8; 1 Corinthians 9
…The taxi arrived at noon or a minute or so before, and took us to Cleethorpes railway station. Quite a hot day. As we expected, we were not able straight away to board the waiting train, but we could get into the little on-platform waiting room this time. On the train I got out the “little feller”…. The change of trains at Doncaster was without incident. The London train came to the adjacent platform a minute or two late, so we didn’t have to go up and over any tracks and Janet had time to buy a couple of sandwiches, a banana and an apple for me to eat. Did Day 162’s Bible reading (14:15), and Day 163’s, i.e. today’s (to 14:44), then listened to a bit of music; and so very soon, it seemed, we went into the tunnel just before Kings Cross station. It was hot in London. A helpful passer-by, guessing that we were looking for an entrance to the tube with a lift, pointed us in the right direction. We got the Circle Line to Paddington, boarded the nearest train because it had “Heathrow”-something written on the side, were advised by a helpful passenger that it didn’t go to Heathrow, found the right platform and train, and boarded. Repeatedly, helpful men carried Janet’s case up and down stairs. (Three uses of the word “helpful” in quick succession — for that’s how we found people to be, both on this visit to London and on the previous one.) I was able to carry my own case, though, and declined one kind offer. Although there was a lift down to the platform at the King’s Cross tube station, we still encountered stairs; and there was no lift back up at all at Paddington. We had to change trains at “Heathrow, Terminals 1, 2 and 3” for one going to “Terminal 4”. …A queue for baggage check-in at the China Eastern desks had already started when we arrived, though checking in didn’t start for several minutes. Extra leg-room seats were not available by the time we got to the desk, so evidently Chloe Tong at Mercury Direct hadn’t done anything to try to secure them for us. Passing through the security checks occurred uneventfully. We wandered about for a bit, before deciding what to do for eating. Janet bought some food items at W. H. Smith, then we went to a Lebanese restaurant where I had a flatbread with among other things lamb sausage slices on it, and a salad the name or foreign-word type of which Janet could tell me. Janet had a Pepsi Diet and I a “Mirinda”, the name in other countries for what I found in Rome named “Slam” on 12 May 2014. Then we sat in the concourse, and Janet ate what she’d bought.… We joined the queue at the boarding “gate”. The indication on the monitors was “gate open”; but, if so, why did we find ourselves at the end of a long queue waiting? When the “gate” was really “open”, the indication on the monitors changed to “boarding”. The seat configuration on the aircraft in “Economy” was 2 + 4 + 2. Janet and I passed through “Business” and one block of “Economy”, and our seats were about three rows down in the second block of “Economy”, to the left next to the window (right, looking in the direction of travel). The aircraft took off at 21:45, 25 minutes later than the scheduled 21:20. I found the seat uncomfortable, more suitable for someone smaller than me perhaps, and a bit hard for my bum, so the next 11 hours or so were quite a trial. I thought, “Not as bad as the night passed on the loo when I couldn’t pee, before I had the urinary catheter inserted.” We were served drinks a number of times — and the cabin crew passed by with water from time to time — and two full meals. The petite cabin attendants in their uniforms looked very pretty indeed. The window blinds were lowered, as dusk fell, continuing shut for most of the journey, but when I saw light round the edge of the one to my right only an hour or two later and raised it slightly I saw it was full, bright daylight again. We were quite far north — judging by the progress-map that was available on the monitor mounted on the seat in front — which would extend daylight time, and were flying in the direction of the rising sun. I watched a hour or so of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, but the sound quality in the headphones was quite poor and I couldn’t tell what was being said much of the time. But I paused it and shut my eyes every time I felt my eyelids becoming heavy. I gave it up, listed to a few Queen music tracks, kept checking our progress on the 3D maps that were available, watched a bit of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1, dozed, and slowly the time passed.…

[Friday 13 June 2014]

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