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I just spent the best nine days overseas. My younger son, Ben, the avowed bachelor, got married. He’d been a pop star, performing around the world for a few years now, but having met a Turkish-German woman who is gorgeous inside and out, he decided to trade his leather pants for a polo shirt and “get a real job.” Here’s an article telling the tale.

The wedding could not have been more perfect. My ex-husband and I even got along for four whole days. Wow! The day2015-09-05 16.47.40 after the wedding I flew to the UK. Life imitating art, like my character Claudia Rose, I had been invited to present a lecture at the prestigious British Institute of Graphologists.

The lecture went as well as the wedding, and it was lovely to see some old friends, too. That night I stayed in a hotel room the size of a walk-in closet. The headboard and footboard of the twin bed touched each wall and the bathroom fixtures didn’t quite work the way they should. But it was part of the adventure and I laid in that tiny bed on Sunday morning, thinking to myself, “I’m in London!!!”

In my last post I mentioned I would be doing research for my wip whilst in the UK (look how my English accent came back straight away). I wrote about the importance of actually visiting where you’re writing about to give your story verisimilitude. But it was not until I was at Charing Cross Station that I ‘got’ why what I’d written was not going to work. Being there really does make all the difference. I understood what to do to fix it.

Next stop, Sidcup, Kent, whOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAere I stayed for a couple of days. My friend Janet makes the best bangers and mash. We were in Eltham High Street last Tuesday, gorging on sausage rolls and scones, when I got an unexpected text message from Lufthansa Airlines. My flight the next day had been cancelled. I learned later that the pilots had gone on strike. How nice.

After an anxious afternoon burning up mobile minutes, I got the last seat on another flight back to the US. Had I known I was booking on Screaming Baby Airlines (otherwise known as Norwegian), I would have stayed in the UK another day. Who knew that a one-year-old baby girl could shriek at the to
p of her lungs for most of 12.5 hours straight? Why was she screaming, you wonder? It seem that, having recently acquired the skill of perambulation, she thought it would be great fun to run up and down the aisle with daddy in tow. Of course, that was not permitted while airborne, so she let everyone within earshot know just how irate she was. For the entire flight and beyond. The irony is, when I’d checked in at the ticket counter, the very nice agent had said, “Let’s see if we can find you a better seat.” Little did we know that the “better” seat would be right next to said screaming baby.scream

So, attempting to block the noise, I plugged in my earphones and watched Gone Girl for the second time. After that, The Interns. Then a show about animals. My ears were bleeding by then (okay, so it just felt like it). The young man next to me had his fingers stuck in
his ears. A friend later suggested “baby benadril,” but apparently there are rules against drugging little kids. Oh, and by the way, all the screaming came about after we’d already been sitting on the runway for an hour at the beginning of the flight. The captain announced that a passenger was “not fit to fly” and needed to be escorted off the plane. I took that as meaning “stinking drunk.”

Finally arriving at LAX after the 10 hour flight we were stuck at the gate for an additional 90 minutes, waiting for an Air France flight to move. By 8:45 when we deplaned, I’d been up 24 hours and was close to freaking out—the last shuttle home to Ventura (60 miles from LAX) was at 9:30 pm. After a lengthy walk to Customs and Immigration, I found there was not one, not two, but three loooong lines to go through. Could the system be any more inefficient? Can someone tell me the point of having to show your documents three times in the same facility? Thank goodness I only had carry-on luggage.

Amazingly, after throwing myself on the mercy of the Customs agents, I made it to the shuttle with 10 minutes to spare. And since I did get home safely and all I have to deal with is jet lag, I’m pretty happy—at least I wasn’t on the BEA flight that burst into flames in Las Vegas just before take off the day before! Any safe landing is a good landing.

Feel free to leave a comment with your own travel from hell stories at http://algonquinredux.com/la-frankfurt-london-la/

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To sign up for information about Outside the Lines, the next Claudia Rose Forensic Handwriting Mystery, email: sheila@sheilalowe.com.