Listening. Watching. Wondering.
We often comment that we could spend all day watching folks going about their business. Actually, some years ago we did exactly that, spending the last day of our trip in Auckland NZ in the days when businesses (including shops) closed all day Saturday. No point in hanging around a closed city centre then, so we went to the airport and waited all day for our midnight flight, sitting in a variety of lounges entertained by a succession of walk-on characters. The day passed surprisingly quickly!
It was a quiet day in the airport today, Easter Sunday, and the atmosphere in the lounge was peaceful and tranquil. As I sat knitting, I considered it quiet enough to hear a pin drop, though as soon as I’d had the thought, I paid a bit more attention. There was some fairly quiet background music playing - Fleetwood Mac, I think - and overlaid on top of that, the sound of the TV sports commentary that someone had switched on over the way. The woman sitting behind us was having a lively conversation on her phone to, I guess, a friend and the discussion centred upon a third person who had fallen from grace big-time by the sounds of it. I couldn’t hear the details but from the mere manner of her conversation, I could tell she was not best pleased.
From time to time, one or two people would walk through, chatting as they went. Countless novels must be inspired by these snippets of conversations; meaningless fragments open to all kinds of interpretations. But one sound was getting gradually louder; the snores coming from the corner just across the way where a chap had laid himself out across a sofa and fallen fast asleep - until he woke himself up with one rather loud snort and sat up, looking a bit sheepish.
I wonder if anyone was listening to the click of my knitting needles?
We all pricked our ears up when we heard the arrival of the Easter Bunny! Actually, two young women wheeling a trolley of delicious chocolates to which we were all invited to help ourselves. Somehow, Easter has passed both of us by this year, what with our travels and Edward and Amy’s house move. What a nice way to be reminded though!
When it came time to board our plane, that wasn’t busy either. Clearly, Easter Sunday is a fine day to travel! We settled ourselves in for the 11 h 30m flight to Narita and noted the wealth of films we fancied watching. First up for me was A Star is Born, closely followed by Bohemian Rhapsody. We’d missed both of them at the cinema and though it’s not at all the same watching them on such a tiny screen, as far as entertainment to pass the time goes, then I was happy. My Hero opted for The Favourite and was planning to watch Laurel and Hardy, had he not fallen asleep instead. Maybe we will catch up further on our homeward journey?
I thought of my friend Anne when I took a look at the flight map. She loves to look up unfamiliar places in her atlas and on this occasion, I think unfamiliar is possibly an understatement! I consider myself to be pretty good at identifying strange parts of the world but here, I was stumped.
A short while later we appeared to be flying over a large doughnut set on a clear blue plate. I couldn’t wait to get out my map and work out where we flew.
At last, we were waking up for breakfast and peering out over the snow mountains of northern Japan. The Captain announced that we had twenty minutes to landing and then a short while later, asked the cabin crew to take their seats. What a great flight we’d had; not a bump or seatbelt warning at any time during those eleven hours which had passed very quickly indeed. As we descended into the airport environment and sped towards the runway, we waited for the thud of touchdown…
except we didn’t touchdown, but kept going, speeding up and taking off again. What?
I must say, a real hush followed throughout the whole plane as everyone realised what had happened and wondered what’s up? I could see two cabin stewards sitting chatting and took comfort in that, knowing that if action was needed, then they would not be sitting quite so calmly. My hero had heard the landing gear come down, so we knew that was in order…perhaps there had been some kind of obstruction on the runway?
Well, we didn’t have to wait and wonder long, because the Captain came over the loudspeaker to explain what had happened. It seems as though he had been unable to get assurance he needed that the cabin was secure for landing, because a passenger was still using one of the washrooms! As a result, we had an additional go-around, using who knows how much extra fuel too. We were left wondering what fool disregards all the warnings that we’ll be landing shortly and things need to be sorted!
Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait very long at all, for we hardly stopped walking as we went through the various immigration and customs procedures, finding our waiting car and driver already there.
Ever since we first came to Japan in 1994, we’ve marvelled at the white-gloved attire of the private hire drivers and the elaborate lace decor of their cars.
Oh Japan, it’s so good to be back!
(In case some further explanation is needed regarding the background to our love of the country and her people, may I offer this link?)