As I sit here in the departure lounge of Terminal 3 Heathrow Airport, I am struck by a sense of guilt. Myself and Amanda have decided to spend a bit extra and wait in the Servisair Lounge since we were going to be here five hours early. The lounge itself is filled with all the things that airports should provide to their customers but don't. Chairs you can actually sit in, things to read while you wait the four hours before your flight is scheduled to leave late. It's actually really nice. They give you free food and as far as I can tell they don't check how much of your allocated free quota you have consumed. Unless the waitress who comes around and cleans the tables is also secretly checking how many bowls of the free soup I've had, how many times the bowl of free olives has been refilled, how many free pretzels, nuts and crisps have found their way inside me... As you might have guessed, myself and Amanda have managed to create a lovely little dinner for ourselves out of the free items that we are currently being offered. Looking around the little lounge at our fellow occupants, filling up with as much of the free stuff as you can get does not seem to be the preeminent thought inside anyone else's minds. In fact they seem to be gently sipping glasses of wine and nursing their tiny beers as if they might be the last available drop on earth... I almost want to shout aloud to them all, my mouth stuffed with pretzels and crisp packets tumbling from my overloaded pockets, 'Don't you understand? It's free! They can't stop you from taking it!!' and dancing like a mad Satyr through the aisles spitting the Canada Dry Ginger Ale that I can never normally afford.
Needless to say, I think most of the people here can afford to bathe in Canada Dry Ginger Ale and therefore this special place is slightly lost on them...
However I think that if more people knew of this hallowed place then more average commuters would frequent it... given the average price of having food at an airport, the price that we paid to get in is actually saving us money. Go figure.
Today we are flying to New Zealand, I say today but I actually mean over a period of several days, it always takes half a week for me to return to the place of my birth. This is the first time I have brought anyone along for the ride. Manda is on the phone to her mum, ears perking up every now and again at the odd phrase from one of our fellow commuters in the lounge, 'Well you'll just have to get Daddy's lawyer's to take a look at it because I'm pretty sure they can't stop you building a sauna/steam/gym complex beneath your £5 Million pound terrace house.'
I have just noticed a man next to us, who is cuddling a huge bowlful of fruit and nut mix to his chest. He looks determined to eat the entire thing. Good on him. While usually a bowl of fruit and nut mix would be something that you would pick at whilst doing something else, this man is giving the bowl his full attention. He has just choked on an enormous cashew but I can see he is smiling through the tears. Only in a departure lounge could this be possible.
I am looking forward to seeing my homeland again, my mother and brother, his wife, my grandma and aunties, cousins and all my friends. Most of all I'm looking forward to introducing Amanda to all of this. One life meets another. I hope they will get on.
The man has just finished the bowl of fruit and nut mix. I see him glancing slyly at the buffet... go on, no one's gonna stop you.