When one is in a foreign country, one expects every day to be memorable, even when nothing much happens, such as going to the bank, looking for a restaurant, or picking up laundry. On such a day, when passing through Frankfurt, I popped into the airport to check my flight to Rio de Janiero, via London, in nine days time, was on schedule. No surprise, everything was spot on. With that done, I turned to leave the terminal with the objective of making the most of those final nine days in Germany, exploring the delights of the valley of the Rhine. Suddenly, I stopped, stood still for a moment, had a quick think, and then turned and went back to the attendant who had just confirmed my flight.

"I've changed my mind. Instead of leaving here in nine days time and only passing through London on the way to Rio, I want to go to London right now. I'll catch the Rio plane in London in nine days time."

"You can't do that," said the attendant.

"Of course I can. This is the biggest airport in Europe. Planes fly in and out all the time, so don't tell me I can't."

"You'll have to go to the window over there."

On arriving at the window, I made the same request.

"You'll have to go to that window over there."

I returned to the window where I had previously been.

"I've been sent back here. I refuse to leave until you hand me a boarding-pass"

The middle-aged German frau, with her hair done in a bun, began typing, while rolling her eyes in a gesture of resignation.

"Here is your boarding-pass, sir."

"Danke schön!" I said, gratefully.

Two hours later, I was in London for the first time in 56 years.

Previous | Home | Next