HONEST REPORTS, DAY BY DAY FROM QUARANTINE HOTEL, HOLIDAY INN HEATHROW (SEE DAY TEN)
OR FAREWELL TO PAUL ‘THE LIAISON’ FOR I WILL MISS YOU, AND HELLO COLD BRAVE NEW WORLD.
Waking on the last morning brings new conflict. You have been institutionalised to a certain degree, and although of course, you want to leave, you still are full of fear and trepidation about being ‘out’.
Still the usual routine except for a vital change, it would result in freedom. Call front desk, wait for guard to escort me to the lift desk, report my room number and name go downstairs repeat at desk by lifts on ground floor, cry, be escorted to door, be shouted at by some newbies about ‘where’s your mask, where’s your mask?’ snap back ‘EXEMPT’ go past troops of Indian guards. This time however I was checking out, and took a brisk left turn rather than right, and went past the long forgotten front desk (long forgotten if indeed noticed as I had been shouting when I arrived, that I wanted the medics) and out to to liberty and for a bus, ironically, back to the airport and tube. I asked a guard for Paul, or his email address, and they all got antsy with me again. Why did I want it etc etc. They carry a lot of guilt as well they should do, being part of this incursion of our civil liberties, and are probably aware that one day they will be held accountable. Luckily though they went to him and he came out beaming at me even though he hadn’t managed to do anything about my medical and compassionate exemption.
He cheerily breezed over and we actually had a goodbye hug before him apologising for being absent for the last couple of days due to an ‘incident’.
Go on tell me I urged and he did. A seventy year old man had ‘breached security’ and jumped the fence onto the motorway two days before. The distraught old chap then tried to wave down a car with his walking stick in the middle of the morning traffic, unfortunately for him nobody stopped or the guards grabbed him before they could, I’m not sure which, and he was apprehended and taken back to our very own Guantanamo Bay. In the ensuing hours when the police came into the mix the old man broke the coppers wrist. What a pickle, Liaison Paul found this excellent juicy gossip for my goodbye chat. The man now has a £6,000 fine for the escape, a charge for GBH, and had to start his prison term over. Liaison Paul was breathless with the excitement of it all. I smiled uneasily and said that the man surely now should be monitored for mental health issues and he just said that no, he spent a couple of nights in jail and would be brought back to Horrible Inn to start over. Lovely caring UK. Liaison Paul had previously told me that another excuse for his absence the previous week was to go to other quarantine hotels on his watch where the guards had become “over zealous”
So all this was OK then? He was doing other stuff rather than get people who actually warrant it, exemption. Liaison Paul was doing other types of liaisons. Not doing the exemption thing that was clearly tedious.
I decided to get on an earlier bus, paying six quid rather than wait for the bus included in the package. I decided I didn’t want to go on that bus as I remembered it went round the houses (hotels) and could end up taking a ridiculously long time. Also Liaison Paul had a wild glint in his eye, best for me to get off sharpish.
The extraordinarily rude Indian woman driving the bus insulted each one of us four who decided six quid was a bargain to get the hell out of there. The people who waited for the Hell Bus organised by CTM are probably still there or at the very least still driving around the terminal hotels lost to the human race, being lied to and insulted by yet more Indian staff.
Our smart little bus went through a pretty village, (‘I don’t remember this from before’ we all muttered alarmed) and then pootled up to the Heathrow terminal dumping us unceremoniously at the bus station and near the tube. We were out and ran for it.
After this incarceration one becomes alarmed by nearly everything. It was about eight thirty by then and no worry of rush hour as it was a Saturday, but it was all very new to be at liberty amongst people who had just got back from a trip abroad and going straight home from the airport and not to a prison hotel. Also talking was occurring and this was an assault on my ears after ten days of solitude (eleven nights!) I wasn’t used to all this chit chat and frankly felt everything was a little loud.
Some welcome out texts from attentive friends helped a lot to pass the time then I dared gaze at how many more stops it was till Leicester Square. Just three more to count whilst clutching my suitcase handle in my sweaty paw.
Getting out from the long walk to the exit, along those tiled corridors and the very long escalator then finally a grope with the barriers then fresh air and freedom! Surreal fast walk through Chinatown and its early morning vendors, then into Soho and customers with their Friday night hangovers drinking expensive frothy coffees at tables outside, then suddenly in my lift and up to my front door and whooosh in. It was only nine thirty I’d made it back from the airport in record time. I was home but not. Happy but not. Exhausted but not.
I was witnessing the feeling of a new world order where nothing is safe, and nor will it ever be again.
Part two tomorrow.