Monday, June 4, 2012

My Charioteer of Fire

I’m here. Berlin. I’m back in my beloved flat at 32 Nollendorfstrasse, and about to launch – albeit a slightly wobbly rocket – into the joys of being in this friendful city.

Mind you, getting here was a bit of a cavalcade.

Air Berlin runs one flight a week to and from Jersey. Unfortunately on a Saturday. And more unfortunately, in spite of the name of the airline, not a direct flight. These days, you have to change planes at Düsseldorf. Anna, my travel agent in Rangiora booked my flight, and ‘assistance’ for the transfer .. ie wheels of some sort .. months ago. And since then, the airline had changed the destination, and then changed it back! But I duly flew out of Jersey, only about 25 minutes late, on the day nominated…

We arrived at Düsseldorf, and I and the other wheelchair passenger duly waited till last to descend. ‘It’s only 6.05’, I thought,’ and my plane doesn’t leave till 7.35 … and, er, is this wheelchair for me?’ Well, it wasn’t. I wasn’t listed! But my fellow passenger was severely handicapped, and they’d sent two men to help her. So we took a pusher apiece. Off we sedately set, and I surrendered my boarding card to the nice attendant. He gulped.

I had forgotten about the time zone change between Jersey and Germany. ‘It’s 7.10’, he exclaimed, ‘and the flight will be closed!’ Out came his walkie-talkie, and up went our speed! We zoomed through kilometres of empty passages, up elevators, backwards through a one-way gate. I was frisked in the chair, my cane and bag and the camera taken from my belt were whisked through the Xray, as on we rushed, until at 7.25pm we landed at the airplane door. Still open. I shoved the contents of my wallet – Jersey pounds! – into my saviour’s hand, was hoisted from my chair … and my pants fell down! When they took the camera, they hadn’t rebuckled me aright …

But I had made it. As on the first leg, the airline had kindly given me a seat with no-one beside me, so the rest of the trip was accomplished without incident, until I was delivered safely to dear about-to-be-departed Tegel, and the arms of my friend, Kevin.

I’m told Stravinsky used to take a wheelchair at airports. Well, he had the right idea. I would not only not have made it in time, I would never have been able to walk it! In fact, even in possession of my full locomtor-y powers it would have been tough.

I wish I had asked my trundler friend’s name. All I can say is, three cheers for the assistance at Düsseldorf airport … and a touch less for Air Berlin’s arrangements. When I return to Jersey, I will have a stopover in Düsseldorf!

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