Arriving in a strange city on the other side of the world with no hotel reservation and nowhere to stay is an interesting proposition. It’s not one I planned for. I thought I was being organised but I had not planned on a public sector strike on the 30th.

Heading out to Heathrow on the 30th hoping my flight wouldn’t be cancelled was not a proposition I was willing to accept. A night in an unknown city is far more reasonable.

News reports like to dwell on the worst possible scenario. A mass walk out. Immigration jamming up. Passengers sat on planes for hours on end waiting to be allowed to disembark. Aircraft jamming up the runways causing delays and cancellations to outbound flights. A delay I can cope with. Cancellation would really have really pissed me off. All the reports are centred on Heathrow but I know all airports will be affected. Heathrow is just a good target for the press as it’s the largest hub.

I was born in England, but my surname, is by all accounts, from French Huguenot stock. When Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685 it was open season on my people. My ancestors probably fled France at this point and headed to London to avoid persecution. I believe that is from this ancestry I’ve inherited my abhorrence for queuing. At the end of the day I’m just another immigrant. I’m not partial to tea either.

I needed a contingency plan. Heading down the docks to try and gain passage on a merchant ship heading that way isn’t an option. Whilst a romantic idea, the trip would take too long and talking my way on to a freighter may prove to be difficult. Then there’s the seasickness. I’m usually ok on boats but a mid-Atlantic swell in winter is something I’d rather avoid.

I had checked out Air Canada’s website to look for spaces on earlier flights. There were a few left and as I could not get through to their call centre on the Friday night I was praying there would be some left on the Saturday and that I could make the change.

Air Canada’s call centre is second to none. Within 10 minutes I had rescheduled my flights. Another problem solved.

When problems arise, situations get bad and there seems to be no hope I always think of General McAuliffe’s response to German commander when asked to surrender his forces at Carentan.

To the German Commander.


The American Commander.



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