We're home safely in the UK feeling like a pair of wrung out dosh cloths. The journey was about as hideous as I'd expected it would be. The plane was actually half empty, on account of it being Thanksgiving, so, as soon as the ground staff were told to leave the plane, passengers started heading for empty rows and seats with more leg room. The row in front of us (which had extra leg room) went from being completely empty to being full of a family with two children who screamed constantly. I probably wouldn't have minded had the stewards not made a big deal about stopping a young couple from sitting on the same seats, informing them that they'd need to "pay to upgrade." It seems it's one rule for a family, and another for everyone else. The young couple would have been considerably less noisy.
To make matters worse, the father of the family opted to recline his seat whilst I was still eating my food, which sent the tray flying into the aisle and made me hugely grumpy. I think there should be rules about when people can and can't recline their seats on a plane. It's incredibly rude to do it before the meals have been cleared away. I felt like I was sitting in a cardboard box.
I'm ashamed to say that I also spent much of the flight suffering from bouts of Islamaphobia, obsessing about a woman in a veil sitting near us, who was having a very animated telephone conversation with someone until the plane literally took off. She then spent the flight nervously fiddling with her mobile phone and I became utterly paranoid that she was going to detonate something. It sounds ludicrous in retrospect. I'm a terrible flyer, so was dealing with my own demons at the same time, but I'm horrified I became that person - as was Nathan. It just shows that, however liberal we like to think we are, when we're under duress, all sorts of crazy and irrational responses bubble to the surface. I almost went up to her to explain that she was freaking me out, hoping she'd give me a big hug to put my mind at ease, but I felt it would have gone down rather badly. I didn't sleep a wink.
We got back to Highgate in the late morning after that long old tube journey from Heathrow which everyone dreads when they touch down.
We had three hours' kip and forced ourselves to get up again so there was some hope of our getting sleep tonight.
For the last few days Nathan has been suffering from an eye problem. His right eye looks puffy and a bit bruised. In fact, over the last couple of days it's looked increasingly like I've been knocking him for six, but it turns out it's simply a nasty case of blepharitis.
He went to see the doctor who suggested he take himself to the A and E department of Moorfields Eye Hospital. The journey down there was pretty miserable. We got a flat tyre in Highgate village and I spent the entire trip on the phone to Amazon trying to ascertain whether there's been some fraudulent activity on my bank account via Amazon Luxemburg, whatever that is. It turns out neither Barclays nor Amazon are particularly able to/ interesting in help(ing) me in this respect. It's like pulling teeth.
Tina, who works at Moorfields, met us at the hospital and sat and chatted to Nathan whilst my ludicrous phone calls continued.
Nathan was dealt with by hospital staff incredibly speedily. I was very impressed.
When we emerged from the hospital, the skies opened and half a tonne of rain fell in about three minutes. It seemed to be falling horizontally somehow. Great big sheets of the stuff were just rolling down the street. We stood under a bus shelter but it was no protection. In the end we made a dash for it, just after Nathan realised he couldn't find his car keys. It turns lit that he'd left them on the front seat (with the car doors unlocked!) Old Street is SO not an area of town to leave an unlocked car in. Thank God it was still there when we returned. I think Nathan is probably more tired than I am!