In southwest Essex close to the border with London lies Chadwell Heath, it is halfway between the two towns of Romford and Ilford. To get to either, when I was a school leaver, there was the red double decker 86 bus, there were no bus lanes or cycle tracks as there was little traffic.
To catch it there would frequently be a queue of people waiting patiently. When the vehicle arrived, the conductor would stand on the platform to the rear and with his hands held high and a finger pointing, count the heads to fit in with the vacant seats. Those at the front of the line would board whilst the rest waited for the next one.
A long time after this period it was with some excitement to obtain tickets for a show. This was not an ordinary show; it was with Frank Sinatra, Sara Vaughan and the Count Basie Orchestra, these people were top of the music world at that time.
Old Blue Eyes was due to perform at the London Palladium for one night only, the tickets for the show were on sale and we went to London to obtain them.
For a moment I stood in astonishment as we were not the only people who wanted to see the performance. It seemed the rest of London did as well, as the queue for tickets went down the street and round a couple of blocks, we were to discover as we set off to find the end.
More and more people joined behind us as we slowly made our way following the queue. Finally, the end was in sight with the clock past the midday hour, we had arrived three hours previously just after nine a.m.
Behind us there was still a long line of people stretching back and disappearing around a corner an unknown number, surprisingly two mounted policemen arrived standing close by, with one of the horses snorting.
Suddenly, with about twenty people in front of us, the head of the column went up a few steps to a closed door. The door opened and a man stood there and started a head count with his finger, informing the rest of us that the theatre was full, and they could not accept anymore. We were about ten short of being allowed in.
Did we see the show? Yes. I made a few phone calls and managed to buy two tickets for standing room only, which turned out to be marvellous as they were very near the stage, and we were the only couple there. We could dance in the aisle to the music, except of course when Frank was singing. The strange thing was there were two empty seats on the end of a row obviously two people could not have turned up. We continued standing, it was more fun.
Cost! We had been prepared to pay nearly twenty pounds per ticket, the standing ones only cost two pounds each. Sometimes there is a silver lining to everything.
Now, as I write, the summer holiday mad house is coming to an end and in some ways, we are looking at what we experienced with the London Palladium, long queues of people and not enough seats, and the organisers reluctant to check on numbers.
At the airport when, if by design or accident, an airline over books the available seats, somebody is going to be disappointed, unlike the bus line waiting patiently there is no further transport. Also, unlike the bus queue those waiting have paid thousands of pounds to be standing there probably months before. Why should they be out of pocket? If the supplier cannot provide, why should the provider keep their money. There should be a desk at the checkout which promptly refunds the credit card where the money came from in the first place. With facilities banks have today it should not be difficult to arrange.
Why are there these constant delays by the airline industry? One reason could be growth. Over the last fifteen years or so the passenger numbers for people who want to fly have doubled from two billion to over four billion, a growth and success on the airlines part, however in my opinion a progress they have not coped with. For certain the airports haven’t doubled in size.
At any one time there are up to nine thousand planes criss-crossing the sky all spewing out fumes from their many engines, coating the air with particles of gasoline. Also, at sea large bulk container ships handling globally the demand for new goods, likewise cruise liners with up to five thousand passengers on board. All these vessels have massive engines to propel them as they tour the world adding to the fumes disgorged from the aircraft above.
Meanwhile, is the Mayor of London wasting his time in his determination to clean the air by lowering traffic levels, closing roads, and introducing severe penalties for driving out of date cars, also creating acres of cycle lanes to try and persuade people to cycle on their daily commute. He argues it is to reduce the pollution in the air but at £12.50 a pop, perhaps there is another reason.
It would appear the future, if people can be dragged from their mobiles, is pedal power with fit muscled people everywhere enjoying huge discounts when travelling, twenty percent off your ticket for a cabin on the cruise ship with pedals to help power the propellers, whilst on the lower deck rows of Vikings, they were expert at it some time ago, pulling in sequence on the oars poking through the side of the vessel.
At the bus stop people standing wearing cycle clips to get on a modified non engine bus propelled along by the passengers pedalling furiously. Take care.
Wwwfacebook.com/percy chattey winner of five awards for his writings.