[Image: Heathrow Terminal 5, via Wikipedia].
Back in San Francisco, after a 12-hour delay at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 in London. We sat on the first plane – there were three planes – for five hours before they realized that they couldn’t start one of the engines; so we all filed back into the terminal while our luggage was loaded onto a second plane – which was then hit by a truck. A third airplane was thus conjured up out of the drizzling darkness of an otherwise abandoned international airport at midnight – I was reminded almost constantly of Iain Sinclair’s description of Heathrow as “a Vatican of the western suburbs,” a system of piazzas dedicated to geometric worship of the sky – and it rolled over to the gate to collect our bags, the lights in the cockpit still off. It was nearing 1am by then, we’d been given bags of sea-salted potato chips, and bad pop songs were playing on continuous loops through steel security grills pulled down in front of airport music shops. One or two obviously bored employees were performing day-end inventories on refrigerators full of Ribena at Boots, the guitarists for a band apparently based here in San Francisco were throwing an American football around with a kid called Nicholas, and if you stood at the edge of the glass-walled lightwells that cut all the way down to the ground in Richard Rogers‘s new terminal design you could watch under-oiled escalators squawking their way, from one side to the other, up the nearly five stories to arrive where we were all then sitting, filling out customer complaint forms.
So thanks, British Air, for that odd glimpse of anthropology amidst well-engineered 21st-century architecture after everyone else had gone home – although I would’ve preferred to arrive twelve hours earlier, on time – and thanks, as well, to everyone who came out to see the variety of BLDGBLOG events last week in London.
The other surprise worth mentioning is that, having landed at the misty, pre-BART hour of 4am, we had to take a taxi home – and as we drove up Fell Street our driver pointed out that gas prices have plunged to a somewhat unbelievable $1.79 a gallon.