Michael McCafferty - European Biplane Tour

Down And Out, And Just Around The Corner

London, England

The morning does not come easily to me today. Despite the peace and quiet of the ultra-serene Savoy Hotel, there is a nuisance in my head that can only be punishment for the prior evening's excesses. There will be no flying today, of course. Although the sky is clear, the pilot is fogbound.

This is one of those circumstances where a superior hotel becomes worth more than the price of admission. Juice from the in-room mini-bar, workout, swim, massage, shower, breakfast in the room, and a nap in a freshly made bed, then a walk around Covent Garden... it's amazing the recuperative powers of the human body when the right resources are applied to the task!

Feeling better than new, I wandered into the "Upstairs", a tiny corner of the hotel serving as a casual bar/snacks/restaurant, and situated just one floor above the ground, with a great view overlooking the front entrance of this great hotel. From my table by the window, sipping cappuccino, I can look down, secure and anonymous, on the comings and goings of everyone. It's the perfect place to do some serious people-watching. And these words flow freely from my pen:

A gaggle of ladies in print summer dresses,
a school of executives on the trail of a deal,
a honeymoon couple, here, but not really,
an Indian princess, with forehead red-dotted,
North Carolinians who have saved for a year,
an old man and his pretty grand-daughter
(really? I doubt it!),
a Filipino family with squabbling kids,
Arabs and Texans, Orientals and Brits,
"Movers and Shakers" and wanna-be fakers.

Patrick the doorman greets them all smiling,
assisting them into and out of their Rolls-Royces,
Bentleys, Jaguars, and Mercedes-Benzes,
but mostly it's black London taxis that slip 'round the corner
where down on their luck and out on the street,
the other end of the spectrum of life in the city,
they arrange their flat cardboard pieces in doorways,
settling in for an evening of drinking and begging,
and eventual sleep.

Open air double-deck buses of tourists glide by and admire.
From every corner of the Kingdom, and places beyond,
they come for a stay in an island of fantasy.
Few can maintain it, for most it's just a taste
of what life could be like.

We need places like this to inspire and reward.


Tomorrow I'll go back to the south coast of England, to plan my next flight.

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