I was one of hundreds of anonymous passengers stranded at Edinburgh airport, many of whom were returning home from ski-ing holidays. For entertainment the airline put on an evening display of ‘danses populaires’. JG took my arm and led me to the dance floor, keen to join in.
When night came we all bedded down on the hard airport floor. My spot was between JG and a BBC reporter covering the event. I had some trouble sleeping, partly due to the din of the low-flying fighter jets that passed at high speed overhead. It was also rather inconvenient that the airport redecoration programme sprung to life at night-time with painters and decorators milling around the building. I eventually settled myself by reading a book of lists.
Our sleep was interrupted by the arrival of JK. As proud of my achievements as any father, his voiced boomed across the hall of sleeping bodies as he called my name. Now that everyone knew that I was in their midst, they all wanted a part of me.
Not everyone, however, was pleased to have been dragged from their slumber in such a manner. CM and his wife were particularly annoyed. The latter jumped up from her bed on the floor, shouted loudly that she would now not be able to get back to sleep, and declared that she would go sliding on the airport ice instead. As she stepped onto the slippery tarmac JK shouted a hopeless warning ‘Don’t play there. There’s a bus coming!’ It was too late: CM’s wife was crushed under the wheels of the bus.
This was a terrible shock to us all, but especially to those who knew the M family. I felt particularly bad because CM’s wife would not have even woken up had JK not entered the hall and called out my name. JM recognised my distress and suggested that we get a drink.
We ended up in a Stockbridge pub with many others who had also been stranded at the airport and witnessed the horrific tragedy. There I hunted for someone else who knew the M family. I eventually came across NS in the queue at the bar. He told me that he wasn’t certain that CM’s wife had died, and that we should not give up hope. I found his optimism somewhat unfounded.
Meanwhile JM decided that this pub was too full for his liking, so he led me and his friends to the bus stop at the other side of the bridge on Hamilton Place to wait for the night service into town. Given that this would stop very close to my flat, I decided to return to the airport to collect my house keys. Then I could head straight home after our visit to the next bar.