Sitting in Concorde waiting on the tarmac for the magical moment of take off seemed to be an age. I had arrived on my own as this was a special present to me. I had checked that my video camcorder was ready with a fully charged battery and that I had the correct film in the camera. I had checked my bits and pieces several times and that the other batteries and films were all stored in my bag. This was December 1997 and I had never imagined I would be in this seat on a plane that was in its third decade of service. To look at Concorde it is difficult to imagine that it has been in service for so many years. It looked like it had just been built. Nothing must go wrong. This was to be a circular flight taking off from London's Heathrow Airport eventually going supersonic beyond the Scilly Isles west of Cornwall and around the Bay of Biscay. A non-landing supersonic flight. It turned out that the man sitting next to me had also been given a similar birthday gift to me. He had travelled from Suffolk and I had come up from Kent. We chatted about Concorde. It was easy to talk about something that was so common between us. We introduced ourselves.
"I am Mark," I offered and my fellow passenger told me that his name was Spencer.
After a moment in dawned on us both at the same moment the name combination: Mark and Spencer. Perhaps somebody had a real sense of humour when they allocated the seats all those weeks ago when they were independently booked, but it was an hilarious moment.
It seemed that Concorde roared with us too.
In July 2004 at Las Vegas, Nevada, I was sitting in the huge reception area of the Stardust Hotel enjoying a morning coffee when a fellow passenger sat down. We had been travelling on the same coach for over a week and this was the first chance we had to speak to each other. The holiday was a coach tour around California, Arizona and Nevada. A lot of travelling and a very informative Tour Manager meant there was a lot to take in and with lunchtime stops, overnight hotel stops, meals and resting there was little time for socialising. Sitting in Las Vegas many thousands of miles from the United Kingdom was a long way from home and Bernie and I talked about where we had come from. It quickly became obvious that he knew the area from which I had come. The conversation moved on to earlier years and Bernie had lived not many miles from me before he had moved to Suffolk. My mind flashed to Concorde and Spencer.
Bernie was a few years older than I and he knew the small town of Sandwich, about 15 miles from where I live. When he was a young schoolboy he had gone to school in Sandwich. So had I. And then we discovered that we had gone to the same school. Amazing. Here we were thousands of miles from home and travelling on the very same coach around western America and we had gone to the very same school in England maybe 40 years before. We knew all the same teachers, the same haunts and the little things that only Old Manwoodians could know.
We shared a great deal of history between us and, although we were not at the school at quite the same time, only a few years separated us.
© Louis Brothnias (2005)