Ten Minutes In Whicker’s World


Place: Kai Tak airport, Hong Kong, summer 1990.

Time: 10:30 at night.

We’re queuing to check in for the late planes home to the UK.

There are three flights that leave one after the other, just before midnight. Cathay Pacific to Gatwick, Cathay Pacific to Heathrow, and British Airways to Heathrow. I’m due on the Cathay to Heathrow, after a two week leathergoods buying trip in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China.

I’m in a good mood as all’s sorted and the second G+T is registering.

The Tannoy announces the British Airways flight is delayed for whatever reason. I’m just at the head of the queue as a very smart be-blazered Alan Whicker steps in front of me with a suave smile… “Excuse me, if I just pop ahead here”.

At the desk he speaks to the very young check-in attendant. “I need to change my ticket to this flight”.

“Well sir, might I suggest you go to the Cathay Ticket desk”.

“That’s miles away, do you know who I am? Call your head of station immediately!”

Needless to say, an older member of the Cathay ground crew did recognise the legendary traveller, and some minutes later his every wish was being attended too.

With another smile he wished me safe journey, and went on his first class way.

I wonder what Whicker’s Heaven is like…