Most airports have them, local roads that pass behind one end or other of the main runways, I’ve yet to see an airport that doesn’t have a narrow local road that runs behind one end or the other of the main runway, except for Corfu airport of course for there is nothing at one end of the main runway there but sea, however there is a local road that runs behind the other end of the runway at Corfu airport and its so close to the end of the runway that they have police there to stop the traffic when a holiday jet takes off.
Anyway, Leeds Bradford Airport has a narrow local road at both ends of its main runway, one of which is called Cemetery Road being as there is a cemetery on it, which is just what you want to be looking at as the engines rev and you are wondering what you are doing strapped to a seat in a long metal tube that is shortly going to be 6 miles high and travelling faster than it was once thought possible to survive at.
So tonight my youngest daughter needs a lift to work, which is near the airport, but my car has the red warning light displaying the fact that its a bit empty on petrol at the moment, but thats ok because its only just come on this afternoon and you get loads of warning in most cars, don’t you ?
So I take her to work and on the way she points out the fact that the car has no petrol left in the tank and I say”oh thats ok, you get loads of warning in most cars” and I tell her that I’m going to the petrol station in Yeadon as soon as I drop her off, its only three miles away, no problem.
So I’ve dropped her off and I’m taking the shortcut that involves the narrow unlit road that goes around the back of the main runway…
…and the car runs out of petrol.
…and I’d left my phone in the house.
Its dark, the road is unlit, there are double yellow lines everywhere at the end of the runway, and there are signs every ten yards along the airport perimeter fence advising that if you park there you will be shot as a terrorist and then they’ll ask questions later.
The car won’t go without petrol, its stuck and its still two miles to the petrol station.
“What am I going to do now?” I shout to no-one in particular, there is no-one within miles of me at this point anyway, “Walk” says a voice in my head, “You pillock” it adds.
Its a real Homer Simpson “DOH!” moment, I manage to get the car onto the pavement by use of the starter motor and wonder if the battery will last long enough for me to drive two miles on the starter motor and hence become the worlds first Peugeot 307 electric car albeit with a very short range, but the voice inside my head just folds its arms across its chest, tuts under its breath and gives me one of those looks that Mr Summers the maths teacher used to give me after he’d asked what he considered to be an especially easy equation question that I couldn’t answer.
I get out and walk.
I decline the idea to switch the hazard warning lights on because the car is literally parked right underneath where aircraft are landing and I don’t want some pilot to be put off by my flashing orange lights in the last few seconds before his mega-ton aircraft gently touches down, the last thing I need is 240 passengers deaths on my conscience just because the black box reveals that the pilots last words were, “Hey, flashing orange lights at the perimeter fence, what does it say in the manual about flashing orange lights, do we go around again or what?”
Also its quite dark out here and the car is dark coloured too and I figure there’s no point in drawing attention to it on cctv, the police will have nothing better to do on a Sunday night than to have it towed away and I’m not walking a four mile round trip just to find its not there when I get back.
Twenty minutes later I’m buying a petrol can and one gallon of unleaded – ten quid, why not just give me a paper cut when I’m at the counter too eh ?
Forty minutes later I’m nearly back at the car and in a sublime moment I’m walking along the perimeter fence on the last 500 yards of the runway and thinking just how bloody dark it is here, really, the only light was from the moon, and then I hear the whine of a jet engine following me and suddenly I’m illuminated from behind and I can see my car in front and everything, thank god for the 18.45 Ryanair to wherever, although it did feel spookily like that Steve Martin scene from “Planes Trains and Automobiles” or the Steve McQueen 707 scene from “Bullitt”.
The moral of the story is, if you own a Peugeot 307 you get about 10 miles grace when the warning light comes on, and a story to write home about.
My tea was cold when I got back too.