I loved the airport with its smell of aviation fuel and dust plus curry wafting from the fire-station where the firemen would cook their meals in between flights, infrequent in those days.
I loved to watch my dad talking to invisible aeroplanes in that curious tone and techno-speak which radio operators adopt the world over. He would make notes about each ‘plane and its movements on strips of card and occasionally move to the control tower window, binoculars in hand, to scan the sky for inbound flights and conflicting traffic.
Sometimes Sheik Rashid or one of his family or ministers of state would use the airport. At those times, Dad would leave the control tower in the charge of an assistant to make sure that he was on hand in the arrivals or departures area or on the tarmac to ensure the safe and trouble-free passage for important passengers. I remember once, John Profumo visited, with much ceremony - he was still a Conservative MP then, before the story broke about his affair with the call-girl, Christine Keeler.
Often the air traffic would be a two-seater fixed wing private aircraft or a small cargo plane carrying spices or gold from India. I used to watch the Arab coolies unloading the gold - sometimes they used to let me “help”. I couldn’t even lift one ingot and I certainly couldn’t master the strange pose the coolies adopted when carrying the gold blocks - bent backs, bent knees, hands bearing the weight of two or three ingots hanging just a few inches above the ground and a strange shuffling movement of the feet. They were very kind though and didn’t seem to mind me getting under their feet.
From Travellers' Tales