Inspired by the 2004 Tom Hanks film The Terminal, a homeless army veteran looking for a place to sleep recently decided to move into Heathrow Airport. He originally planned on staying for a couple of nights, but he’s been living there for almost a month.
A former member of the Parachute Regiment who served in Northern Ireland before working in private security, Simon Jones – fake name to protect his identity – fell on hard times after his business collapsed and his romantic relationship ended. Penniless and with no place to sleep, he remembered watching The Terminal, in which the main character is forced to live in an airport after war breaks out in his country leaving him stateless, and decided to crash at Heathrow Airport – the busiest in Europe – for a couple of nights.
“I suddenly lost everything when my business, which provided high-risk assignments and the training of personnel, collapsed. The business put an enormous strain on my relationship and we separated. I was suddenly homeless and, because all the bank accounts were in joint names, penniless,” Jones told English newspaper The Sunday Express. “I was mulling over what to do. I don’t want to be a burden on anybody, so felt I couldn’t stay on friends’ floors for more than a night or two, especially since I can’t pay my way. Then I remembered the Tom Hanks film about the bloke living at an airport. I realized there would be washing facilities and even free wi-fi.”
Tom Hanks in The ‘Terminal’
He originally planned on living in the airport for a few days, but after seeing that nobody was bothered by his constant presence, he decided to stay until he finds something better. He has now been sleeping there for over three weeks, sleeping on the benches of a café, feeding on the leftovers of passengers, washing himself in the toilets and using the free wi-fi to look for job opportunities. Jones claims he hasn’t spent any money since moving into the airport because he “literally” doesn’t have a penny to spend.
A distinguished soldier who served in Angola, Iraq, Nigeria, Sudan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Israel ensuring the security of the Saudi royal family, high-profile US diplomats and senior British politicians including David Cameron, Simon Jones told reporters that he is seriously worried about the security of his new home.
Photo: Citizen 59
“I didn’t come here to criticize Heathrow Airport’s security but with my background in counter-terror work I couldn’t help observe things that really worried me,” he said. “Over a period of one week, there were only two patrols by armed response officers in departures at Terminal 2, each with two officers. They walk very close together, which would make it very easy for any determined terrorist to take them out quickly.
He added that he saw no police presence in departures between 6pm and 8am. “It would be the easiest thing for a group of three or four suicide terrorists to cause mass casualties in departures between that time. There’s no one to stop them.”
Photo: Kenneth Iwelumo
Regarding the unlikely airport tenant, a spokesman for Heathrow Airport said: “It is very sad when people fall on hard times and they occasionally come to the airport specifically because it is a warm and safe place. Heathrow employs a team of social workers to give assistance to those who need it.”
Source: The Sunday Express