This blog picks up from us about to take a flight from Southend Airport to Gran Canaria.
We walk up the stairs of the aircraft. The lady in front is dolled up. Toes all done peeping nicely through sandals, a simple expensive bag on her arm and a husband carrying her bag. Her hair blowing gently, elegantly in the slight breeze, her neatly ironed linen trousers slightly blowing in a romantic way. Sunglasses on her head ready to come down on landing or crashing into the sea.
Me, I’m carrying both cases as Tony has MS. So I am sweating, puffing and chewing on my own hair in the breeze. And my sunglasses are slung in my bag with a hole in them as Winston (dog) ate them one Sunday when I had a nap. I’m also stretching the concept of my ‘one size’ fits all shorts. Got no chance of getting anything in the pockets, I thought they were sown up and was disappointed to find they weren’t.
Lugging the cases up the plane steps. I complain, ‘Jeez what the heck have you got in your bag honey, it’s so much heavier than mine’? ‘Er everything we need’. I know he is right so I keep quiet with my tightly clamped pockets.
On the final steps, Tony hands me my packet of ‘anti mental flyer pills’ that the Doctor prescribed. We enter the plane and I immediately view it suspiciously for quality of cabin crew and leadership. Not because I am so into my job in HR (though I am) but because I know working in HR there’s a hell of a lot of under performers who need to be performance managed and never are, and I eye each steward suspiciously looking to see if there are any signs of this on the flight.
We get to our seats. There’s a lady sitting in the aisle seat so she has to get out to let us in. Yer, she’s not happy about that! I apologise and she smiles but at the floor in a way that says, I am being polite but you are really pissing me off. I know because I’ve done it. it was the look I gave the premature pee’er on the train when storm Doris hit. Every second delay in getting my stuff for the flight, I fear she will add time on letting me get to the exits in the event of an emergency. I’m already thinking she’s a cow. But I have to say ‘bless you’ when she sneezes as I need her on my side. In the event of an emergency, I will be clinging to her or Tony’s leg like a koala in a tree repeatedly saying, ‘save me, save me’.
Sitting with my head in my hands about to take off, I say, ‘why does everyone have to keep talking. They should just be quite’. ‘Because normal people are excited about going on holiday’. ‘Well I just don’t get that. We should not be in the air. We are not birds. It’s that simple’.
The captain speaks and immediately I am listening out to see how alert and capable he sounds. I am satisfied. Though I’d rather he didn’t focus on telling us about the on-board paninis and just stuck to doing pre-flight checks. I don’t want him to tell me about the hot focaccia capresse (whatever that is). He is about to take up this aircraft with god knows how many people on board. I don’t think he should be concerning himself with bread based snacks.
There’s an announcement about turning your technology to flight mode, but I don’t think enough focus is played on this. I vocalise this. None to quietly hoping to prompt my fellow travellers to check their tech.
They play the usual announcements which include a mention that there are flotation aids on board for children. I ask, ‘why do only the kids get flotation aids because if we crash we all want to float’. It’s met with a ‘shhhhsss’ from Tony very aware of the parents and the small kids behind.
They tell us to fasten our seat belts (no shit) and to keep them buckled in case we ‘hit unexpected turbulence’. I think they should change the language from ‘hit’ to in case we ‘meet’ unexpected turbulence and why is it unexpected I ask myself? It is 2017. We should know this shit. Siri can tell me the likely % of precipitation and if I need an umbrella today for goodness sake.
I ask Tony, ‘can I have your coat please to put my feet on’. ‘Er, why’? ‘I don’t like to feel the vibrations under me and it dumbs the vibrations making it feel more like I am in a car’. ‘Well why’d you want to sit next to the wings there’s more vibrations’? ‘Because I like to look out and see they’re still there. If they are that’s a good thing and I wanted to be near the emergency exits in the row in front (normally I count the rows from my seat to the emergency exit because in the event the cabin fills with smoke, I want an advantage over other passengers as I head efficiently to the exits, trampling across them including parents blowing up flotation devices for their kids).
With my head in my hands, Tony starts to annoy me. Not because his legs look skinnier on the seat than mine, though I do note that, but because he’s munching Pringles. The distraction takes me momentarily away from my own safety and makes me very annoyed. I hope he’s not going to do that all the way, I think to myself. I need to concentrate.
I tell Tony, ‘just so you know I will be telling you to f off during the flight if you speak too much. It’s not fair but I need to concentrate on staying alive and I won’t be helping you off the plane in the event of an emergency, MS or no MS. I’m sorry, that’s just the way it is’. ‘Jeez you already look like you’re in the brace position’.
The air steward asks the passengers in front near the emergency exits if they could read the notices on their seats about how to open them. I don’t care how nice her nails look and how big her smile is, I don’t think, ‘read that’ constitutes an adequate safety briefing. I am beginning to regret taking the tablets the doctor prescribed, on the plane steps. They take an hour to kick in. Shit, I wish I’d had more of that free vodka from fancy neckerchief lady.
The captain comes on saying he ‘hopes’ we have a relaxing and safe flight. See this is where it’s a paradox for me. I want to know they are taking safety seriously and all the passengers on board are too. But when they say ‘safe flight’, it implies safety is a concern and we could be potentially anything other than safe and we just have to ‘hope’ were safe.
We take off, immediately I think about my life and what I have and haven’t achieved and how I probably have only a few hours to live. I have been known to text my family at this point and say, ‘you guys know I love you right’. I focus on a pet’s face, today it is Mr Nut (cat), to relax. Shit, if I die what will happen to him. Shit now I’m not relaxed. I’m now worried about flying and the future of my pets.
Slight turbulence. I jump. My hands do this weird thing like they are breaking into an uncontrolled Mexican wave. ‘Jeez it’s like sitting next to someone with MS. Sit on your bloody hands if you’re going to do that’. I should have taken his advice because the next petrified spasm sends my drink all over Tony’s legs. ‘Er, great, I’m soaked’. Ridiculously I say, ‘no, it’s just a shadow on your leg isn’t it’?
Look at Canvey Island honey, it’s like the French Riviera. ‘Er, don’t ask me to look out the window. In fact, can you shut the window blind’. ‘So you want to see the wing but you don’t want to see the wing’. ‘I’ll tell you when I want to see the frigging wing and it’s not now’. I get a token ‘you’re doing well honey’, before Tony puts his head phones in. Me, I pull out my Dalai Lama, The Art of Happiness book. I take it on every flight as I want to die happy.
The woman next to us is miserable throughout the entire flight. I lean in to Tony and say, ‘she even looks bloody miserable in her sleep’. Eventually she wakes up and starts watching a film on her Ipad. Tony says, ‘I need a wee’. ‘What you telling me for, tell her’. She must pick up on the vibe because she unclicks and goes to the toilet. ‘Quick, let’s go for it’. To help Tony get out with his balance, I pick up her Ipad. ‘Shit, shit, shit’, I say as during the action I hit the play button and it moves on from where it was. In a very high pitched voice Tony’s telling me to stop it. After about 4 seconds of it playing I do. We get out into the isle and Tony’s dragged his bad leg out with her handbag hooped over his foot. We piss ourselves.
When we all take our seats again I ask Tony ‘do you think she will notice about her film’? ‘Of course she bloody will, it’s starting at a different point’! Then we laugh about all the important film changing words that could have been spoken in that 4 seconds, ‘I love you’, ‘his dead’, ‘I’m pregnant’, ‘I’m leaving you’. Tony tells me, ‘if she has a go at you, you can argue with her in Spanish with the string of B words you spent 6 weeks learning when we were in Mexico. Never get why you started with B’. ‘Yer bitch might be good to know but I can now only remember butter…and I started at B because it felt less far away from Z and motivated me.
Finally the pills and Prosecco kick in. It didn’t dumb down the words from the pilot with less than an hour to go, ‘we are flying at 39000 feet mid-way across the waters on the coast of Morocco’. Unnecessary! I do not need to know how high I am or that I am crossing open seas.
We’re about to land. ‘How long do you think it will be before people take their seatbelts off after we land’, Tony says. This is how it actually went down, ‘we have now landed at Gran Canaria, please wait for the plane to finish taxying before’…click. Then isle seaters immediately spill into the isle to frantically grab their stuff. The middle seaters move into the freed space and turn into Mr Ticle, just putting their arms out into the isles and grabbing their stuff. The window seaters do a half stand, half crouch awkwardly waiting to grab their stuff at the first opportunity. Tony and I stay seated and pride ourselves on being the last to leave the plane.
I made it! I’m alive. We’re in Gran Canaria!