Musings from 40,000 feet

A little out of sequence but I thought it’d gone when I found a bit of the treasured memory stick hanging from the mouth of our dog. Luckily he only ate the lid. Seemed to quite enjoy it to. Anyway.. flying to South Africa (“Welcome to the Basket Case of the Word“), I wrote this:

I am sat here, alone, cynically observing advanced states of catatonia in airline supplied romper suits. They are all pissed of course, downed by measures that would stun a hearty donkey. And shrouded under duvets of the purest white that put me in mind of a legion of dead, fat, middle aged corporate warriors

I’m sober through a combination of a waiting hire car, and the enduring memory of an incident many years ago involving multiple bottles of wine, and nearly being turned back at American customs. So my ears are full of engine roar displacement music, and I’m left with eight hours of nothing to do but sneer at a plethora of business class worthies – each thinking they are more important than each other.

They are clearly more important than me. The whole experience from collection in a posh car driven by an old man with values slightly right of Genghis Kahn, to being whisked through security by a pretty women who knew my name feels like it should be happening to someone else. I’m mentally back on the train to a factor of about five – this is not my world, these are not my people, I don’t belong here.

The Virgin “upper class wing” – their words, never mine – describes this feeling in spades. It’s clearly been designed to a brief of “funky” and so split between zones of fun, work, chill out, and emergency haircuts. I’m about as close to Amish in spaces like this as you can get. Wandering about, waiting to be thrown out until I find something that looks visibly close to a bar.

Grabbing a beer served by two happy barmen who talk about their customers – between serving cocktails to the type of people who cannot demean themselves by looking their lessers in the eye – so we swap stories of arseholes, and watch the death throes of English Rugby on the big screen. They love their jobs to be fair, it’s good money and better to be away from the general bottle throwing population out in the public areas.

Having found some kindred spirits, I extend my shoulder chip to the sit down bar found on the plane. When everyone else has passed out, the cabin crew tell me that – even at a third full – all the profit in at this end of the plane, and everyone downstream in the cheap seas are nothing more than organic baggage.

I risk a non committal smile as a defence mechanism in the same way I’ve failed to kick off about my drivers’ “they come over here taking our jobs” rant a few hours earlier. For which there are many reasons, the sort of reserve the English feel allows dictators to invade sovereign countries, a weary acceptance that I’m not clever enough to make people see another side to an argument, and the guilt that comes with me pushing the firm to pay for me to fly this way.

People lampoon Billy Connolly with the dichotomy of his castles and working class welding stories. I feel a bit like that. I’m desperately proud of being brought up in a small house with a proper coal cellar, but still secretly love the trappings of the business traveller.

Bloody hell, that’s such a craven admission I think I’ll risk a beer. It’s that or I’m going to start poking sleepy passengers with an accusing finger and a demand to know where they get off being such dickheads.

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