Monday, 22 November 2010

Mr Grumpy catches a 'plane

I like to think that I have the looks of George Clooney;the sophistication of David Niven;the wit of Noel Coward and the beside manner of Dr McDreamy.
But as I stood in an economy-class toilet at 02h00,somewhere over Africa,dressed in an old tracksuit with a yellowing 'Rolling Stones' T-shirt,and staring at my aged and pale and wrinkled face in the brightly lit mirror,as I was checking to make sure that I had squeezed all the blackheads in my nose,I realised that I probably wasn't going to join the mile high club that particular night.

The day had not started well.

This trip back to Joburg was not a planned trip....but a response to a family illness...and so I was slightly stressed.

I had arranged to get a lift to Heathrow from Studley McMuffin.We had discussed it several times...including the day before when I had confirmed that I needed to be picked up at 2 o'clock to get to Heathrow by about 3.30;for a 7.30 flight.

(I am one of those people who like to get everywhere early....just in case....its my OCD...I've just learnt to live with it)

Imagine my surprise therefore when the phone rang at 2 o'clock in the morning...when I was very very fast find that Studley was on his way to fetch me!

So much for that cunning plan.

I got to LHR and checked in and went straight to the lounge.

Although I was flying Cattle Class I have a Priority Pass card which gets me access to hundreds of lounges all over the world.One are stunning,like those at Joburg international...some are awful like the one in terminal 3 at LHR....but at least the wine is cold and free and plentiful...and there are no screaming children.

And I was feeling emotional.
The last time I flew to Joburg was with Sian...oh happy day.
And we flew Upper Class on Virgin which was tremendous.

This time I was travelling alone and in Cattle Class.
A metaphor for my life without her it must be said.

The flight was due to board at 18h15 for a departure at 1930.
At 1815 it was showing as "Wait in Lounge"....needlesstosay...and its all down to the OCD-I just HAVE to be the first passenger to get onto the plane....I left the lounge and started to prowl around the Terminal.

Eventually at 19h30 there was an announcement that we should go to the gate...where I found that the plane drivers and waitrons were all sitting happily on their arses waiting for the plane...just like the passengers...difference is that they are being paid by me and the other passengers for the privilege of sitting down.
We were told at about 20h00 that the tug bringing the plane to the gate had broken down and that there was a problem getting a replacement tug...Ja..right....the worlds supposedly busiest airport doesn't have enough tugs!!
This was the fourth Virgin flight in a row to Joburg that I have taken which has been delayed .

Eventually we boarded at 20h30 and departed at 21h30...the plane was about only about 20 % full and so I got 4 seats in a row.WooHoo!!

The cabin crew announced that there would be no pre-dinner drink service due to the late departure but that a post drinks round would be wasn't made of course.

And so I found my self awake and thirsty and peckish at 02h00 and decided to squeeze my blackheads...well....there were no good movies....I had been watching something called "The kids are alight" which was supposed to be about 2 lesbians...and it may have been...but it wasn't the sort of lesbian movie that a guy wants to watch.

I wandered down to the galley to get a drink and some fruit to find a sleepy waitron sitting all alone...she was only able to offer me some tepid orange juice.

Hummh....I thought....I bet all the staff are goofing off...
...and so I wandered even further down the plane to Upper Class and just sat myself down at the bar and helped my self to a few light libations and several packets of peanuts and biscuits.
At one point the Chief Waitron walked past but I just gave him a cheery wave.

The peanuts stood me in good stead as the 'full English breakfast' turned out to be a tablespoon of scrambled eggs;a rasher of bacon;and,- bizarrely-,a whole heap of bitter spinach.

And then we got to Joburg.
Where it was cold and raining...
...oh happy day!!

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