Normally I have to admit, I actually enjoy the whole traveling experience, nine times out of ten it is un-eventful and easy(ish). However, just now and again the God’s conspire to make the whole thing a real challenge where your very humanity , patience, and temper, are tested to the full. Sadly for me yesterday was one of those rare days, it started off fine a nice relaxed drive from Clent Towers to the joy that is Luton Airport. Older readers might just recall a series of 1970’s TV adverts for Campari featuring the very glamorous Lorraine Chase who when she was asked by a then very young Nigel Havers ” Were you really wafted here from Paradise?” to which came the immortal reply ” No, Luton Airport.”
Looking back maybe I should have sunk a bucket of Campari myself before embarking on this particular flight, however as always I stuck to my golden rule of never drinking alcohol when flying although on reflection, it might have been more bare-able. Mistake number one was deciding not to book straight into the Executive lounge, it was a boiling hot Thursday afternoon and the world and his wife were out in force. Added bonus was the ongoing development of the airport concourse, so large swathes were out of bounds so forcing the human tide into smaller, narrow channels. I decided not to waste one of my exec trips as I only had an hour to wait before we boarded, so I nabbed a chair in one of the corridors and replied to emails.
The first alarm bell was rung when a note appeared on the display screen saying estimated time of departure 1500, which did not bode well for a 1430 flight, however I waited and then when the gate was called (number 26), I was off like a young Gazelle in Spring time, and was one of the first to arrive at the gate and second in line at the priority boarding gate, where naturally an air of superiority is expected simply because you pay £6.00 to stand in a smaller queue and get a better chance to stow your hand luggage in the ever smaller overhead compartments.
Soon, we were mobile and lead out as one crocodile into the airport tarmac, the sun was beating down and as I waited I thought well this is nice, what a lovely day to spend a minute or two in the sun. But this soon proved to be a big mistake, for two reasons, firstly we had to stand there for forty minutes it was so hot that the ground crew fuellers and shunters etc, took to lying in the baggage lorries for shade and a well deserved kip. Second mistake was the young family who pushed their way to the front of the priority queue, the girl was about 5 and sweet and well behaved, the boy was about 3 and clearly spawned from the devil himself . I think the liberal enlightened types call a kid like this strong willed, this does not do him justice, he was a little xxxx of the highest order. When finally grabbed by weak ineffectual dad type for repeatedly attempting to run across the road to board the plane himself which was stood motionless with air crew bobbing around doing nothing helpful. The little horror screamed repeatedly refusing to stop, it was not just a cry, it was a noise that ripped into your lobes and into your very soul.
But this was merely the start, after 45 minutes we boarded I put my bag away and took my seat in 7F with a window seat, I was knackered and looking forward to a long restful sleep. The plane was packed to the rafters and it included a fair number of Liverpool football fans making their way to Kiev for the Champions League cup final, a fair few of whom had taken full advantage of Mr Weatherspoon’s discounted lager and were well bladdered and in fine voice, so it was an eclectic mix. In addition the pilot did not turn the air conditioning on so everyone was hot, irritable, and well naffed off as we were now 1 hour 20 minutes late with a single word from anyone at Whizz air about why.
As I started to drift off I was rudely interrupted by the crying kid, who I realised to my horror was sat two seats behind me. the din was terrible and it was relentless, that kid cried for the two hours twenty minutes the plane was in the air. I have never witnessed so many fed up, angry passengers, even with my headphones on it made little difference, complaints to the parents, and air crew had no impact. Nothing stopped this kid, to be fair I was amazed that he was not smothered by someone, even I was getting fed up and I never say a word about anything to anyone about anything, being the Englishman that I am, but the Poles did not hold back, with words of abuse flying around to the hapless parents who happily returned abusive service back.
Even the middle aged bevied up Scousers started to express their concerns although most of them spent ages standing in a queue to use the toilet indeed one bloke at the back of a long line had to wait 40 minutes before he got to have a go. It was one of those journeys that seemed to last forever, time stood still as the air was pierced by the shrill Banshee protests from the child from hell, punctuated now and again from Liverpudlian banter as the lads hurled abuse and banter in equal measure as the on flight catering delivered beer and spirits to keep them topped up. The thought even occurred to me that maybe I could get the kid a double whiskey and see if I might get him to nod off care of good old Johnny Walker.
When finally we landed we had to get the bus, and guess who clambered on next to me, still shouting his head off, all the way into the border check area where I watched where he went and made darned sure that I went in the opposite direction. Anything to ensure that I did not have to put up with the unGodly din those tiny lungs were generating. Looking back his parents should buy him a trumpet as he could certainly hold a long note with that capability. Still as ever lessons learned Mr Birks, number one always carry ear muffs, ensure that a child’s dummy is kept on one’s person to give it to the parents, and finally pack a tranquilliser gun even if you have to use it upon yourself, money very well spent I say.