I'm sat here in 28E, crammed in like a sardine. I've tried to sleep but can't. Even James Blunt on my iPod has failed to make the sandman come. I've been reading Frank Skinner's book, but I can't get into it. I like a knob joke as much as the next man but the book hasn't got the warmth of his autobiography, which was one of the best books I have read in years. And seeing as I don't like watching so-called in flight entertainment I am spending my time being transfixed by the screen at the front which charts our progress. We don't seem to be getting far. Still two and a half long hours to go. I think I shall spend the next few minutes making a voodoo curse on the man in front of me who insists on reclining his seat with the avowed purpose of crushing my legs. In a vain attempt to allow my left leg a little room, I edge it out into the aisle... only for it to be crushed by the food trolley.
The stewardess seems affronted that I decline the no doubt delicious meal she is offering to me. Like I care. She shouldn't have tried to crush my leg. She makes me feel guilty by asking the man in front to put his seat upright. Once she's out of sight he reclines again. Tosser. I now debate whether I should tap him on the shoulder and a) ask him politely to put his seat up as it is goimg to give me a blood clot or b) treat him to one of my special withering looks. Of course I do nothing. I'm British innit?
At the moment I'd happily storm the cockpit and ask the pilot to let me get off in Dubrovnik. Update: 1238 miles to go.
The fact that as I am typing this when I should be at Upton Park watching Craig Bellamy score a hattrick against Arsenal hardly improves my mood. When I planned this trip the match was being played yesterday. However, while I was at the airport someone left a comment on my West Ham blog from Israel to say he'd tell me a bar where I can watch the Hammers play Man U on Wednesday evening. I gently enquired with the lovely Nathalie, my CFI travelling companion, what our itinerary had in store for us and she thought Wednesday evening would be free. Result! I suspect it might also have something to do with the fact that her boss, Stuart Polak, will be keen to see his beloved Liverpool at the same time ... and presumably in a different bar.
I suppose we should be grateful we are even on the plane. El Al were kind enough to let us use their lounge at Terminal 1 (excellent smoked salmon bagels, by the way). We kept asking them if they would call our flight. Yes, they said. Don't worry. But they never did. By the time we went to the gate the flight was closing. That happened to me once before, in the USA and I did miss my flight and had to wait a day for another one - in Bangor, Maine. Don't ever do that. Bangor makes Tunbridge Wells look like a metropolis.
Update: 1112 miles to go. Just flying over Tirana. I always wanted to go to Albania when Enver Hoxha (sp?) ruled the roost. Never made it though, apart from a holiday in Corfu in 1985 when we looked at the Albanian coastline a few miles away and wondered about storming it. We decided against.
20 MINS LATER: Just as we sat in our seats, Nathalie asked if I had ever flown with El Al before. No, I replied. It's, er, different, she said. Wondering what she could mean, I tentatively asked how. It's quite noisy, she said. I now know she means. I have never been on a plane where as many people seem to delight in getting up and wandering around. Half of them seem to delight in bashing against my left shoulder as they do so. Charming.
Oh. My. God. The woman on the other side of the aisle is standing up and doing some sort of exercise routine. And at her age. Hmmm. Back to the knob jokes for a few minutes, I think.
60 MINUTES LATER (over the Sea of Crete): Personally, I have never had the pleasure of joining the mile high club. Indeed, I have never quite understood how two people can emerge from a plane loo unnoticed. But on this El Al plane there are four loos in a sort of two by two area in the middle of the plane (a 747-400) so anything would be possible. Mind you, looking round me, I doubt there will be much illicit activity on this particular flight. And being a married man now... Talking of scoring, my mind turns back to Craig Bellamy. I just know he scored today. Please let it be so. Assuming my Blackbury works in Israel I should find out in less than an hour. The excitement mounts...
By the way, thank you to Richard, who emailed me suggesting a visit in the Golan Heights to a cafe called Coffee Annan - get it? Kofi Annan! Honestly, this hebrew humour is side splitting isn't it? 340 miles to go.
TEN MINUTES TO LANDING: Reading this back I wonder whether to post it or not but I know I will. I suspect it will be some time before the call comes from the Sunday Times to be a travel writer...