Sunday, October 26, 2008

Killing Time

I'm writing this somewhere over the Croatian coast, essentially because I have nothing better to do. I had forgotten how much I hate flying. There's always that sense of excited anticipation but the reality is usually a disappointment. A bit like a one night stand. I have a long memory...

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...

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Can't you just tell how Iain is hoping to become a fixture on the next series of 'Grumpy Old Men'...

He is even grumpier than Matthew Parris, though I doubt he could scale the heights of Arthur Smith...

I have also realised who will be called upon to play Iain Dale in the 'Hollywood Movie' of his life...



Steve Martin "!!"

He will hate the 'artistic licence' they will use to make out he comes from Boise, Idaho instead of being an Essex boy, but, hey, "gotta think of the American market.."

p.s. and there was me thinking that as this was a 'freebie' he wouldn't dare be too critical or 'bite the hand that feeds him..'
How wrong can you be..

Anonymous said...

Hammers lost 0-2!

tbf katic said...

strangely very interesting!

trevorsden said...

Blackberry

Progress - don't you love it.

Its only when you're forced to interact with the general public that you hanker after the joys of a luxury yacht.

Anonymous said...

Tip re the reclining oaf in front: see whether you can't direct the downdraft from the cooled air nozzle over your seat onto his forehead.

Anonymous said...

That Faubert's a good player Iain. He scored for you today.

graybo said...

Good Lord! Proper "old school" blogging - a real stream of consciousness. This is how we did it when you were all kids.

Next week: Iain Dale on kittens.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

Don't ever fly with LOT, Iain. :o)

Simon Harley said...

Go with "The Sunday Times Magazine"; I think you ought to replace A.A. Gill and go travelling with Jeremy Clarkson - imagine the possibilities!

norman said...

The planes are cattle trucks on the sky. I don't envy you having to put up with the kind of Newtonian forces
unleashed at you by fellow passengers. Atleast it is not 13,000 miles to Singapore.

Gazza said...

For good book laughs, thanks for the Frank Skinner autobiography recommendation. Here's mine in thanks - Clive James' first autobiography, Unreliable Memoirs. I know it was published many years ago but even after its 20th reading, his story-telling and comic timing is still brilliant. All the best for your trip.

cogly said...

Blogs ? See P 40 of the current edition of Viz Comic.
Thats all you need to know about the intellectual legitimacy of blogs.

Johnny Norfolk said...

I know how you feel.For about 6 months I used to commute weekly from London City to Frankfurt. I hated it. Now I never fly or go by any kind of public transport. The only exception is first class on the train and only when I have to.

Some people pay to go on a cruise.
It would be like hell on earth to me.

Anonymous said...

I'm dissapointed in your response to the passenger in front reclining his seat. It's live and let live as far as plane seats are concerned - you have to tolerate the bugger in front since you are a bugger in front yourself.
It is by these small things that people reveal themselves.

judith said...

Oh for heaven's sake, if you flew El Al you got a mainly Jewish crowd on board, and as I hinted before, we Jews don't do 'quiet', just like we don't do 'no thanks, I'm not hungry'.

A sad pedant said...

Please Iain, you're sitting in 28E (or you were), not sat - this appears everywhere and drives me mad.
BTW keep up the good work and have a great time.

Anonymous said...

so everyone's been learning the wrong thing all these years?

the cat was sitting on the mat, should it be?

rob's uncle said...

Console yourself with the thought that by 2030, cheap air travel will have been taxed out of existence to achieve the 80 % decarbonisation of the economy required to mitigate climate change, so trips like this one will be no more, unless you have become rich . .

Alex said...

Re: Mile high clubs (although 5,000 feet is a little low on a jumbo jet - try the 6 mile high club)

I am reliably informed that the act is more easily achieved during a very long distance flight where there are periods of time where most of the passengers are asleep. Also a encyclopedic book on the art of being an air passenger, now sadly out of print, recommends the space behind the last row of seats in some 747 cabins. Mind you that book is pretty old and I am not sure whether it applies to modern cabin layouts.

Martin said...

With the seat thing: ram your knee into the back of it at frequent intervals; every time you get up (and get up frequently) haul yourself up using his seat back, and joggle it if he's asleep; and recline your own seat back... pass the problem on to the next guy!

ken from glos said...

Fly club class. All problems solved and it is comfortable with ELAL

Lola said...

Para's 2 and 3 very Chandler-esque. But what happens next...?

Anonymous said...

You don't come out of the loo together! One of you goes first and the other follows 2 mins later.

The middle of the night is an obvious time but mealtimes are also good. Nobody is queueing for the loo because they are all eating. The cabin crew are fully occupied. And everyone is trapped under their trays and likely to wait until they are collected before moving towards the loo.

An expert

Anonymous said...

do you get paid to write this?! I dare not ask how much for risk of throwing something at my computer and breaking it!

Forget travel writing...

Ever thought of appearing on Big Brother?

scotch said...

So Iain, it's OK to call somebody you don't know a tosser on your very popular blog then. And you don't get banned for that or anything? Just checking. Because I read something - here's how it goes:

"Please try to be as polite as possible. People seem to think that the internet can be used to say things to people which you wold never dream of saying to their face. Strong argument is welcomed, but please try to steer clear of personal insults where possible."

Niccolo Machiavelli said...

"I have never quite understood how two people can emerge from a plane loo unnoticed".

Iain, the trick, as any of the Club members will tell you, is to enter the plane loo unnoticed; being seen emerging from it is the icing on the cake.

Anonymous said...

scotch said - wish the ground rules you listed were applied to guido's site. i do not know how some immature sexually orientated abuse about what the blogger would do (or wished they could do if only----!!) advances any argument.

Greater Manchester Fabians said...

That is the most hilarious thing I've read in years! You are a cross between Alan Partridge and George Castanza off Seinfeld. Polite Englishman meets the frustrations of modern life! Brilliant, keep it up.

Manfarang said...

El Al!
Did you drink some Wissotzky tea?

Anonymous said...

Martin is absolutely right. What you need to do is get up constantly, and each time make sure you pull yourself up with all your weight on the seat in front. As you sit down you can put your weight on the seat again. Just keep doing this - even if it doesn't change his/her behaviour then it'll make you feel good. If s/he is asleep then drop some kind of staining food on them - then wake them up to apologise.