Thursday, February 12, 2015

From Ham to the Canaries by Aeorplane

Bloc Hotels save space by making the whole tiny bathroom the shower area, with the result that if you take a shower late at night, after an arduous series of train rides to Gatwick from Ham (namesake of the sandwich, or, less whimsically, the quiet neck of the woods on the Thames between Richmond and Kingston), you’d better not stagger in soon thereafter to pee, as you’ll slip on the wet floor and break your neck. But, who never fail to notice the silver lining, though, which in this case might be that if you’re too groggy or drunk to think straight, and pee all over the floor, those with whom you’re sharing the room will have no way of knowing that you made a mess when they stagger in after you’ve had your turn. I had no quibble with the enormous flatscreen TV!

My titanium right shoulder of course set off the metal detector at the entrance to the departures lounge. The guy whose thankless task it was to have to grope me was surprised and impressed when I explained what the problem was. “That’s unusual, a replaced shoulder, innit” he mused. “Not so unusual that I won’t be going in for a replacement of the replacement in March,” said I, in my best devil-may-care voice. I didn’t advise him that I’m hoping to persuade the surgeon to save the present joint for me, as we’ve been very, very close the past 20 years, and I hope to display it as an object d’art

We bought posh sarnies, as the missus calls them when she’s trying to sound working class, at Pret a Manger, and some posh bottled tea. Sipping mine, I noted with some pleasure that the bottle noted that the drink was “best chilled (as indeed we all are).” The missus bought her traditional copy of The Daily Mail (for no points, because I’ve just given you the answer, name the only British newspaper ever mentioned by name in a Beatles song), and we headed for Gate 36.

I haven’t been as relaxed on a plane as I was on this one since around 1970, just before I became terrified of flying after the pilot of a plane I’d ridden from New York back to LA decided a few feet from the ground that maybe he shouldn’t try to land after all, and abruptly aborted the landing. I read a book about how a group of heroic opponents of the Vietnam War burglarized an FBI office to demonstrate that the then-unassailable Bureau was suppressing dissent, and mused that J. Edgar Hoover and Richard Nixon might have been the two principal American villains of the 20th century, with the latter’s henchman Henry Kissinger a close third, albeit with a German accent. I personally believe Dick Cheney to be miles ahead of anyone else for the present century.

In England, a loud, inconsiderate, boorish person is called a yob, or, even better, a yobbo. I have never heard the term applied to a woman, for whom the term cow seems preferred. There were a couple of right cows four rows in front of us, drunkenly braying, cawing, and generally making themselves insufferable as we flew south and west. I was gobsmacked (incredulous, you see) when one of the flight crew blithely sold each of them another little bottle of wine as the refreshment cart made its last trip down the aisle. I gathered that one of them, who deafeningly identified herself as Michelle From Surrey, was “celebrating” (if that’s the word, and of course it is not) her 50th birthday, and wasn’t tickled about having to do so not with a handsome gentleman who loves her for Who She Is, but with a hideous blonde fellow alcoholic of comparable vintage. I was pretty sure they were going to puke on someone before flight’s end, but they proved to be of sterner stuff. The Brits can be indomitable when they want to be, innit.

Now we will dine and take advantage of our all-inclusive plan (that is, get generously lubricated ourselves) and sing karaoke. If I get enough off-brand spirits in me I may well attempt “MacArthur Park” for the first time, if only to keep someone else from doing it. 

Stay tuned, innit.


  1. Kareoke.
    You go, girl! This one is fun.

  2. I must hear your rendition of MacArthur Park. I hope it was recorded. Insightful and delightfil use of many British colloquialism-is.