Saturday, February 28, 2015

The World's Foremost Expert on Boredom

Since last Sunday (mine lasted 32 hours), I have been the world’s pre-eminent expert on boredom.

Norwegian Airlines wouldn’t allow me to make a seat reservation on line, so I figured I’d better get down to Gatwick Airport the prescribed three hours early. The missus drove me to Richmond Station, on whose Platform 2 I stood around and stood around and stood around before the train that would take me to Clapham Junction finally arrived, and then, at Clapham Junction, stood around and stood around waiting for the train to Gatwick. At which the nice lady didn’t ask if I wanted the good or bad news first. She told me she could give me an aisle seat in an emergency exit row (whoopee!), but that the flight would be delayed three hours because horrendous weather on the East Coast of America meant our plane would be late coming over from JFK. I now had six hours to enjoy in Gatwick Airport. 

I found a place where I could plug in my laptop and write, and wrote. I deliberated at great length about how to spend at Pret a Manger the £9.50 voucher Norwegian had given me for my inconvenience. Having had no breakfast, I chose a crawfish and rocket sandwich, a smoked salmon sandwich, a fruit salad, and a bottle of sparkling water. There was some debate among Pret staff about whether I was eligible, given that I’d used a voucher, for the free-with-purchases-over-£6 brownie for which I had a coupon. The dispute was ultimately resolved in my favor. 

I ate my crawfish sandwich very slowly, and then my fruit salad, and then my brownie, and then, having foolishly neglected to download new books for my Nexus 7, spent a long while in a bookstore. I considered various music magazines, but wound up buying a half-priced book about crime-scene forensics because it was half-priced and most of the fiction on offer looked like crapola. 

By and by, I ate my other sandwich, chewing each mouthful 750 times to make it last longer, and drank some of my water, and the boarding gate was finally announced.

We boarded. I took my seat and promptly fell half-asleep, which is as close as I ever get on a plane. Takeoff was bumpy, though, and that woke me up. I’d hoped to watch a couple of movies, but the selection was the same as on the flight from Los Angeles, and I’d already viewed the cream of the crop — Chef, which was at least diverting, and Draft Day, in which Kevin Costner was terrific. I tried to watch The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and was awed by the art direction and set decoration, but left cold by the story. I tried to watch Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America, and found it sensationally awful. I got through 10 minutes of a cutesy romcom with Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney. I tried to write an epic poem, but managed only:
There’s grits in the grotto and pork in the freezer / I’ve just won the Lotto, but still onto Caesar / will render the fat that our slenderness dreads / and leave most decisions to far calmer heads / than are rolling just now or have rolled since September / When Caesar displayed his astonishing member
I didn’t like the book I’d bought, bargain-priced though it had been, and never managed to read more than a couple of paragraphs at a time. I conversed for around 14 seconds with the guy in the middle seat, a Brit who had relatives in Riverside. Having caught something in Tenerife, I sniffled and sneezed a thousand times, and made 500 visits to the lavatory, whose nice soft paper towels were fairly gentle on my increasingly raw nose.

After what seemed a million years, I allowed myself a look at the visual that shows how near you are to your destination. Only seven hours and 20 minutes remained.


  1. I feel like I have been on this flight before - again and again. The perfect magazine for me to read on a plane is Uncut or Mojo - just because it seems tailor-made for music lovers who are confined in an area. The worst part of flying is when you are dead bored, and realizing you're only half way through the trip. That is painful.

    1. Indeed. I kick myself for not having bought Uncut.

  2. Absolutely. Render yourself unconscious for any flight over 4 hours. That's my motto. What?! I need to be conscious in case of an emergency?
    They do know we are all lying. I will be screaming in a fetal position, blocking the emergency exit as we plummet to the ground. Better unconscious. You can all step on me.

  3. One of the worst nights of my life was spent on a flight from Cleveland to London. I had booked months in advance to get an aisle seat and my row mates were an overdressed Princess and her precious daughter who was perhaps 5 years old.

    Precious spent the entire flight rocking in her seat and kicking the the seat in front of her, with Mommy counseling her non-stop to "please stop that, honey." The one time I did manage to fall asleep, Precious had to go potty so Mommy awakened me to allow them to get up.

    It should be mandatory that any child under 7 who boards an airplane should be given a large dose of children's Benadryl before take off. And the next time I take a flight over 3 hours, I'll do as Elle suggests and sedate myself with a combination of scotch and Valium.

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